What to do with this benchtop

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Forum topic by GiantSean posted 07-05-2020 06:46 PM 343 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 36 days

07-05-2020 06:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

Hi all.. new joiner and first post!

So I have begun a workbench project for my garage. It will primarily be used as a general service bench (fixing cars and/or whatever) but I considered putting dog holes etc into it for basic woodworking (I am not a serious woodworker but dabble, and trying to be better)

The tabletop is the subject of my question. Instead of the usual route I converted my grandparent’s old late 50’s early 60’s era dining room table (including three leaves) into the bench top. This consisted of biscuiting and edge gluing the pieces together, sitting it on top of 3/4” OSB, screwing the whole assembly into the frame, edging it with 1×2 red oak, and inserting wood plugs (I went a little overboard here lol). It is probably not a woodworker’s first choice, but it had sentimental value and rather than trash it I figured I’d use it. Plus it is real big (104” L and trimmed down to 36” D)

Problem I’m having now is that a dining room table is not meant for this type of joinery :P Overall it is pretty flat, but there is a high spot right in the middle which makes it about 1/8” bowed end to end. I planned on sanding it but found that the veneer of the leaves is extremely thin vs the table piece…. as you can see in the last pic, I already went through in a couple of places just getting the joints level. If I try to hog out 1/8 it will definitely go through.

The good news is that the core of both the table and leaves is wood (see 2nd pic – leaf on left, table on right). The leaves have a thicker layer of what I am guessing is either cork or some early incarnation of particle board. Either way probably not ideal for a workbench surface. The cores are about 5/8”-11/16” of what looks like poplar, maybe pine.

So now I’m left with two choices:

1) Sand it as best I can to finish it, don’t worry about the spots it went through, finish and just use the thing. The good news is that 52” on each side is flat.

2) SOMEHOW remove the roughly 3/16” surface to get to the wood core, then sand the whole thing flat. As far as this, maybe make some router cuts then chisel off what I can, or electric plane it. Just afraid to make a giant mess and/or gouge the heck out of the cores.

So with all that in mind, open to ideas on the best choice… or even one I haven’t thought of yet. Sorry for writing a book and thanks for any advice!

3 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1700 posts in 3655 days

#1 posted 07-05-2020 07:22 PM

The question is, “Are you doing higher end work where you need a dead flat reference surface?” and or do you have the need for any other table in your shop. IMO keep the bench as is, mine against the wall is always covered with stuff anyway. If I need a dead flat surface I use my TS or one of two other tables in the shop that are made with MDF torsion box tops.

The solution for your current situation does not really exist, unless you rebuild your under structure and/or shim everything from below.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View cracknpop's profile


437 posts in 3154 days

#2 posted 07-06-2020 12:41 AM

As ChefHDAN has said… does this workbench need to be ‘dead flat’? Your intended use as “general service bench” and the majority of woodwork dabbling doesn’t require it being dead flat.

In my shop, I would likely lay a piece of sacrificial 1/4” or 1/2” MDF on top because I am probably going to get grease/paint on it and likely drill holes or cut into it.

Having said that… you might be able to sink some threaded inserts into the underneath of the bench top and bolt a big piece of angle iron and pull it down that 1/8”

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View GiantSean's profile


2 posts in 36 days

#3 posted 07-08-2020 06:13 PM

Hey thanks for the great replies… the sacrificial top is definitely something I will look at.

I think at this point I am 95% against messing with it further. To clarify though, the top is pretty flat on the bottom, it’s the variations in the leaves (and probably made worse by clamping movement while gluing) that make a small peak. If I was able to get through the particle board to wood, I could then level it from the top. After doing some research, a router on a sled (like for leveling a slab) would probably be the best bet… but I don’t feel like taking it apart (would be hard to get every spot while in place) and as stated, probably not worth it anyway.

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