12/4 or 8/4 for a laminated workbench top

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Forum topic by Cincinnati2929 posted 07-22-2019 02:05 AM 735 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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41 posts in 355 days

07-22-2019 02:05 AM

Is there an advantage to using 8/4 over 12/4 lumber for a laminated workbench?

I plan on building a European workbench with a 3” thick top. I will be ripping 3” strips and rotating them 90 degrees and gluing the face grain together. I have read several articles and most makers are choosing 8/4 boards. It seems it would be less work if every strip was closer to 3” wide than only about 2” wide. The only reason I could foresee using 8/4 is your saw would not cut through 12/4 on one pass, although I’d be more I nclined to make the cut in 2 passes over choosing thinner lumber.

I’ve not worked with 12/4, so I am asking what seems to me to be a ridiculous question – Is there a disadvantage of choosing 12/4 over 8/4?

6 replies so far

View Rich's profile


4677 posts in 1037 days

#1 posted 07-22-2019 04:15 AM

If you’re rotating and gluing face grain, then 8/4 will work fine. Just cut 3” wide strips from it, then rotate it 90º and resaw pieces for the top. With 12/4 you can slice the pieces straight from the plank. You’ll wind up with pretty much the same result. You’ll be dealing with ripping pieces from 3” stock whether you use 8/4 turned sideways or 12/4 straight up.

What you need is a band saw. Even a small model will cut 3” stock.

-- My grandfather always said that when one door closes, another one opens. He was a wonderful man, but a lousy cabinet maker

View therealSteveN's profile


3353 posts in 1021 days

#2 posted 07-22-2019 04:32 AM

As stated you are looking at the same yield. I would think 8/4 should be less $$$$$ But you are buying. Are you actually in the Nati? If you can buy 8/4, and 12/4 same price kindly send me a PM where that is.

As stated price usually, but if you are using 12/4 with say an 8” width, which is pretty normal for 12/4, and you are at 6’ long, and it’s Maple, those weigh a bunch. Lifting, and cutting 8/4 also 8” x 6’ is a breeze comparatively.

I also would suggest bandsaw to slice these, rather than a TS and especially if you need to do a 2 cut. So much wasted stock, versus the tiny kerf from a bandsaw. BUT again I’ll point out weight, with the 8/4 you could likely do the cuts without a lot of fanfare, and supports. The 12/4 would need support.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Rich's profile


4677 posts in 1037 days

#3 posted 07-22-2019 06:24 AM

One more thing, I think it’ll be important to run the strips you cut through a planer on both sides. It doesn’t matter whether they’re straight, but it does matter that their faces are parallel.

-- My grandfather always said that when one door closes, another one opens. He was a wonderful man, but a lousy cabinet maker

View Tony_S's profile


996 posts in 3530 days

#4 posted 07-22-2019 10:12 AM

Another advantage to using 8/4 and doing a ‘rip and flip’ is that you’ll more than likely be using flat sawn 8/4(more widely available). When you turn the pieces on edge, you’ll now have quarter sawn lumber.
Much more stable than a flat sawn table top.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5634 posts in 2940 days

#5 posted 07-22-2019 11:01 AM

This was mentioned above, but 8/4 is cheaper, and to be honest I can’t even buy 12/4 at my sawmills…..I think that’s why you see 8/4 mentioned so often.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1613 posts in 1942 days

#6 posted 07-22-2019 11:57 AM

Suggest if you want a laminated table top panel that is 3” thick when complete; start with ripped planks wider than 3 inches. My personal rule of thumb:
For small panels < 24” long, +1/8” extra width
For medium 4-5ft long panels, +1/4”
For large 6-8ft long panels, +3/8”
Can easily lose the above extra thickness making panels flat after glue up.
Will lose 150% of the above amounts if you allow warped/twisted boards into the laminated stack. DAMHIK

Also don’t forget that with a wood hand tool bench, it will get resurfaced and flattened every couple years of hard use. For light home use, resurfaced maybe once every 5 years? This removes additional thickness each time.
So if want a minimum 3” thick bench top in 10-20 years, suggest you start with 3.75” wide boards today. lol

+1 Use 8/4 lumber.
While 12/4 lumber will work, you have to make sure the beams are still flat sawn thru entire thickness, and not from center of tree. Goal is to make a quarter sawn laminated panel. If you put center grain or pith into the lamination, you will see additional seasonal movement due moisture changes.


-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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