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Forum topic by Notw posted 02-21-2014 01:49 PM 1070 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Notw's profile


1096 posts in 2995 days

02-21-2014 01:49 PM

So I am now back to being indecisive again. I was all set on the idea of using MDF for the top because it would be strong and flat and at a reasonably low price. I was going to use a layer of 3/4” plywood and (2) layers of 3/4” MDF glued and screwed together with a hardwood banding around it. However, now I am thinking I may use a kiln dried 2×10×144 kiln dried SYP board and rip it down to 2-3/4×1-1/2×60” and laminate them together for the top, with this method I should be able to get a 24” x 60” top out of 3 boards. My question is without a jointer or a planer am I going to be able to get a nice smooth flat top? I have no worries about my table saw ripping the boards down and I assume I could always get the top close to flat and then make a router jig to get it even flatter. Just can’t decide which route to take. I would appreciate any suggestions or experience.

3 replies so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3611 days

#1 posted 02-21-2014 02:27 PM

If you have a router and can make a sled, I’d be less concerned with getting the top flat than I would be at getting a good glue-up without a jointer or planer. If the boards are bowed or cupped, it’ll be stressing the joints I would think. I’ve read that others have installed threaded rods through the top to help with that stress, and it sounds like a good idea. But, I’ve never done it, so take that for what its worth. Good luck.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3874 days

#2 posted 02-21-2014 02:30 PM

got a hand plane? Assuming your glue-up goes well, a hand plane could probably flatten the top in less time than it’d take to rig-up a router jig.

View schuft's profile


123 posts in 3849 days

#3 posted 02-21-2014 02:45 PM

To me, the only real reason for a solid wood top is if you plan to use it for hand tools: planing, cutting mortises and tenons, chiseling dovetails, etc. If you plan to mostly use power tools, I’d stick with a simple plywood or MDF top.

Remember that a workbench top is always easily replaceable. So even if you are planning to do more with hand tools in the future, it won’t be a big deal to start with a plywood top and replace it later with something more solid. In fact, you may find that having the plywood top makes it easier to create the solid top.

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