If you are like most woodworking enthusiasts, sooner or later you will need to purchase workbench lumber. Whether you’re building a new woodworking workbench or reconfiguring an old one, the type of wood you choose will have an impact on the stability and longevity of your bench. For woodworkers of all skill levels, there are several types of wood that can be used to build quality workbenches. However, there are a few varieties that offer unique characteristics that are worth considering when selecting wood for your project.
Pine is often thought of as a woodworking favorite. It’s a light-colored wood that offers a warm, inviting appearance. Unfortunately, the pine tree is susceptible to rotting in wet or moist environments, making this variety of wood an inappropriate choice for high-traffic woodworking benches. Fortunately, the various kinds of glue or adhesive available for use with pine will provide adequate support while avoiding unnecessary splintering.
Cherry is a popular wood for projects requiring a wide, flat surface. Its naturally occurring wood grains complement the unique straight grain patterns found in its wood, creating a rich, uniform surface. Unfortunately, exposure to moisture or chemicals may cause the wood to warp. Methylene propane bleaching is a commonly used wood conditioner that may help prevent warping. However, even treated cherry wood will eventually deteriorate due to exposure to moisture or acid in the air. A properly conditioned wood with a stable woodworking finish will prevent early damage caused by these conditions.
Sawdust from felled trees is often used as lumber, but the fine, split wood pieces produced should be made from proper dimensions. While larger boards can be easily glued or nailed together, small planks need to be properly milled and sized for safe working. Regardless, of whether the sawdust is from a local wood processing plant or someone’s backyard, the piece should be roughly six to eight inches long and between eight to ten inches wide.
When woodworking projects require precise measurements and exact proportions, many turners turn their attention to the more expensive ready made bench top plans. Although some designs are very detailed and require accurate molds, many turners enjoy the intricate details available from a well-designed ready made bench top. For example, the highly detailed dovetail joints provide a strong, professional look similar to those seen on commercial woodworking machinery. Because of the accuracy involved, hand turned lumber is often quite expensive, but woodworkers with experience turn their skills into reliable commercial woodworking products.
Many people who enjoy woodworking designs have discovered the fun, artistic aspect of cross-shaped bench tops made from recycled lumber. Although the raw materials for this type of project are also inexpensive, the finished product adds character and charm to any woodworking area. Some types of recycled lumber are also suitable for milling and turning. Treestle tops are a common woodworking example of recycled lumber that has been turned into a woodturning staple. Made out of thin strips of wood, the treestle top is a classic woodworking item that provides unique design options. Like other forms of recycled lumber, treestle tops can be drilled and tapped for various woodworking uses.
Some experienced woodworkers enjoy building large, solid workbench tops. The large square surface of these top designs makes them ideal for cutting, planing, and molding. Some milling machines, such as the lathe, make it simple to turn large pieces of wood for these purposes. This is especially helpful if a woodworker wants to create a large piece of furniture, such as a dining table or chest of drawers. Large solid worktops made from recycled lumber are an excellent choice for woodworkers with a large workload, since they require less frequent replacement of tools.
Woodworkers may also choose to build a number of smaller tables and benches from recycled lumber. These items are known as “mixed models.” A typical bench in this category will have a cross-sectional piece made from one piece of wood covered with veneer. Cross sections are often made from two or more wood surfaces, depending on the needs of the woodworker. In general, a workbench model of this type will consist of one piece of wood bonded to two or more pieces of thin wood glued or nailed together at the joints. This method allows a woodworker the opportunity to create the same types of molds required for miter saw mitered worktops and table saw mortises.