A workbench is a must for a woodworker. A good, sturdy workbench constructed at the proper height helps reduce the strain on a woodworker's back. The top of the workbench can vary depending on the type of projects you intend to use the workbench for, but no matter your needs, a workbench top is an easy item to construct and attach.
If your top is intended to fit flush with the framing, then a plywood top is a good choice. Build the frame for your table and measure the top frame dimensions. Cut the plywood to the correct dimension and lay it flat on the ground. Fit the frame in place on the top and attach it to the top. There are two ways of attaching the plywood to the top frame: nail or screw the plywood through the top into the frame or use pocket-hole joinery to attach the plywood from underneath. If you want a smooth-top finish for your table, then pocket-hole joinery is the best method. Once the top is attached, finish it with a sealant that helps protect it from moisture or finish the top off with laminate.
If you want your top to extend beyond the frame in order to hold vises and other clamping devices, then an MDF top is a good choice. Determine the size of your desired top and be sure to add the measurement for the overlapped portion to the actual measurement of the frame. Cut two pieces of MDF to your measurements. Glue the MDF together, and allow it to dry. When the MDF is completely dry, use 1 1/4-inch drywall screws inserted through the bottom of the top to strengthen the bond between the two pieces of MDF. Place the top flat on the ground and position the frame exactly where you want it to be in order to create the overhang you desire. Attach the top using pocket-hole joinery or brackets and finish the top with a sealant or laminate.
If you have the luck to find one, a solid-wood, non-ornamental door makes a great workbench top. Most newly manufactured doors are not solid wood, and the doors that are solid wood are often ornamental in design. However, if you know a person or company that does old-home demolition work, it's worth asking them if they have a door you can purchase. If you find a suitable door, lay it flat on the ground and place the frame on top of it. Attach the door-top to the frame using pocket-hole joinery or brackets. Finish the top with a sealant or laminate.
- Taunton Series Press Project Plans: Simple, Sturdy Workbench; Asa Christiana; 2008
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