Edges for Workbench top

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by CLS89 posted 07-31-2020 06:02 PM 738 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CLS89's profile


20 posts in 721 days

07-31-2020 06:02 PM

I plan on making a workbench within the next couple of weeks. I want to use MDF as the top. I am going to laminate two 3/4 inch sheets of MDF to make a 1.5 inch thick top. I came across an idea to protect the MDF top with hardboard. Please see photo. The idea is to make the edge banding a 1/4 inch proud of the surface and to put 1/4 inch hardboard on top and than everything sits flush. My concern is that simply tacking the edge banding on with nails will result in inconsistencies. I won’t have a consistent 1/4 stick out across the entire surface. There will likely be some variation which will result in the hardboard and edge banding not sitting flush with one another. Is there a good approach to this?

27 replies so far

View SMP's profile


2447 posts in 753 days

#1 posted 07-31-2020 06:25 PM

Put the hardboard down. Glue and pin the edge on just barely slightly higher then hardboard. Use a handplane to level after glue dries.

View metolius's profile


210 posts in 1578 days

#2 posted 07-31-2020 06:33 PM

I would probably glue the banding. Nails in don’t hold and may split/shatter the material. But regardless of whether its nailed, glued or screwed, I’d suggest making the banding 1/32 proud, then flushing it with the top using your favorite plane.

-- derek / oregon

View CLS89's profile


20 posts in 721 days

#3 posted 07-31-2020 06:50 PM

I appreciate the replies. I am not very skilled with hand planes. Would I be able to flush trim with the router? If I make a jig that attaches to the base of the router?

View SMP's profile


2447 posts in 753 days

#4 posted 07-31-2020 07:10 PM

Yeah no jig needed, just get a flush trim bit and the bearing will ride on the hardboard. Its easier with a trim router, hard to keep a full size touter stable on the narrow edge but doable with patience.

View jkm312's profile


36 posts in 251 days

#5 posted 07-31-2020 07:21 PM

I made my top out of the same materials you are contemplating.

I used double sided carpet tape to attach the hardboard to the MDF. I let it hang over the side a bit and used a flush trim bit to fit to fit the hardboard to the MDF. There are different qualities of hardboard. I would use double tempered hardboard.

I trimmed up the two sheets of MDF with a track saw. A straight edge clamped in place and skill saw will do the same thing. Wear a mask, MDF is really extra dusty.

I bought 2×6’s for the trim pieces. Joint one edge straight then rip them on the table saw with material to spare. Then joint them again to final dimension. I clamped them in place and cut the mitres to fit. Pre drill the holes to attache them to the MDF. You will have to drill accurate sized holes, one for the threads and a clearance hole for the head of the screw and then counter sink them. Alternate the screws top and bottom so they are not centered, it will help hold the trim pieces straight. The trim pieces can be removed when it is time to change the hardboard. By using 2 x material it is thick enough you can get a clamp on it. If I doing some rougher stuff I throw a 1/4 inch piece of chipboard on to protect the hardboard.

View pottz's profile (online now)


11214 posts in 1832 days

#6 posted 07-31-2020 07:32 PM

Yeah no jig needed, just get a flush trim bit and the bearing will ride on the hardboard. Its easier with a trim router, hard to keep a full size touter stable on the narrow edge but doable with patience.


this is what ive done in the past much easier than using a hand plane.ive always screwed on the edge banding that way when it gets torn up,and if you use that bench it will,you can put on new edging when you put on new hardboard.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View therealSteveN's profile


6241 posts in 1422 days

#7 posted 07-31-2020 07:40 PM

Agreed router with flush trimmer, and screw on the edge, easy to replace that way.

-- Think safe, be safe

View CLS89's profile


20 posts in 721 days

#8 posted 08-03-2020 04:34 PM

This thread has been helpful. I do want to keep the cost low. Should I use a hardwood like poplar for the edges or just some douglas fir 2×4?

