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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a pretty large workbench. At one time 30 years ago it was the base for a pedestal style bed. There were two halves, each halve had 2 drawers in each ofnthem, so they fit together in a square which a the main bed sat on. It was custom made for me and i used it as a bed for years. Problem was, im 6'7 and it put the bed really high. As the yaers passed and matreeses became thicker and thicker it just made my bed higher and higher...i could still get in it, but i had to lift my leg up onto it if you know what i mean. Well tthem came my marriage to a woman who is 5 ft tall....yeah...at first i made a step. She got tired of the xtra space the step ate up, so i pulled pedestal out and made a new one out of 2x4 , making it a more normal height.

Thats a long back story. Sorry.

Anyway i took the old pedestal out and stacked one side on the othwr amd it is the perfect table height. Ive been using it as my work table ever since. So you get an idea, i have an old door on top of it as a table top and it just about fits perfect.

So im now going to make this officaially my work bench. Kept the two drawers on bottom, and am turning the two on top into shelf space and a place to hold my drills and sanders.

Im chuxking tje door amd am putting a big piece of 3/4" ply on top. I want to cover it with formica or laminate, and i also want to install T tracks.

FINALLY MY QUESTION

DO i put on the laminate firat, covwr the entire thing, then router it for the T Tracks? Or do i put in the T tracks and put the laminate on after?

Im also installing a an electric plug on top.

Any thoughts appreciated

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Put that outlet somewhere it can't get dripped into, dropped on, dropped into, knicked, dinged or otherwise assaulted by any number of the many things that will find their way to it.
If you must laminate, laminate first, then dado your tracks into place....

just another couple cents worth, I'd forgo the laminate..the 3/4 ply will look like a work top after a couple years, I'm not so sure about a laminated top???
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ive gone back and forth on the laminate. Ive seen some on youtube that look nice, and im thinkiy would be easier to clean but ive had the same thought.

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I don't know this from experience, but I would think that with a laminate you lose a good bit of friction when clamping down onto it...might just be 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
 

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Im chuxking tje door amd am putting a big piece of 3/4" ply on top. I want to cover it with formica or laminate, and i also want to install T tracks.

FINALLY MY QUESTION

DO i put on the laminate firat, covwr the entire thing, then router it for the T Tracks? Or do i put in the T tracks and put the laminate on after?
Tom- just thinking about it...T Track will take up at least half of the thickness of the plywood if you don't double it to make it 1 1/2 inches thick. I say before you do anything, do some testing to see how the screws will old the track when you have something clamped and pulling against the screws.

Good luck. Post some pics of your bench when you have time.
 

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I was wondering about that too...

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Not knowing how your frame is built and how the plywood will sit on top of it, you could attach a 3 inch wide strip underneath in the areas where it wouldn't get in the way of mounting the top to the frame. Just some extra beef in the area under and to either side of where the track will be dadoed. Glue and a few clamps should do just fine until the glue dries. Or use screws, then remove them after everything is dry.
 

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I built a table from 5/8 melamine a few years ago and dadoed it for t track which only left 1/4" of meat under the tracks but I lined the grooves up with stringers under them and the table worked perfectly and was always flat. After 4 years of using it I left it with my SIL when I moved home from northern Alberta. They are moving back home so I just dismantled it to avoid having to pack it back and it was still flat.

The current table's fence just clamps on and is also a single thickness with lam on top but there is no lam on the underside of the overhang so I've had no issues with slippage. I glued the lam onto mdf and the lam lasts longer than the mdf but it's not a big deal either way. Both are fairly slippery and the mdf would go quite a while too.
 

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Double up on the top with either another layer of ply or MDF. I'd also put some 1x2 or 3 straight boards (trusses) under the table to help it stay flat. Double layer will also give a better grip for the dog holes. If you use MDF, make sure you pre drill for any screws you install into it. It splits and tears out easily. This double will be heavy, but that helps with table stability. If you use the plywood for the top, wax, wax, wax it. Glue drips from squeeze out leaves raised areas bumpy, and waxed surfaces are easier to clean off

If you want a renewable top, which is my preference, put a 1/4 inch thick high density fiber board (Masonite) on top and wax the heck out of it to keep glue drippings from sticking. Use some 1x around the edges set high enough to hold the replacable top in position and protect the edges. Maybe counter sink screws on the corners to hold it down. Don't glue it down.

