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Question about T-track on my workbench

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Forum topic by Micah posted 10-30-2020 02:02 AM 262 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Micah

19 posts in 151 days


10-30-2020 02:02 AM

I just finished putting together a large workbench/assembly table for my shop, and all that’s left to do now is install a T-track grid, and also apply a finish to the workbench top. Trying to figure out if it would be best to install the t-track first then tape it off and finish the top (probably with Shellac), or if I should apply the finish before installing the t-track grid? Any thoughts?

Also, what do you guys think about using a couple coats of shellac on a premium (lumber yard) sheet of 3/4 birch plywood that I’m using for my workbench top. I’m hoping to wind up with a workbench top that’s extremely durable and easy to clean. Any other suggestions for the finish besides shellac? Thanks!


10 replies so far

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woodbutcherbynight

6621 posts in 3324 days


#1 posted 10-30-2020 02:18 AM

Typically I put Formica on a workbench top, others will have various opinions. It’s durable and glue will not stick to it. Not hard to work with but you must follow directions when using the contact cement to glue it down. If you have never installed before try a few small test pieces first. A 15 degree router bit will produce a nice clean edge. Clean that up with a fine file and it won’t cut you and will hold up a long time.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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sansoo22

1287 posts in 570 days


#2 posted 10-30-2020 04:05 AM

woodbutcherbynight – did you install the Formica first then the T-Track? I’m guessing yes and just mask it off with tape before routing out the grooves? I’m in the planning phase for my outfeed/assembly table and was considering Formica with a hardwood border around it. I tend to run into things in my shop so why not protect the edges a bit.

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Rich

6154 posts in 1505 days


#3 posted 10-30-2020 04:23 AM

I chose to add t-track to my bench instead of dog holes because I felt it might best suit my needs.

Here’s an old picture of the bench top (it’s been resurfaced and finished with Osmo Polyx since).

With that set up, I can use these types of hold downs. One is from Incra, the other Woodpecker. I also have many shop-made ones that perform as planing stops, etc. Anything you can build with 1/4-20 hex head bolts will work, as will t-bolts and other accessories.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Rich

6154 posts in 1505 days


#4 posted 10-30-2020 04:30 AM

I gotta say Gunny, that Frankenstein table saw is pretty cool. I can think of many occasions it would have been the solution to my needs.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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therealSteveN

6648 posts in 1490 days


#5 posted 10-30-2020 04:36 AM

Formica does make a nice top surface. Breaking the edge is a must, unless you are always dainty, which probably is a NO. It does have a higher cost, and is more work to apply. Some have difficulty with application, though there are many informative sources for application, with one of the best coming from Formica themselves.

They have a PDF online under a search of how to install Formica. If you had any problems they have a great team in customer service, you can reach them at.

Formica Corporation Technical Services Department, 10155 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH, 45241; call (513) 786-3578 or 1-800-FORMICA™

As for finishing on the top I would use Poly over Shellac for endurance. Shellac can easily be damaged by chemicals, sometimes heat, and isn’t real resilient to a pounding. Poly once cured is pretty tough. I would finish the top, then route my Dados for the track, and install them after. Generally when I make a work table like this, UNLESS I need it to be lightweight I use a doubled layer of material, mostly so I can use a longer screw to hold the track down. They can and will pull out if not anchored well, especially if you are clamping down on them.

I use a layer of MDF, then a sheet of Baltic Birch plywood on top, both 3/4” thick, I glue them together, and screw (1 1/4” screws) through the MDF to clamp the sheets together for 24 to 48 hours, then I remove the screws from the MDF, so they aren’t in the way when routing, or drilling dog holes. I flip it, and on the BB ply side rout the dados for the track.

When I put the track in I usually use construction adhesive, but careful not to get it near the screw holes. I don’t want it creeping out of the holes making a mess on the inside of the track. Then use a 1 1/4” screw to attach the track. Make sure the angle of the screws you use match the bevel of the T track exactly. Most of the T Track found in the US uses a flat head 82 degree screw. However screws found in the US don’t always fit that description, and using a wrong angle won’t seat the screw, or a domed head may not allow your bolt to pass. That is a must, but too many times I’ve assumed it was something everyone knew, but I keep seeing screws that won’t fit, being used. If you, as I consider that old info, Sorry. Possibly someone reading will not know this.

