Workbench build material

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Forum topic by YankeeFan posted 02-19-2020 12:00 PM 375 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 51 days

02-19-2020 12:00 PM

Hi all, new here to LJ’s and need some info. Now that I’m retired and looking for a new hobbie, I’ve started to dabble in some wood projects. I have a some tools, low budget machines and a rudimentary workbench. The workbench is made with 2×4’s and an OSB top. I’ve noticed on YouTube, a bench made by Rob Crossman made out of MDF. I thought about giving it a go when the weather breaks. My question is will 3 sheets of MDF be strong enough to drill holes for hold downs and hold fasts? I’m on a very small pension with little room for steep expenditures on materials and tools.. Therefore, would MDF be a cheaper build? Hoping you all have a great day

9 replies so far

View Underdog's profile


1473 posts in 2711 days

#1 posted 02-19-2020 12:14 PM

Isn’t the Paulk workbench entirely 2x stock? I think that’s the way I’d go if I were making a bench. MDF is accurately thicknessed, is heavy and machines well, but I…well I’d just rather have all wood. Your mileage may vary.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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1883 posts in 581 days

#2 posted 02-19-2020 12:57 PM

For hand tool work? Or diy, machining?

View Sylvain's profile


981 posts in 3175 days

#3 posted 02-19-2020 01:15 PM

For minimal budget and hobby work, don’t embark on machining.
hobby work = not under pressure?
Go hand tools.
One can do almost everything with a basic set of hand tools.
If your workbench has a good base, replace the top wit a laminated one made of the cheapest (solid) wood available.
I have done mine with recycled wood.

The best place to start is Paul Sellers:

For a good workbench
If you make a completely new one you might be able to reuse wood from your actual base.
Otherwise it shows how to make a laminated top.

Machining is good for repetitive work (kitchen remodel) and necessary to process MDF and OSB.
Setting up a machine for a one time operation can be time consuming.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View SKMoss's profile


17 posts in 44 days

#4 posted 02-19-2020 01:30 PM

Welcome to the hobby.

The top of my assembly table is MDF and has 3/4 holes drilled in it. But I use the holes for hold down clamps that extend below and hook under the surface. So far so good.

I don’t use holdfasts as they put a lot of lateral pressure on the holes, and if you’ve ever dropped a piece of MDF on a corner, you’ll know that lateral pressure isn’t a strong suit of the composite.

There is nothing to stop a hybrid approach that has the majority of the top made out of MDF, and a couple of (or 3 or 4) 2X4s milled and laminated then drilled for holdfasts along one edge.

-- Thanks, Steve

View Fresch's profile


467 posts in 2596 days

#5 posted 02-19-2020 01:38 PM

Any construction happening around your area, check the dumpsters.

View bmerrill's profile


89 posts in 749 days

#6 posted 02-19-2020 01:46 PM

MDF and holdfast don’t play together well.
Solid wood top 2”+ minimum thickness, 3” better.
Need an open area below the top so the holdfast can protrude.
Jay Bates have several YT video builds of workbenches.
One is made of pine. You could keep your base or not and just construct the top.

-- "Do. Or do not. There is no try". Yoda

View Underdog's profile


1473 posts in 2711 days

#7 posted 02-21-2020 09:28 PM

Isn t the Paulk workbench entirely 2x stock? I think that s the way I d go if I were making a bench. MDF is accurately thicknessed, is heavy and machines well, but I…well I d just rather have all wood. Your mileage may vary.

- Underdog

Whoops. I meant the Paul Sellers workbench. I get the two confused.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View controlfreak's profile


567 posts in 277 days

#8 posted 02-21-2020 10:22 PM

I built a Moxon vise as a temporary solution to use hold fast. The only problem is although I drilled the holes to accommodate them I still need to pick some up.

View tvrgeek's profile (online now)


593 posts in 2325 days

#9 posted 02-21-2020 10:30 PM

My multi-use outfeed table is 2 layers of melamine chip board. Works fine for my plastic dogs and my through mount hold downs. ( far end from saw is a dual use workbench)

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