Get a roll of brown craft paper and or a roll of 18 inch butcher paper (white) to work on when gluing or staning. It will protect the top from inevitable spills, drips, etc.

Put the outlet on the side of the legs, or mount under one edge of the bench top so the outlets face out. Be sure to use a cable clamp of some sort for the wire, and I'd use at least 12 gauge cable.

Assemble the whole thing, then drill the 3/4 inch dog holes. Later, you can mount the top on a custom cabinet and put in shelves and drawers as you wish. I put doors on all my cabinets, it helps keep the sawdust out.

The double ply structure is also strong enough to mount an end vise, and maybe even a side vise in the future. I would never put T-track in a workbench, it isn't that useful. You can get clamps that fit in the dog holes, add an end vise to use with dog holes to hold pieces, or mount the T-track on a separate piece of ply and pull it out when needed. You may find you don't want the T-track built into the table, so waiting to install them is your safe bet.
 

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Tom, I haven't read the entire thread but I would ask what type of bench dogs are you using? My dog holes (in 1 1/2" mdf) go all the way through. I'm using Lee Valley dogs and some home made dogs as well. With the holes going all the way through, and a snug fit for the dogs, I can adjust the dogs to any height and can then push them up and out from the bottom of the bench top.
 

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Tom - my workbench top is two sheets of 3/4" mdf. I drilled 3/4" dog holes all the way through. Here's a pic of the dogs I use. The brass one at the back is from Lee Valley. I bought the longer one labelled as "a" in the link from Lee Valley. You can see from the link that the bench dog has a "spring" attached so that it creates a snug fit. Having the holes go all the way through enables me to push up the dogs from underneath.

Veritas® Round Bench Dogs & Muzzles - Lee Valley Tools

The wooden one's I made from 3/4" dowel, glued into a piece of 1/4" plywood.
 

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+1 on the 1/4" Masonite, tempered preferred as it holds up to "impacts" better, and the surface is smoother. Definitely wax, and reapply and buff periodically. Depending on the size, you may need additional screws in the center.

Don't know if you'll have access to the underside of the top, but you might want to look at making up some of these modified clamps, the ones sold by HF are good enough for this. I would put a thin nylon washer between the two parts so that it swivels easier, and just tighten the nut down until the parts don't wiggle.
 

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The Bench dog holes.need ro be like 2" deep

Would it be crazy to manke the top out of 2x4 on there side?

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There are as many opinions on this as there are benches. My answer is what kind of work to you do? Years ago I made a 2x4 bench because it was all I could afford. It served me well for the type of wood working I did back then. But now it wouldn't work for me, and the quality of 2x material available is far worse than it was back then. I went from that bench to a mdf bench with a 1/4" replaceable hard board top and used that for several years. That bench is now my "utility/junk holder" bench that gets used for everything but woodworking. Now my hand tool to power tool ratio is about 30/70 and I prefer a heavy bench with a thick hardwood top. I also use my bench as an assembly table and breaking down rough lumber and ply, so it needs to be flat, wide and provide places for creative clamping.

I believe that a work bench is one of the few tools that a woodworker can truly customize to the individual. So make your bench to suit you and your work.
 

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Bob Adams suggestions are really good. I agree that it will be difficult to find tight grain, kiln dried 2xby material that will be clear of knots, twists, and other flaws, so I'd stick to the 2 layer table with waxed masonite replacable top. You'll be able to do clamping easily and have plenty of space for assembly.

If you need a hardwood table later, you can build it with a super heavy base. and maybe $600-$800 worth of nice maple, vise and hardware. Oh, and don't forget the heavy timber for the legs and base.

I guess the 2 by pine would be ok...if you put a layer of masonite on top. :wink:
 
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