Some will be determined by the weight of the track you use. What kind did you get? If you don’t know the name were they using 1/4 20 bolts. or toilet bolts to attach the fixtures?

-- Think safe, be safe

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woodbutcherbynight

6621 posts in 3324 days


#6 posted 10-30-2020 04:40 AM



woodbutcherbynight – did you install the Formica first then the T-Track? I m guessing yes and just mask it off with tape before routing out the grooves? I m in the planning phase for my outfeed/assembly table and was considering Formica with a hardwood border around it. I tend to run into things in my shop so why not protect the edges a bit.

- sansoo22

Yes. I made each panel then marked exactly where the track went and routed it out. Took some time but the reward was a well fitted durable top.


I gotta say Gunny, that Frankenstein table saw is pretty cool. I can think of many occasions it would have been the solution to my needs.

- Rich

Thanks. I love it, has worked better than what I thought.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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Rich

6154 posts in 1505 days


#7 posted 10-30-2020 04:52 AM


Any other suggestions for the finish besides shellac? Thanks!

- Micah

As I mentioned in my previous post, when I resurfaced and refinished my bench top, I went with Osmo Polyx hard wax oil. It’s been a good choice, and if I had to do it again, I’d use it.

It’s perfect for a bench top. Glue literally peels off of it if you do glue ups and get squeeze out on it. I spilled some full strength TransTint die on it once. It was several minutes before I got a chance to wipe it off, and there was absolutely no color left behind.

On another occasion, I pushed my router plane out of the way, forgetting that the blade was exposed, and it sliced through the surface. I padded on a couple of coats, and now can’t even see where it happened.

I think Matt Estlea did a video of him using it on a bench top a while back. You can find it on youtube or his web site.

Finally, don’t waste your time with adhesive when you attach the t-track. The Incra track I used has screw holes every 3 inches. If you think you need adhesive in addition to that, you’re mistaken.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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SMP

2868 posts in 821 days


#8 posted 10-30-2020 05:00 AM

Its all personal preference on top coating. If you like stuff to float around like a Oujia board or rather it stay put. For hand tool woodworking I actually followed Richard Maguire’s advice and used “too many” coats of BLO and terps mixed 50/50, this ended up being 5 coats in my bench. It gives the surface a nice grippy texture, things stay put when chiseling etc.

For machine work I like formica as mentioned by others. You can slide sheets of plywood like its an air hockey table once that stuff is a bit dusty.

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woodbutcherbynight

6621 posts in 3324 days


#9 posted 10-30-2020 05:18 AM


As I mentioned in my previous post, when I resurfaced and refinished my bench top, I went with Osmo Polyx hard wax oil. It s been a good choice, and if I had to do it again, I d use it.

It s perfect for a bench top. Glue literally peels off of it if you do glue ups and get squeeze out on it. I spilled some full strength TransTint die on it once. It was several minutes before I got a chance to wipe it off, and there was absolutely no color left behind.

On another occasion, I pushed my router plane out of the way, forgetting that the blade was exposed, and it sliced through the surface. I padded on a couple of coats, and now can t even see where it happened.

I think Matt Estlea did a video of him using on a bench a while back. You can find it on youtube or his web site.

- Rich

Definitely want something like what RICH is saying. Resist glue and other stuff that gets on a work bench during a build.

Here is link to the video RICH mentioned. Bench Build

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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Rich

6154 posts in 1505 days


#10 posted 10-30-2020 05:32 AM


Here is link to the video RICH mentioned. Bench Build

- woodbutcherbynight

Yeah, that’s it. Thanks Gunny. One thing you see in the video is the heavy application of the Osmo. For general finishing, you want to use it sparingly. The recommendation is to use the white 3M non woven pads which will spread it thinly. It’s not a heavy film coat sort of finish for table tops, etc.

In my case, I did what he did and used a foam brush to flow on thick layers for protection. I did three heavy coats. You need to give it a good 24 hours-plus to cure between coats, but the results are worth it.

Like I said, I’d never apply it that way for a fine finish, but this is all about durability, and three heavy coats did the trick.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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