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Hi to all:

This weekend I will be tackling a workbench project, which is my first project. I have a couple of questions concerning the project.

1) Because my bench will be living in my garage and I live up in canada, where it's cold for 6 months of the year, should I be using plywood instead of MDF because of the cold and moister?

2) Should I be finishing/protecting my top to protect against the cold and moister. If so, then what should I be using?

Regards,

Dan

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i used mdf for my workbench cause it was cheaper and solid.but the moisture is def. a problem i let a few drops from my water bottle hit the bench and it bubbled up.had to use a scraper to smooth it out.i should prob seal it so in hindsight spend the xtra money for plywood.
If you put a sheet of 1/8" hardboard/masonite on top of mdf for protection, as the hardboard wear out, then that is all you have to replace. You might use a sheet of mdf on top of a sheet of plywood and top it off with the hardboard. Then put a band of wood, your choise, to keep it all together. Make sure to put the band flush with the top. That would let you replace the top two layers as needed.
I agree with Timothy ... use 2 pieces of MDF topped with hardboard. Wood magazine has an excellent article about the different workbench tops - everything from the traditional butcher block to a solid core door. The article is named "6 Ways to Beef up a Workbench" June/July 2005
I agree with Timothy about using MDF as your top with masonite. I live in West Michigan as well as Mike and I will be using treated lumber or cedar for the structure of my bench. Double up on the MDF and route out 1/8" for the masonite. Then you can replace when it is woren out.
What I have done in the pass I used both wood and MDF. I put a piece of 3/4"MDF between 2 pieces of 1/2" hardwood plywood. It's pretty heavy but its real strong. I capped the edges with some 3/4" hard plywood.
MDF is easier to work, and a whole lot cheaper. Also with a decent coat of paint/lacquer it will handle moisture well (I left my bench out in the rain for a week while the shed got re-wired and was fine). The downside is that MDF is not as stiff as the plywood of the same thickness, ergo will need more support than the plywood would. Double thickness 18mm MDF will aliviate that issue, I had a sheet of 25mm sitting in the shed for 2 years so I decided to use that!

*yes I work in metric measurements... deal with it, lol
Just tried this I'm into r/c airplanes before you put your screws in to mdf coat the screw with wood glue and it hold many times better. We do this with the servous so the don't come losse.
Hi Dan,

had a similar quesiton earlier this year when I replaced my old work bench. I am originally from Toronto, but now live in Virginia. We get a lot of humidity here and my shop is in my garage. When I lived up north, all my shops were in the basement and didn't have the moisture issue.

Personally, I do not like MDF. I find it can be really hard on saw blades. It also has a habit of denting and it does not hold up to moisture very well. If it gets wet, it will bubble. If it gets soaked it can swell.

What I have done in the past is use a sheet of 3/4" plywood. Then, I laminate that with a 1/2" or 3/4" of oak or birch plywood. I do not glue down the top layer and attach from the bottom with screws. Then, when the top gets beat up, you can take it off and replace it.

As far as finishing goes, I prefer natural oils over stains or paints. They are easy to apply and once I year I reapply oil to my bench if needed. I have made a few benches from of all different sizes. If you have any questions or want any ideas I am happy to help. My email is rundle3@verizon.net

Workbenches are my favorite projects. The wood is relatively cheap (I use 2x4's and 2x6's) and you can try some different joints and techniques.
I would like to thank everyone for their advice. This is my first project and so I didn't want to totally screw up. I decided to go with two sheets of 3/4'' plywood. I have a fast sanding questions.

How do I prep the surface (the plywood) with sandpaper? What grits am I suppose to use? I have read start with 80ish and end up with 220ish.

Once the surface is preped am I supposed to sand between finishing coats? I have also read about using wet sandpaper. When am I suppose to use what?

Does anyone have an suggestions for a good durable finish?

Regards

Steven M. Rundle said:
Hi Dan,

had a similar quesiton earlier this year when I replaced my old work bench. I am originally from Toronto, but now live in Virginia. We get a lot of humidity here and my shop is in my garage. When I lived up north, all my shops were in the basement and didn't have the moisture issue.

Personally, I do not like MDF. I find it can be really hard on saw blades. It also has a habit of denting and it does not hold up to moisture very well. If it gets wet, it will bubble. If it gets soaked it can swell.

What I have done in the past is use a sheet of 3/4" plywood. Then, I laminate that with a 1/2" or 3/4" of oak or birch plywood. I do not glue down the top layer and attach from the bottom with screws. Then, when the top gets beat up, you can take it off and replace it.

As far as finishing goes, I prefer natural oils over stains or paints. They are easy to apply and once I year I reapply oil to my bench if needed. I have made a few benches from of all different sizes. If you have any questions or want any ideas I am happy to help. My email is rundle3@verizon.net

Workbenches are my favorite projects. The wood is relatively cheap (I use 2x4's and 2x6's) and you can try some different joints and techniques.
I would like to thank everyone for their advice. This is my first project and so I didn't want to totally screw up. I decided to go with two sheets of 3/4'' plywood. I have a fast sanding questions.

How do I prep the surface (the plywood) with sandpaper? What grits am I suppose to use? I have read start with 80ish and end up with 220ish.

Once the surface is preped am I supposed to sand between finishing coats? I have also read about using wet sandpaper. When am I suppose to use what?

Does anyone have an suggestions for a good durable finish?

Regards
Sandpaper used wet is more for when you are going for a high gloss finish, something akin to car paint. Not really needed for a work bench surface that is destined to cop a lot of abuse! The grade of papaer you use would be dependant on the condition of the plywood you start with. Have you got it yet? Do you know what grade the ply faces are?

If it is rough and haggard, then I'd start with 80 and work up from there. If it is realatively smooth to start with, then a quick going over with 240 should be fine.

Sanding between coats would depend on how smooth you want the finish to be. Once again, with a work bench surface it hardly seems logical putting in the effort as if you were doing a car or furniture.

As for durability, most turps based lacquers should be fine.
i live in w.va.my bench is very low cost made from 2 kitchen base cabtens free and 3/4ply wood it steady takes abuse well my other bench is the kitchen conter shop is conveted 2bedroom tairler

Steven M. Rundle said:
Hi Dan,

had a similar quesiton earlier this year when I replaced my old work bench. I am originally from Toronto, but now live in Virginia. We get a lot of humidity here and my shop is in my garage. When I lived up north, all my shops were in the basement and didn't have the moisture issue.

Personally, I do not like MDF. I find it can be really hard on saw blades. It also has a habit of denting and it does not hold up to moisture very well. If it gets wet, it will bubble. If it gets soaked it can swell.

What I have done in the past is use a sheet of 3/4" plywood. Then, I laminate that with a 1/2" or 3/4" of oak or birch plywood. I do not glue down the top layer and attach from the bottom with screws. Then, when the top gets beat up, you can take it off and replace it.

As far as finishing goes, I prefer natural oils over stains or paints. They are easy to apply and once I year I reapply oil to my bench if needed. I have made a few benches from of all different sizes. If you have any questions or want any ideas I am happy to help. My email is rundle3@verizon.net

Workbenches are my favorite projects. The wood is relatively cheap (I use 2x4's and 2x6's) and you can try some different joints and techniques.

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