Workbench Tops

The Wife asked what I would like to have for my shop this Christmas and I
mentioned stainless steel overlays for the two plywood topped
So, before I put the plan in motion, I thought I'd ask here to be sure this
choice of material will be the right one. The work I do there is mostly
connected to cars so grease & grime is an issue. There's also a bit of light
hammering and lots of chips from my benchtop lathe so formica covering
wouldn't hold up.
Any thoughts or experiences appreciated guys.
Steve Monroe
Reply to
Steve Monroe
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If your not intent on having it formed, I would go with full hard or 3/4 hard material....I have a roll of what used to be 48" wide by 280 foot long .080" stainless dryer oven conveyor belting, which I have been cutting up to use as bench tops was free........but its a real bitch to work with.......its like one big spring and I hatre to think what it would b e like if it ever got a chance to uncoil itself......I keep a nylon strap and a chain wrapped around it and have to unroll it a bit at a time using vise grips on the edges. Visit my website:
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expressed are those of my wife, I had no input whatsoever. Remove "nospam" from email addy.
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Stainless seems a bit over the top, unless you have a "used resaurant supply" business handy with an oversupply of stainless tables. Should work nicely, but more expensive and difficult to bend than plain old galvanized, which works well in this application.
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I have a few 3/4" thick plates that are a few square feet each on top of a work bench in convenient areas. I got them at a junkyard for scrap price.and took a belt sander to them. Sheetmetal is going to get pretty dinged-up and you can't hammer on it.
Reply to
Tom Gardner
If it were me I'd not worry about stainless, unless you gotta pass a health department inspection. I'd go with 10 ga. (more or less 1/8") hot rolled, pickled and oiled. 10 ga. should be plenty thick so as to avoid dents, if you really plan on beating on it you could go with 3/16. The P and O finish has the mill scale removed and is a nice uniform steel gray color. Instead of buying at the local steal supplier go see a fab shop and have them bend a 90 degree lip on the front edge that hangs down about a 1/4" past the bottom side of the top. Oils and solvents will drip off instead of soaking into the top.
Drill and countersink and attach with drywall screws or wood screws, just a few on the front edge and maybe three on each end. If you do a lot of C Clamping on the edges put separate strips of the same stuff on the bottom.
Some steel suppliers can do the bending as well as shear to size but I'd price the whole thing from a fab shop also.
This won't be the same as a good welding table, obviously, but should hold up quite well for mechanical work up to and including engine work.
This is just how I'd do it, if you gotta have stainless go for it, but the materials will be quite a bit more.
Reply to
Paul Batozech
I have 18 gauge stainless sheet metal bought from a scrap yard folded over the press-board tops on all my roller cabinets. Doesn't soak up oil, and wipes off easily. I thought the thin sheet would not take abuse but they have held up really well.
I have one of those Kennedy workbenches with drawers and a really thick maple top. I put a 3/8" mild steel top over the maple. I have tapped it in multiple spots for 1/2" by 13 holes. I keep the unused holes filled with set screws set flush with the surface. Works great, I can move vices, benders, and my arbor press on and off as needed.
The piece of steel I bought was hot rolled and rusted. After a few unproductive hours with an angle grinder, I took the steel to a sandblaster and had it cleaned to bright. Best $40 I ever spent there.
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Hey George,
Glad it didn't happen to you, but sand-blasting can cause oil-canning or warpage in sheet steels. Make sure a soft media at low force is used to reduce the risk.
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell,,Ontario.
Reply to
Brian Lawson
I have two kinds of workbench tops. All my workbenches are the Sears benches, with lots of drawers. All have been beefed up with additional bracing, thick backs, rails, etc. so that they can take a lot of weight.
1. Regular benches that don't take much abuse are all formica kitchen cabinet tops. Bought these at Home-Owner's hell on sale, some with chipped corners, etc. The cost was about the same as unfinished 3/4" flakeboard tops would have been. The work surface is very easy to clean and keep clean. It is smooth and impervious to all the chemicals I use. These are for my model-making, layout, and also on which I have smaller power tools: two grinders, two buffers/wire brush, belt sander, thin belt sander, die filer.
