Finish for new shop workbench

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Forum topic by boomerk posted 05-23-2020 07:07 AM 245 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 1056 days

05-23-2020 07:07 AM

I just curious about what others are using to finish a workbench. I just finished building one with a plywood top and would like to sorta protect it. I know it’s going to get stain and paint on it and probably a few holes accidentally drill in it and whatever. I just want to make it last a while. Any suggestions?


-- Poppy's Woodchips - I don't need therapy. I need my workshop.

6 replies so far

View Sawdust2012's profile


199 posts in 2443 days

#1 posted 05-23-2020 11:50 AM

I used some extra General Outdoor Oil I had sitting around. It has worked well for me.

View bondogaposis's profile


5732 posts in 3082 days

#2 posted 05-23-2020 01:12 PM

A simple mixture of 1:1:1 of poly/ BLO/ MS, is what I use. It provides some protection and is easily renewable.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LittleBlackDuck's profile (online now)


4438 posts in 1551 days

#3 posted 05-23-2020 02:18 PM

Build another workbench and work on that one to preserve this one’s top… just kidding…

Any finish will only protect the top from paint, stains, glue, chisel handles, feather hammers and tomato sauce (or a misplaces pizza slice)... and only if you wipe it off quickly. You’‘ll freak out with the first blemish on the new bench but after a while you’ll appreciate the characteristics it takes on from each dent, chip and paint spill. That’s why I believe it’s often(/allways) futile to pretty up ones workshop with exotic timbers.

BLO, tung oil or just some paste wax will get you through…
Alternatively, if you want to preserve the top, place a MDF or ply skin on it (1/4” or 1/2”).

I’ll stop short of a final suggestion of outsourcing your projects.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6928 posts in 3925 days

#4 posted 05-23-2020 03:29 PM

^...……….This…….!!! All good answers……!! But…..4-5 coats of a good poly will do, especially if you build a top made form MDF. Ant protection will help greatly. If I have some type of finish left on a rag or brush, I wipe it on the top…..tung oil, blo, or poly…..Don’t matter…..!!

This is my main work bench….42” high, 42” wide, and 102” long

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View becikeja's profile


1088 posts in 3544 days

#5 posted 05-23-2020 04:57 PM

I use the the bottom of the can. For some reason, not sure if it makes a difference or I’m just OCD, I like to make sure every project is finished with the same can of Poly. So unless I know whats left in the can will finish the job, I buy a new can. As a result I often have cans with about 1/8 of it remaining in the bottom. After enough of these partial cans are accumulated, this is what ends up on the top of work benches and tool stands.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View LesB's profile


2509 posts in 4174 days

#6 posted 05-23-2020 05:13 PM

I support the varathane finish but even that will eventually look bad.

On some work tops I use 1/4” tempered masonite. It is available with a smooth surface on 2 or just one side. I tack it down with finishing nails or small screws set flush. When it gets messed up it is easy to replace.

Alternately use 3/4” MDF but it needs to be sealed with a few coats of finish. Like Becikeja says above I usually use up finishes from partial containers that are getting old. The first couple of coats could be Shellac to seal it because it drys quickly then top coat with varathane, lacquer or varnish.

-- Les B, Oregon

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