workbench wood


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I am starting the holy quest of bench wood decision. After looking at scores of pictures one thing I have noticed is that every bench I have seen uses a light colored wood. Has anyone made a bench out of walnut or any other dark colored wood? Is there a good reason why workbenches have stuck to light colored woods? I could see the choice for light colored woods on an assembly bench but you are likely not working with small parts on your workbench.

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My Roubo is made of Walnut, Cherry and Ebony. I choose those materials based to some degree on economics. Nearly all of the wood used on my Roubo was either given to me, recycled, left over, or some o

I've been thinking about doing an epic scrap wood consumption bench.  I'm a confessed scrap wood pack rat and I go through a lot of walnut and almost as much cherry.  So I've been thinking about lamin

Humble, indeed...at least your attitude.  Your bench was built by an expert...a humble one...and it's double secret probation cool because it's different.  Plus the killer journal you kept.  I think y

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I think it's because the vast majority of benches are made out of maple, ash or pine, which just happen to be light colored woods.  Around here, 8/4 walnut is 8-9 bucks/bf, so it's cost prohibitive.  A walnut bench would be wicked looking though.

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==> so you can see what is on it

I was told the top is traditionally light so you can use it as a background to assist adjusting your plane irons...

 

But I think the reality is that folks just used whatever hard wood was available locally and inexpensively... 

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I think The Schwarrrzzzz mentioned it ... not 100% sure. Would not bet the farm on it.

 

in regards of the type of wood ... or hardness ... I heard that if the material is too hard, or is a lot harder than your work, that could mar your pieces if they slip of your hands.

 

Not sure I get why that would make a difference?

 

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I think The Schwarrrzzzz mentioned it ... not 100% sure. Would not bet the farm on it.

 

in regards of the type of wood ... or hardness ... I heard that if the material is too hard, or is a lot harder than your work, that could mar your pieces if they slip of your hands.

 

Yeah I get the hardness factor.  But I don't see why it would make a difference what color it is for any practical purpose...unless it was like pencil and tape measure camo...I wouldn't like that.

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Within reason anything will do. All that is important is you like it, scrap book some images of your faves. For polished and perfect Frank Klaus and Rob Cosman have beautiful benches

 

http://youtu.be/U-3c5UNgDBo (a tour of cosmans)

 

Forum members Vic and ~ERIC~ have a pair of stunning workbenchs that strike a wondeful balance of furniture making skills and utility

 

a64f4cb62162152fe0c946212211cf38.jpg~ERIC~

 

Or like me you go for humble

 

In-Use.jpg

 

In my short time on WTO I have seen evidence of nearly all types of benches expertly made (the others that is, not me) so whatever direction you go there is plenty of knowledge here. We all like a sweet WIP too. Best of luck with you timber choice and your build.

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Humble, indeed...at least your attitude.  Your bench was built by an expert...a humble one...and it's double secret probation cool because it's different.  Plus the killer journal you kept.  I think you get big ups just for not building a Roubo.  A lesser man jumps on the bandwagon.  Guilty.

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+1 on this. The older I get, the more light I need to see what I'm doing. Light objects on a light background seem easier to see than dark on dark.

My workshop isn't bright enough for me to add a large, dark colored object.  I like dark wood in general, but in my work shop I need all the light I can get.

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My $0.02, was just reading through Schwartz's blog, and he has a post on workbench wood. It can be summarized as 'use whatever you want that gets the job done'. Traditional benches were light coloured because they were made of beech, as it was cheap at the time. Also, if you find the post, he has the chart up from his workbench book that gives you the hardness of various wood species. 

Having built and painted 28mm scale models in the past, I would advocate for a light-coloured surface so you can find small objects when you drop them. Otherwise you will be using a flashlight to try and get said object to cast a shadow because you can't see it otherwise.

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Well, since you are in my neck of the woods, I will tell you to go buy yourself some SYP - yep, Home Depot or Lowes, southern yellow pine 2x12x16' Long and straight, cut off the last few inches on either end, cut them in 1/2 and sticker them for as long as you can. Or as long as it takes you to get around to building the bench ;-) That way they will be nice and seasoned.  I have a hoard of mine sitting in my lumber rack for a few years now... Fairly hard wood for a softwood, dense and it has some weight to it, so if you do build a roubo, it wont scoot around the room on you. Good luck with your build.

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I've been thinking about doing an epic scrap wood consumption bench.  I'm a confessed scrap wood pack rat and I go through a lot of walnut and almost as much cherry.  So I've been thinking about laminating up scraps of walnut for a bench top and cherry for legs or perhaps solid blocks at the ends.  Just thinking about the top, making it 32"ish wide which is what my current bench is from 4/4 scraps would take about 42-43 separate glue-ups of scraps.  Might take quite a few years but it would satisfy my compulsions without the scraps just consuming space all over the place.  I could glue them up into 4-5" slabs and set those aside until it was all ready to go.

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Actually, I built my bench out of purpleheart.  Hard, heavy.  It's a small bench, and I thought when I built it I might have to bolt it down, but mass keeps me from chasing it across the floor.  That's the up side.  The fact that I found 8/4 stock at $5/bf, because they were "shorts" (6 feet long, but long enough for what I was doing) was also a huge plus.

 

On the down side, it is a light sink, and I am getting older.  But I don't mind that so much, because I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.  

 

What I do mind, and what I did not count on at the time was how difficult purple heart is to work with hand tools.  Most significantly, one does not flatten the top with a hand plane, not even a LN #8.  The belt sander is much more efficient.  Dog holes are now only done with router bits or Forstner bits.  The purple heart destroyed the screw on a hand brace bit.  And don't mind those sloppy dovetails on the sides.  There's only so precise you can be when one whack on a chisel destroys the edge on a Marples blue handled chisel, or three chips out A2 tool steel on an LN chisel.  

 

But I like my bench.

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