An inexpensive way to create workshop countertops is to use a sheet of plywood as the countertop. Plywood is inexpensive, yet versatile. Plywood is a man- made product composed of successive layers of wood. Each layer is laid with the grain running at a 90-degree angle to the previous layer. The layers are bonded together under heat and pressure and with strong adhesives. The resulting sheet is dimensionally stable and very strong, and therefore suitable for a workshop countertop. Many common thicknesses and grades of plywood are available that you can use as an inexpensive countertop.
Choose the Plywood
Go to a home improvement store or to a lumber yard. Ask the store clerk for a sheet of plywood. Plywood comes in different grades, according to APA,The Engineered Wood Association. The store clerk will assist you with choosing a type of plywood based upon the selection that the store has available. Choose Grade A plywood, if you are interested in a plywood that can be painted and has a limited number of patches. Grade B. is a solid choice, although it has more knots than Grade A, and may have minor splits. Grade C plywood is characterized by visual flaws, but with no loss of structural integrity. Most sheets of plywood are a combination of different grades of quality, because the fronts are of one grade, and the backs are of another grade
Choose plywood that measures 4 feet by 8 feet and is 3/4 inch thick. This is a very common size for a sheet of plywood. Any lumberyard or home improvement center is likely to have this sheet in their stock. Stores charge more for items that they need to order for a particular customer. Avoid delivery costs by transporting the plywood to your home by using your own transportation.
Paint the Countertop
Sand the plywood with sandpaper to create a smoother surface. Carefully remove all dust from the surface. Use the plywood in its raw form as your countertop or finish it with your choice of finishes. Note that plywood is a porous material; be aware that when you paint plywood, the plywood will absorb most of your paint, unless you prime the surface before painting. Prime the plywood with a stain inhibiting primer. Save money on paint by using a good quality primer. Use a paint brush or roller brush to apply the top coat of paint. Choose whatever color you like; however, keep in mind that this is a workshop countertop, and as such, it may get dirty in a short time. Maintain a cleaner appearance, with less time and expense by choosing a darker color for your countertop.
Stain the Countertop
People who prefer a stain to a paint finish may use their choice of wood stain products. Unlike paint, which sits on top of the wood surface, stain is designed to be absorbed by the wood. Stain reveals the natural qualities of the wood, while paint covers and obscures those same qualities. Paint will give you a solid background for your workshop countertop, while a stain will give you a variegated background. Decide for yourself, which may make a more productive work surface for the type of work you will perform in your workshop.
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