Intro: How to Create a Laminated Workbench Top
Lets make a butcher block style laminated workbench top! This is a companion piece to my workbench build.
Use the attached CAD file to see your material schedule. You'll also need the following tools:
- Circular Saw
- Table Saw
- Saw Horses
- Forstner Bit
- Wood Boring Bit
- Bar Clamps
- Speed Square
- Circular Saw Guide
- Appropriately Sized Sockets
Step 1: Rip Your Boards
This step is very important as it will give you a flat surface on the top of your work bench surface. Using your table saw, set your fence so that your are removing between 1/8" and 1/4" of material from one side of the board. This will remove the rounded edges that come on nominal lumber pieces. You may choose to use a planer instead of the table saw. Either option is viable, just use what you are comfortable with, and what you have available. I'd recommend having at least two people if you'd like to use the table-saw, however. As seen in the photos, Make sure that you use a push rod as you come to the end of the rip cut. Safety is of the utmost importance when using any type of blade for cuts. Make sure that you stack the boards neatly when you finish ripping each one to protect the new square edge.
Step 2: Cut Slab to Length
Now that you have completed your ripping, it is time to get your boards to the appropriate length. I chose to use a circular saw to cut the boards, however you can take each individual piece and use a miter saw on each piece. My slabs are 17 boards thick, and I did not feel like making that many miter cuts. Make sure you set your guide straight and true. Check many times as you will be creating the edge that will be visible on the end of your workbench.
Step 3: Create Rod Path
Next up we are going to make holes for the threaded rod to pass through all of the boards to keep the block in a compressed state at all times. This will reduce the number of clamps you'll need while gluing, and give you a stronger surface if you will be using hammers or other heavy items on the top. I started the first and last piece with a forstner bit that is big enough for the washer for the rod to fit into. I only drilled these to half depth so that the washer would have a surface to clasp on all the boards. This allows for a flush surface where the nut attaches and holds the bench tight. I finished the interior boards and the face boards with the ripping bit so that they rod would pass through. I did over size this hole 1/8" as well, just to give myself some tolerance to move around as I was assembling.
Step 4: Glue It!
Now for the fun part! Glue all the things!
I used Elmer's wood glue to laminate all these pieces. Spread a liberal amount of glue all over the boards and stack them. Make sure you have a good amount on each board. Once you have glued all of them, insert the rod with a washer and nut on one end and insert it into your rod path. You may need to wiggle a bit, but eventually you'll get the rod all the way through. once it is through, attach the other washer and nut so you can tighten the rod.
Step 5: Clamp, Tight!
Tighten your rods with your ratchets and add the clamps on the ends. This will apply nice and even pressure to promote a good strong bond to each layer of the laminate. Your glue will take about 1 hour to set before you can release the clamps. I chose to leave mine clamped overnight. Once dry you will have a good strong bond for the workbench tops.
Step 6: Place Your Slabs
The last step is to put your slabs into place. Make sure you attach the slabs very securely. These will be very heavy. My pieces weigh in at nearly 150 pounds. That would not be a fun thing to have fall on your toes just because it was not secured. I chose to use Simpson strong ties to secure the frame to the tops. Make sure that you level the tops before you secure them. After that you can step back, and enjoy your handiwork!