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New Benchtop......Stupid Question

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  • New Benchtop......Stupid Question

    Sorry for the simplicity but not having done anything like this before, I thought I should ask the wealth of knowledge here first. I have a fairly solid workbench I built years ago but it just has a laminate counter for a top and with its age and condition combined with my new vice, I have decided to build a new bench top. Being my first one and being frugal, have decide to use laminated SPF lumber (2X6). Stupid question... Am I better to dress and laminate the somewhat straight lumber when it is wet (as soon as it gets home from Home Depot or should I sticker and clamp them for a couple of weeks to dry and hope they don’t kill me when they spring apart when I remove the clamps and then dress and laminate them. I will be using dowels and titebond 3 to laminate the boards together. Thanks in advance.

    Mike
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  • #2

    Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

    I would dry them out. Dress them a bit oversized. Clamp up three or four sections. Let that season a few days. Final machine those sections. Then do the final glue up.
    I have found the stuff from Home Depot to be dry enough to go straight to final machining.
    Kayak Jim likes this.
    Cheers
    Randy

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    • #3

      Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

      I understand starting with 2x6's as they tend to be better than 2x4's but are you planning on edge gluing them to get an approximately 1 1/2" thick top or side gluing them to get an approximately 5 1/2" thick top or are you going to rip the 2x6's down to get an approximately 2 1/2" top? So the next question is what's the best sequence (dry, joint, rip?) and is it better to rip on the table saw or band saw?

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      • #4

        Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

        Originally posted by Doug G View Post
        I understand starting with 2x6's as they tend to be better than 2x4's but are you planning on edge gluing them to get an approximately 1 1/2" thick top or side gluing them to get an approximately 5 1/2" thick top or are you going to rip the 2x6's down to get an approximately 2 1/2" top? So the next question is what's the best sequence (dry, joint, rip?) and is it better to rip on the table saw or band saw?
        Good question Doug.

        I am considering both options. The simplest would be to just edge join them but thinking I would like thicker than 1 1/2 so was planning on ripping. Them down to about 2 1/2” finished size. I did buy a couple of 2x4’s over Christmas and just left them in the shop for about. 3 days and I had nothing but 8’ fire wood as they were so twisted they were unusable for anything else.

        Thank you you for the responses.

        Mike

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        • #5

          Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

          Rather than go with construction grade lumber have you considered a sheet of 3/4 mdf. You could rip a sheet down the middle and end up with a 1 1/2 inch of a bench top heavy and perfectly flat. It would also be a lot harder than SPF.

          BRIAN
          mikeddd, Chimera and stotto like this.
          If your dreams don't scare you, you are not dreaming big enough

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          • #6

            Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

            MDF is a good suggestion but if you decide to stick with SPF take your time picking stock at HD, making a few visits spread a few weeks apart. And the longer, wider generally the better. I got a 2X10X12 feet a year or so ago that was dead clear. I had it cut in half to fit in my car and the clerk said "Wow you got a nice one there". Now every time I go in I check the stacks.

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            • #7

              Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

              LVL beam makes a nice easy benchtop. Heavy, thick, very stable. Not too dear either. Save you a lot of milling.

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              • #8

                Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                Originally posted by bender View Post
                LVL beam makes a nice easy benchtop. Heavy, thick, very stable. Not too dear either. Save you a lot of milling.
                This ^^^ is what I would think abut next time. I built my last bench where I worked out of 2x4's for the frame and topped it with a sheet of 3/4 ply topped by a sheet of 3/4 MDF. It was about 40" x 96" and boy was it solid !! Any time the MDF got dirty or glue stained I'd give it a scrape and then run the belt sander over it - presto - new.

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                • #9

                  Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                  If you want a good, solid, stable bench you need to begin with good, solid, stable material. It doesn't matter where it comes from as long as it's good quality. If it's wet, deal with that; it won't glue properly or resist twisting.
                  Choose good, dry, quality material for any job you approach. Cutting corners will not benefit anyone.
                  The difference between a master and a beginner: The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

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                  • #10

                    Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                    Lots of good answers here and unfortunately, just making the wheels spin faster. Also leads me to a couple more questions. Using some of the materials mentioned here, specifically MDF, LVL beams, and might as well throw in my original SPF lumber, "how will each material hold up over time with regards to dog holes? The new bench will be incorporating dog holes and don't want to have to replace after a year because the force of the dogs has chewed up the edge of the holes and they don't hold tight anymore. I have found LVL beams at Copps Buildall here in London and that could definitely be a contender if they will hold up. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

                    Mike
                    smallerstick likes this.

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                    • #11

                      Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                      Mike, what about using a glue lam beam instead of a LVL. Then you're dealing with a material you are comfortable with (construction lumber) that is already glued up for you. If you did go with a LVL, I think you'd be ok for dog holes as that stuff is denser than common SPF lumber. It's all my gun can do to drive 3.5" nails into the stuff when on jobs requiring laminating multiple LVLs.
                      VIDEOS: www.youtube.com/AWoodworkersLife

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                      • #12

                        Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                        Megan Fitzpatrick at Popular WW magazine built a bench from LVL several years ago. If you Google LVL workbench you'll find lots of discussion about the pros and cons a few years down the road, comparisons with Glulam, etc.

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                        • #13

                          Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                          You are going to have to wait at least a month clamp and sicker. I would personally look for a deal on less expensive soft maple, ash or beech even if its #1 common to save money.
                          smallerstick likes this.
                          sigpicToday's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground.

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                          • #14

                            Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                            Is there not a quality wood supplier in the London area that carries dried maple or birch? Much better to start with the right wood and you will really enjoy the process of putting your bench together from good material. Do it right and it will last forever.

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                            • #15

                              Re: New Benchtop......Stupid Question

                              I made a bench using spf last year, one 10’ x2’ section and one 3’x2’ section. I let it dry for two weeks and had no problems. Assembled like the previous commenter suggested, glue 4-5 pieces, plane then attach sections together.

                              Pro: experience building a large slab, solid, doesn’t cost a fortune like maple.

                              Con: takes up shop time you could be honing other skills.

                              Don’t forget that the festool mft top is 3/4 mdf with dog holes. If you do mdf design it in a way that you can flip the top and it should last years.
                              - Manberdo

                              www.manberdo.com

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