Workbench Lumber?

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Forum topic by Scotty Stepp posted 08-28-2008 03:28 AM 1640 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scotty Stepp

25 posts in 3828 days

08-28-2008 03:28 AM

Hi Guys. I’m new here but have heard great things from the podcast guys.

I am just getting into the hobby and money is tight so…

I have tons of free pine but would that work for a bench top? I know it’s very soft but is there anyway I could top coat it with some kind of harder surface?

Any other suggestions are definitely welcome.


6 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4034 days

#1 posted 08-28-2008 03:54 AM

pine won’t really work that well. a topcoat won’t add much strength but you don’t want to have any film on your bench. maybe a danish oil or something but nothing more. a film finish will cause it to be slick and stuff will slide everywhere, and won’t hold up to constant work. of a budget douglas fir is probably the best way to go. its pretty hard and has a few of the qualities that made a decent workbench.

View jcees's profile


1077 posts in 4065 days

#2 posted 08-28-2008 03:55 AM

What kind of pine are we talking about? White, ponderosa, slash, SYP? Mine is made completely of SYP and is hard and heavy. When complete I’ll slap on a couple of coats of an oil/varnish blend and forgo any wax. Too slippery.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Karson's profile


35157 posts in 4666 days

#3 posted 08-28-2008 04:06 AM

If you are limited on cash then make you bench with pine. But refine your requirements so that when you desire to upgrade to another one. Or to make a second one, you will have more insite on what you find useful.

You could also consider a removable top of masonite or MDF when you get the need to hammer. it would protect the softer surface.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 4219 days

#4 posted 08-28-2008 04:15 AM

My work bench is made from 2×4’s that I salvaged from construction debris piles. I made it strong and stout and it weighs a good bit.

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 4053 days

#5 posted 08-28-2008 05:38 AM

Old pine (pine heart or loaded with resin) will make as good a bench top as oak. However, that is probably not the “tons of free pine’ you have available. Pine works fine (it is a work bench and is going to get scarred, etc). It probably will not tolerate much use for bench dogs or grammercy-type clamps for long as it is too soft (unless it is the old pine), so you may want to add a strip of oak, etc for those if you want them. Other than that, make it thick (think 2×4s on edge) and it will probably serve you well until you really know what you want. It will be easy to flatten and refinish when/if you feel that is necessary. When you do decide where you are going with this woodworking stuff, the most important feature will be the vises you add to the bench. For hand tools you will need more of different kinds. For power tools you will probably only end up with an end vise and a face vise. Buy the vises you need and add them to the pine bench. After you have been in it a while and decide you want to make your optimum bench, you will already have the vise hardware on which basis your bench will be designed. Then you can buy the hard maple, beech, or white oak to make you a fine bench that you will be happy with for years. I started with an old exterior solid core door (particle board). Built cabinets on it as well a overhauled a couple of engines. “Upgraded” to 2×4’s. It also served me well and let me flatten it with hand planes. Bench dogs didn’t work too well, tho, but I was just getting into using them. Now have one with a white oak top that the dogs work great, tail vise and face vise Not sure what the next one will be, but a leg vise will be part of it. It will be a while because I put a lot of time and effort into getting the tail vise design made and perfected and I use it a bunch.

As for finish, just soak it down with coats of Johnsons paste wax (as long as it will not be out doors, and use any other non-silicon wax you want) and add as necessary. Paint or varnish is a waste of time IMHO until you get to the hard hardwoods.


-- Go

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Scotty Stepp

25 posts in 3828 days

#6 posted 08-28-2008 02:23 PM

Thanks guys. I’ll make sure to make it a removable top so I can easily upgrade it when the time comes. I’ll give it a try and see what I come up with.

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