How to Refinish a Workbench Top... and Add a Logo

Introduction: How to Refinish a Workbench Top... and Add a Logo

I needed to refinish the surface on my workbench, but I also wanted to try embedding a logo in the finish. There are many ways to do it, but this is how I did it.

Step 1: Video

I recorded the whole project, but this instructable should provide clear instructions for what I did. Feel free to like and subscribe if you want.

Step 2: What You Need

- Water-based finish:

- Synthetic-bristle paint brush:

- Sandpaper (80 grit, 120 grit, & 220 grit)

- Clean water

- Cloth

- Reversed, laser-printed image (optional for logo)

- Scotch Brite pad (optional for aging logo):

- Shop vac (optional to help remove dust)

Step 3: Sand, Sand, Sand,... Sand Some More.

My workbench (actually a tech bench) surface was really rough looking, so I had to be pretty aggressive in the beginning.

  1. Sanding - I started with 80 grit and sanded until I was down to bare, clean, smooth wood.
  2. More sanding - Continue sanding with 120 grit until the entire surface has been completely sanded.
  3. Even more sanding - Finish sanding with 220 grit until the surface is smooth.
  4. Clean - Once sanding is complete, wipe the surface thoroughly to remove dust. A shop vac works great for this.

*** If you are using a water-based finish like I am, you should wipe the clean surface of the wood with a wet cloth and allow it to dry. The wood grain will rise slightly, but sanding lightly with 220 grit will make it smooth again. This will prevent the finish from raising the grain, giving you a rough final finish.

Step 4: Position Your Logo

Now that you have your bench top clean and smooth, you are ready to apply your finish. I decided to embed a logo in my finish at this time. To do this, you'll need to print your image reversed on a laser printer. If you don't have access to a large format printer, you can probably get away with printing multiple small images and stitching them together as long as they are printed at the same scale. Just don't put tape on the ink side of the paper. We're trying to get the ink toner (ink) to transfer from the paper to the finish. If anything is between those layers, the toner won't transfer.

  1. Locate the logo where you want it to be on the bench top.
  2. Use masking tape to hold the image in place along one edge.
  3. Flip the paper over using the tape as a hinge.
  4. Apply a generous layer of finish to the area you will be placing your image. Go a few inches beyond the area that the paper will cover.
  5. Fold the paper back onto the finish being careful to lay it flat to prevent wrinkles. Wrinkles will prevent the transfer of the image, so be sure to work them out. You have a little time to re-position things, but you should work quickly.
  6. Carefully remove the tape.
  7. Gently life the edge that had tape on it and apply finish under it.
  8. Press the image fully into the finish.

Step 5: Apply the First Layer of Finish to the Surface

Now it's time to add finish to the work surface.

  1. Apply finish - Apply a generous layer of finish to the entire bench top with a synthetic brush. A large brush will make this go faster.
  2. Cure - Allow the finish to cure for two hours, or follow the instructions for the product you are using.

*** If you added the logo like I did, then start applying the finish from the wet area around the logo.

Step 6: Reveal Your Logo

Once the finish has cured for approximately two hours, you will be ready to complete the toner transfer.

  1. Saturate - Thoroughly wet the paper with clean water for approximately ten minutes. The paper will look translucent, revealing the logo.
  2. Rub, rub, more rub - Gently rub the paper, removing it from the surface. If it doesn't rub away, apply more water and allow it to saturate.
  3. Be careful - When rubbing the paper away from the areas covering toner, be careful. Being too aggressive here may remove the ink, which can ruin your logo.
  4. Clean - Gently wipe the logo with a wet cloth to make sure you have removed all the paper.
  5. OPTIONAL - I wanted my logo to look aged, so I gently scrubbed it with a Scotch Brite pad. Age as much or as little as you like.
  6. Dry - Clean up the water on the bench top and allow the surface to dry

*** Larger logos will require constant addition of water as they will start to dry out.

Step 7: Sand, Finish, Sand, Finish,...

Now that your logo is set in the finish, it isn't completely safe from wear until it is encapsulated in finish.

  1. Sand - Lightly sand the applied finish with 220 grit sand paper. DO NOT sand the logo at this point as it will remove the toner.
  2. Clean - Wipe the surface clean of any sanding residue.
  3. Finish - Apply another layer of finish.
  4. Cure - Allow the finish to cure for two hours.
  5. Repeat - Repeat as many times as you wish. The logo may be lightly sanded in additional steps as it is protected by a layer of finish. I applied three layers.
  6. Sand - After the last layer of finish has cured for a minimum of two hours, lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper and wipe clean. Your bench is ready to use.

Step 8: Before and After

My workbench was pretty rough, but now it's in great shape... and my logo is embedded and protected with finish. Because the logo is embedded in the finish, I can always sand it out if I don't like it.

I hope this helps anyone considering doing the same.

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    5 years ago

    Cool! Thanks so much for sharing this :)


    5 years ago

    Love this! Looks great.

    I recently built a standing desk and have also used this method for transfering an image to wood... Hadn't considered combining the two.


    Stonewall Craftworks
    Stonewall Craftworks

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks! I was a bit nervous about the scale of this transfer for my first, but it worked out good enough for me.