2. One bench has a galvanized steel top that came with the Sears benches. This is 3/4" flake board with a thin galvanized top. I have a scroll saw, table saw, and band saw on part of this bench. The rest is used for heavier torch work.
3. One top is solid steel 24" x 48", 1/4" with 3" deep side skirts. Metal working vice, wood working vice mounted on this bench. This one is for banging and clanging. The 1/4" steel top may wear down in time, but even with heavy belt sanding to clean it off twice or so a year, this should outlast me.
4. My 12 x 48 Clausing lathe is on another bench. This is a very heavily re-enforced Sears workbench. It also has a 24 x 48" steel top with an extension to bring it up to the full length of 68". On top of this is a kitchen counter top. The lathe is bolted through to the steel plate, which gives the entire bench great rigidity. But the press board out of which the counter top is made helps to dampen sound. Also, it is much easier to clean and keep clean than the metal too directly would be.
5. The backsplash edge of kitchen counter tops is very handy. On the lathe I used it to attach a backplate to keep the swarf under control. For the other benches the back edge keeps stuff from falling behind the unmovable workbenches. The joint between the back splash and counter top is slightly rounded -- which also helps in cleanup.
6. I used to have flakeboard and plywood tops. No more. Much too hard to keep clean. The surface absorbs oil and grease and soon becomes spongy. The kitchen counter tops are far more durable. Now the only plywood and flakeboard surfaces left are under things that never get moved. When I have something greasy and messy to do, I usually do it on one of the metal tops. I your case I would recommend: a. Get a fabricator to make you a heavy (1/4") steel top for the really nasty work -- put your bench vice on that. b. Thin galvanized steel for the greasy stuff, heat, etc. on top of flakeboard (better than plywood). c. Kitchen cabinet counter tops for clean work.
Reply to
Boris Beizer
No Doubt. I had my very low numbered '47 chevy pickup truck hood screwed up that way. All I could think of was to put AC line foam between the cab and hood so it would "fit" again.
I'd love to find and buy that truck back. Oh, and if one ever sand blasts around the manufacturer's tag make sure the tag is covered very well with something like thick rubber and screwed on. The title means nothing if the tag is a sparkly aluminum plate. The truck now has a WI ID welded on of ''83-'84 and bud and mil. cans for the '54 283? ci. main shims if anyone happens to run across it.
Personally I think I got really lucky that WI would give me a title at all as long as I lied and had to say it was about 4-5 different trucks out of the junkyard. IIRC I had the original TX title and they didn't even want to see it. ;o/
I know it's slim chance , but it was said to be put to pasture north of SA TX. Has 1" oak door panels, 3" oak running boards, and a mahogany flat bed.
Sorry, getting carried away. But , as we all know it would be cool to find those things of the past. I had an offer to buy back one of the water beds I built , but it is too far away and the guy is a playboy and not sure if I could clean the raw cider well enough for me use it again. I went to a lot of trouble to make that thing. The herds of mosquitoes of the WI swamps comes to mind. I had made another just like it out of 3"X7" laminated redwood , one horizontal and the other vertical to make the 9" and pedestal type. All sold in the same area. I'd rather have the redwood one back , but finding it seems next to impossible. Any ideas after 20 yrs.?
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|||| ||SNIP ||>The piece of steel I bought was hot rolled and rusted. After a few ||>unproductive hours with an angle grinder, I took the steel to a sandblaster ||>and had it cleaned to bright. Best $40 I ever spent there. ||> ||>George ||> ||Hey George, || ||Glad it didn't happen to you, but sand-blasting can cause oil-canning ||or warpage in sheet steels. Make sure a soft media at low force is ||used to reduce the risk.
His "sheet" was 3/8" thick, so he probably figured he was safe ;) Texas Parts Guy
Reply to
I just saw a friend's new garage, he covered to benches with what looked like 14ga ss, with an edge broken across the front of the bench
the 14ga would be heavy enough that you wouldn't have to worry about putting any dings in it under normal use
Reply to
Jon Grimm

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