Material for Cheap/Quick workbench

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Forum topic by kocgolf posted 10-20-2016 03:48 AM 750 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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398 posts in 2686 days

10-20-2016 03:48 AM

I am about ready to build myself a decent hand tool bench, but it’s going to be a placeholder for a year or two before I get to a real lifetime quality creation. I have a sheet of unused MDF and also a 2×6 piece of nice maple plywood. I was thinking that since I HAD this material I would create a 2×6 bench with three layers (MDF-MDF-Maple top) as well as some highlight/trim/ pieces from maple and walnut. This will sit on top of an old cabinet with the drawers I need for storage.

I COULD go for some douglas fir and make myself a sort of more decent top, but I can’t afford enough hard maple to make a 3” plus laminated top. Also, I have a planer and no jointer and am concerned with truing a bunch or 2×4 style lumber and how much material I will lose in all the twist and cup I will have to deal with. This route will also be more expensive.

Will I be satisfied enough with a sheet goods top? It will just be for a couple years. I will be adding a moxon stand alone vice, a wagon wheel vise, and perhaps a leg vise.

10 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile


6497 posts in 2773 days

#1 posted 10-20-2016 04:10 AM

Answer—Yeah. Like you said it’s only for a few years. Stumble thru it and decided what you want in a work bench. Most of us started out on saw horses and plywood. We then evolved, you will too. Go forth a conquer!!

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1409 days

#2 posted 10-20-2016 04:29 AM

If you happen to be into dumpster diving its that time of year where flooring stores are chunking some really nice stuff.

View mandatory66's profile


202 posts in 2638 days

#3 posted 10-20-2016 04:51 AM

My bench is an old oak table that I made 1.5 ft longer & put 2 sheets of MDF on top of and enclosed the edges with some poplar. It is 30 inches wide & 72 inches long. I drilled some 3/4 inch holes along the front edge for dogs. I also installed a kreg hold down clamp in the middle of the table. It’ works great and is removable in seconds. On one end I have a wood vise and on the other end a neat end vise sold by Lee Valley,it’s inleted into the top and will hold lumber between it & the dogs. I varnish the top now & then to help maintain it. This was also a temporary bench but I have been using it for 11 years and have made quite a few pieces of furniture on it. The MDF holds up well and I have not had to replace it. When the time comes I will just remove the edging (apron) boards and add the new top. The bench is very heavy because the top is oak & MDF abut 2 1/4 inch thick. I added a plywood shelf on the bottom for storage,at this point I have no intention to move on to an (official) work bench as this has met my needs. Proceed on!

View MustacheMike's profile


263 posts in 2596 days

#4 posted 10-20-2016 09:49 AM

Check out this show we did a while back. .
I have that bench here in the “homemade workshop” and it is great. You will see it in every video we do.

-- You can trust Mike -" because I will never pull your stash!" See my show weekly at

View ScottM's profile


742 posts in 2654 days

#5 posted 10-20-2016 12:56 PM

Simple frame with 2x and 4x with a double thick MDF top. Put the whole thing on casters. Built mine that way several years ago and it’s still going strong.

View Robert's profile


3537 posts in 1988 days

#6 posted 10-20-2016 01:42 PM

It will work.

But if you’re doing dog holes I would glue in a strip of hardwood for that.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


3949 posts in 1895 days

#7 posted 10-20-2016 02:05 PM

If you sort through the stack of 2-by stock, you can usually find some boards where the growth rings run across the 2” dimension instead of the 4, 6 or 8 inch dimension. These are essentially quarter sawn and will generally be straighter and won’t be as likely to twist, warp or cup. Check both ends to ensure that it doesn’t transition to a different orientation. If you can’t find them in the 2×4 or 2×6 stack, check out the 2×8 or even 2×10 stack. With wider boards, it takes a larger log which generally means smaller growth rings and are more likely to have some boards with rings oriented on the short dimension for at least part of their width. You can always rip and joint or hand plane them to the width you want. You will probably want to knock off those rounded corners that 2-by stock has to get a 6” top, so you might have to start with 2×8 anyway.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View bandit571's profile


23777 posts in 3191 days

#8 posted 10-20-2016 02:29 PM

Dumpster dive bench…

Someone had thrown out an old waterbed frame…...I merely re-arranged a few pieces….

Have since added a leg vise, a Crochet, and an end vise.

Bench it’s self cost me $7 for the hardware, and a nice sunny Sunday afternoon on the back porch. Had to stop for lunch, and was done by suppertime.

I even have dogholes , now. I hung a rack for chisels and squares on the back. been using it a bunch over the years..

One of the very rare times nothing is ON the bench..

Added this “L” shaped shelf for the squares and chisels…

Just scraps. Made on the bench, for the bench.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View kocgolf's profile


398 posts in 2686 days

#9 posted 10-20-2016 02:58 PM

Thanks everyone for the input. I never really WANTED to have a sheet goods bench and had designed a dream one, but at this point I need to get something functional done and then get working on some real projects instead of “shop building.” It’s good to hear I will be ok for a while with it.

I would LOVE to build a rough frankenstein beast someday out of reclaimed material. I will definitely keep my eye open for free wood on CL.

View bandit571's profile


23777 posts in 3191 days

#10 posted 10-20-2016 03:18 PM

When is “Trash Day” in your area? Cruise the curbs BEFORE the trucks pick things up. Might be surprised at what you might find…...

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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