Clear protective finish for new Workmate top?

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Forum topic by pdalton posted 09-19-2018 10:04 AM 1175 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 2846 days

09-19-2018 10:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workmate clear finish protective finish

Just received a new B&D Workmate 425. The 3 planks for the top surface are 3-ply bamboo (the outside plys on each are ~1/8” thick and the core ply appears to be made of ~5/16” strips).

(BTW, contrary to other reports I’ve read, these planks, the Workmate’s frame & its other parts all look really good).

These planks came with a thin clear finish on most surfaces, but the ends of each plank and the insides of the several holes in each plank are raw & unfinished. Plus, where there IS finish, it doesn’t look terribly protective.

So, before I assemble this Workmate, I’d like to put a good, clear, waterproof finish on all surfaces of (& holes in) each plank to help it hold up longer – in particular, to minimize moisture absorption through raw wood that might cause swelling or warping of the planks.

Can I get some product/application recommendations? Even some ‘don’t do this’-type advice would be useful.


-- Paul Dalton; Grapevine, TX

6 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


758 posts in 1738 days

#1 posted 09-19-2018 12:24 PM

Don’t know if they’ve changed much, but I’ve had my workmate for over 40 years and have never had an issue with warping of the top. I’ve never put any kind of finish on it intentionally (some drips of paint only). It has worked for me in Charleston, SC, Ashtabula, OH, Plymouth, MA, Las Vegas, NV and Pueblo, CO. I include the list to indicate that it has been though all of the climates here in the states. My advice….put it together and get to work. No point in wasting time or effort on what is essentially a portable workbench.
Other opinions may vary.

-- Sawdust Maker

View OSU55's profile


2796 posts in 3108 days

#2 posted 09-19-2018 02:44 PM

Agreed – dont worry about it, just use it. Had mine for 20 yrs or so still works fine.

View Bill Berklich's profile

Bill Berklich

1179 posts in 1507 days

#3 posted 09-19-2018 03:31 PM

+1 on all – it will go 20 years. You would have to really abuse it for it to split or warp. And if you do, just replace the top with 2”x8”s like this

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View pdalton's profile


15 posts in 2846 days

#4 posted 09-19-2018 04:46 PM

Thanks for the responses. Based on my own 30+ years’ experience with that stolen Workmate, I would agree with your suggestions to leave the planks alone on the new Workmate.

However, adding a protective finish came to mind for several reasons.

1. The planks on my brother’s newer Workmate model DID warp & bubble after he left it out overnight & it got rained on. Whenever his newer Workmate was made, B&D no longer was using the same material as on my older Workmate. Although I never deliberately left my old Workmate outside in the rain, it did happen a couple of times and never had that same problem, so that makes me believe it might be more likely to occur with the newer models.

2. If you read other’s posts (here & elsewhere) about their more current Workmate models, many include complaints about the quality of the materials B&D uses for the newer Workmates vs. what they used in the past to build older Workmates. I can’t really blame B&D a whole lot for having to lower their material costs to keep Workmates reasonably priced over the years, but realizing what’s happening in that regard should make anyone consider modifications that might make it last as long as the older ones have. So, while the planks with the Model 425 I received look good now, others have raised questions that make me want to be cautious.

3. Without trying to decide whether these newer ‘bamboo’ plywood planks are better, worse, or no different than what I had before, I decided that adding more protection to them would at least be cheap insurance.

Consequenly, I do still plan to add some type of additional protection to these planks, so I’m still looking for pros/cons of available clear protective finishes to put on these planks.


-- Paul Dalton; Grapevine, TX

View olegrump's profile


97 posts in 1341 days

#5 posted 09-22-2018 10:13 PM

I’ve had my WM 400 for over 30 years and it’s still going STRONG with no real issues. I’ve had to replace one (1) of the clips that secure the short legs when folded, but NO, and I mean NO other problems.

View fly2low's profile


88 posts in 1215 days

#6 posted 09-29-2018 08:36 AM

I am fortunate to have an older than dirt Workmate, and like others, no problems.
If I was going to put on a finish, I would go with an oil based polyurethane. Mine is rarely outside, otherwise I might consider a marine grade varnish

-- Rich Gig Harbor, WA

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