Hi all.. new joiner and first post! (and apparently flat workbenches are a popular topic )
So I have begun a workbench project for my garage. It will primarily be used as a general service bench (fixing cars and/or whatever) but I considered putting dog holes etc so it can pull double duty as a woodworking bench.
The working surface is the subject of my question. Instead of the usual route I converted my grandparent’s old late 50’s early 60’s era dining room table (including it's three leaves) into the bench top. This consisted of biscuiting and edge gluing the pieces together, sitting it on top of 3/4” OSB, screwing the whole assembly into the frame, edging it with 1×2 red oak, and inserting wood plugs (I went a little overboard here lol). It is probably not a woodworker’s first choice, but it had sentimental value and rather than trash it I figured I’d use it. Plus it is real big (104” L and trimmed down to 36” D)
Problem I’m having now is that a dining room table is not meant for this type of joinery. Overall it is pretty flat, but there is a high spot right in the middle which makes it about 1/8” bowed end to end. I planned on sanding it but found that the veneer of the leaves is extremely thin vs the table sections…. as you can see in the last pic, I already went through in a couple of places just getting the joints level. If I try to hog out 1/8 it will definitely go through.
The good news is that the core of both the table and leaves is wood (see 2nd pic – leaf on left, table on top). The leaves have a thicker layer of what I am guessing is either cork or some 1950's incarnation of particle board. Either way probably not ideal for a workbench surface. The cores are about 5/8”-11/16” of what looks like poplar, maybe pine.
So now I’m left with two choices:
1) Sand it as best I can to finish it, don’t worry about the spots it went through, finish and just use the thing. The good news is that 52” on each side is flat.
2) Somehow remove the roughly 3/16” surface to get to the wood core, then sand the whole thing flat as possible. As far as this, maybe router sled then chisel off what I can't hit, or electric plane it. Just afraid to make a giant mess and/or gouge the heck out of the cores.
So with all that in mind, open to ideas on the best choice… or even one I haven’t thought of yet. Sorry for writing a book and thanks for any advice!