New plywood over an uneven work surface


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Hi everyone - 

After relocating to the PNW last summer, I'm finally getting around to a fun to-do item: resurfacing the workbench in the shop area of the house we bought. It's simple plywood and 2x4 cabinetry - incredibly stable, and the right size along the length of the way - but the surface itself is nowhere close to flat. The seams between the old plywood are up to 1/8" out of flat. The easiest thing for me to do would be to drop a 3/4" sheet of ply over top, screw it down and call it a day, but then I worry about the ply flexing under load as I do hand planing or something. Otherwise, I could shim the worst of it before screwing it down, or go thicker with an actual wood top. Thoughts? Alternatives? Am I missing an obvious way to level the current surface before putting down the new surface?


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My first thought is to make sure that the existing surface is solid with no flex or give anywhere. then use some leveling compound like that sold for use on flooring. Most of the leveling compounds I have used set up fairly quickly. So, you may want to set some screed strips at 3-4 locations and then do one section at a time. Of course, all the screed strips should be parallel with each other and at the same relative height so your plywood or mdf top will be level. Rather than plywood, I would be inclined to use mdf with a hardwood edge and then put a replaceable 1/4" hardboard top on that.

That's a nice looking planer sled. Does it work well or have you used it yet?

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The existing surface is very solid. If it flexes or gives, I can't tell. Your idea for leveling compound is great, and I'll look into it.

Yeah, the planer sled works great. If I did it again, I wouldn't use melamine shelving for the main body. Even with sandpaper on the bottom of the risers and wedges, it's still a little slippery. But the basic construction is stiff over its' length, and easy to grab and move.

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