View jkm312's profile


36 posts in 251 days

#9 posted 08-03-2020 05:45 PM

I used douglas fir. It has done everything I wanted it to do and is still going strong. It’s a work bench, it’s going to get knocked around. If you stick to the wider and longer boards, you will be able to get some clean, void and knot free pieces to trim out the edges. If you put a larger radius on the top edge that will help preserve the edges of the trim pieces.

View Axis39's profile


336 posts in 445 days

#10 posted 08-03-2020 10:33 PM

I’ve built my last two workbenches using MDF and 1/8” hardboard (the last table was two layers of 1/8” (to have a replacement handy).

If you can glue and nail the edging close, you can just sand it down to match the hardboard. Just use a block.

My last workbench, I used maple as the edge… This time I used pine and am regretting it. The pine has rounded off a lot from wear in just a year (of admittedly heavy usage). I am contemplating building another work bench over the Winter…. When I do, I’ll build the top the same way, but this time definitely going with hardwood edging.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Knockonit's profile


693 posts in 1050 days

#11 posted 08-04-2020 12:26 AM

I have an assembly table i made 3’x8’ on casters, i essentially did the same thing, only i spotted contact cement on a few spots to keep the 1/4 ’’ in place and replacing is rather easy, if you do’nt go over board with contact cement, little scraping and a newbie goes on.
good luck i have managed to get a couple years out of each 1/4’’ pc,
i made it 3ft wide , cause when i did the 4 ft, it was tough to assemble and over reach, easier for me to walk around or spin it, as i did make a couple lazy susans for really heavy stuff.
when i had cab shop we had a half dozen assemble tables that were only 2ft tall, so teh bending over once assembled wasn’t a back killer
rj in az

-- Living the dream

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3467 posts in 4285 days

#12 posted 08-04-2020 01:11 AM

I have a heavy, on casters, assembly table made this way. I put the hardboard on the top with pin nails. I will be able to remove it someday if need be.

As far as getting it flush with the edge. I don’t see the problem. Maybe I’m missing the point. Put the hardboard on first the when you put the edge on, put it on flush with the top. I used teflon desk screws for the edge into the mdf. It will also be replaceable. My edges are often where I clean the glue of my fingers. My edges are made of cut down spruce 2×4’s. Spruce here in Maine.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View JohnDon's profile


134 posts in 2017 days

#13 posted 08-04-2020 02:59 AM

I agree with others that it’s a workbench, not fine furniture, so just go with 2×4 or 2×6 edges. Don’t bother with mitered corners- just butt joints, and screw in. As mentioned, a softwood edge will take a beating over time, but it will protect the mdf and hardboard edge. A sharp corner of a hard maple edge will inevitably (for me, anyway) result in dings and dents in any work piece put on the bench. I’d rather have a softwood bench edge take the brunt of a collision with the project, rather than the reverse.

View MPython's profile


298 posts in 660 days

#14 posted 08-04-2020 12:28 PM

I built my radial saw bench top using the same recipe you are thinking about, with one change. I needed to screw brackets into the top for my saw fence. I don’t trust MDF to hold screws very well, so I substituted 3/4” plywood for the bottom layer. I used a medium quality plywood – not the expensive stuff. The MDF and the hardboard (Masonite) gave me a very flat, level surface. I don’t see the problem with applying the edge banding. Mine is 5/8” oak. I glued it to the plywood edge and held it in place with 18 gauge brads while the glue dried. I just leveled it by feel as I shot the brads in and had no problem keeping it flush with the Masonite top. When the glue dried, I ran a 1/8” rounder bit along the edges to soften them. I also drilled a single 1/2” hole through the plywood/MDF sandwich near the front edge before I laid the Masonite down so I could push the Masonite up from underneath with a dowel or screwdriver when I needed to change it. It has held up well for ten years.

View CLS89's profile


20 posts in 721 days

#15 posted 08-04-2020 04:07 PM

If I where to screw the edges on what size screw would you recommend? Also one member mentioned staggering the screws for a better connection?

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics