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Old 10-23-2012, 08:40 AM   #1
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


I'm building a 12' long work bench at the back of my garage. I just finished the drywall, mud and tape, and put a coat of primer on the walls for a 'clean' look to the garage. I was able to find some good quality white kitchen cabinets on Kijiji to build my workbench out of. I've already hung the upper cabinets.

For the lowers, I plan on beefing up the cabinets by building a 2x4 frame on the inside of the cabinet (where I can to keep it clean looking on the outside), or on the outside if I have to (i.e., on the fronts of the cabinets I may have to put the 2x4 frame on the outside because the cabinet drawers don't give any room to hide the 2x4's inside the cabinet). Either way, the workbench surface will be supported by the 2x4 frame, and not just merely the cabinets. I tend to go overkill on things like this, so I'm sure the frame will be solid.

Where I need help is for the workbench surface, and any coatings I should be placing on it (depending on the type of surface I install). I've searched google for some ideas, but still don't know what will be best for a strong surface, yet look nice too.

I'd love to hear your ideas. The cabinets may be slightly away from the drywall as the foundation wall sticks out a bit, so the counter top will be slightly more than the standard kitchen counter top depth of 25 1/2". Assume it will be about 27" deep, and 144" wide.

About a 4' stretch of the wall in the middle of the bench juts out 5 1/2". There will be no base cabinets under this area (I'll put my compressor, stool, etc. here). For the workbench, I'll just notch out this area.

Thanks in advance for your tips, ideas and advice!

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Old 10-23-2012, 08:56 AM   #2
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


I just build a 2 X 4 frame (like your building a deck) and set it up on top of the cabinets just like you would install a countertop. You can screw the back 2 X 4 to the studs. Add 3/4" plywood, for a back splash just stand up a 2 X 4 on end if you want. Any porch and deck paint would be tough and could be cleaned and touched up easly.

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Old 10-23-2012, 09:12 AM   #3
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Tempered hardboard on top of plywood makes a good surface.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:02 AM   #4
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


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Tempered hardboard on top of plywood makes a good surface.
and if glued down using several strategically placed ( choose your own size ) squares, rectangles or strips of kraft paper and Elmer's it will be a snap to replace in 20 years if desired. The paper will split when you lift it.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


I like the tempered hardboard idea on kraft paper. In my google search, someone recommended having the sides around the workbench 1/4" higher so that you can place the custom fitted hardboard inside, or 1/2" higher and cut two pieces of hardboard to fit inside so you can just exchange the two surfaces quickly when the old hardboard surface needs to be replaced.

It's probably worth a trip to a building store to see what materials they have in stock and get some more ideas.

Does hardboard have to be treated with anything?
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Butcher block top, available at the Swedish store for a reasonable price per slab, very durable and looks great.

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Old 10-23-2012, 01:56 PM   #7
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Mine is 2 layers of 3/4 plywood laminated together with a 1/4 tempered masonite cap. Then I have a 3/4"x 2-1/2" face board across the front. I built my own cabinets with 3/4 plywood sides which are plenty strong for support. Instead of taking up extra space with 2x4s, I'd cut some 3/4" plywood for extra support if you need it. I'd screw a 2x4 cleat to the wall behind the cabinet to rest the back of the counter top on.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


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Mine is 2 layers of 3/4 plywood laminated together with a 1/4 tempered masonite cap. Then I have a 3/4"x 2-1/2" face board across the front. I built my own cabinets with 3/4 plywood sides which are plenty strong for support. Instead of taking up extra space with 2x4s, I'd cut some 3/4" plywood for extra support if you need it. I'd screw a 2x4 cleat to the wall behind the cabinet to rest the back of the counter top on.
great ideas. I'm leaning towards also doing the same and using two layers of 3/4" plywood or MDF with a 1/4" hardboard top. My local home depot sells "standard hardboard", so I'll have to check around for a tempered hardboard. My understanding is that it's coated with linseed oil and baked to create a harder surface and more resistant to liquids?

I like the idea of the 2x4 cleat. I was originally thinking I wanted the 2x4's to transfer the weight directly to the concrete floor, but the cleat will do the same thing, just through the studs to the foundation wall.

I'm going to look into the idea of installing the face and side boards 1/4" or 1/2" proud so that I can 'drop in' one or two 1/4" sheets of hardboard. If it's not going to work well, I won't bother doing it. If that's the case, what do you recommend I do at the seam between the two hardboards since it's a nearly 12' long countertop?

I'm also looking at dropping a sink into the workbench as well. This may throw a monkey wrench into my plan of having the removable hardboard surface. I guess I could always build a 2x4 proud frame around the sink, on which the sink would sit, then the hardboard would have a large square cut out in the middle where it would fit around the sink 2x4 frame.

If all of this happens, I'll be sure to post some pictures of how it turns out.

Last edited by DIYguy2000; 10-23-2012 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:45 PM   #9
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


A lot depends on what you plan to do on that bench.....if beating the bejesus out of an axle is in the equation along with liberal doses of oil and grease....I would avoid the butcher block idea.....

Your on the right track with your frame....next....a heavy dense surface is good. 2 Layers of 3/4" plywood works well.

I have 3 different types of counter tops.....

On my woodworking side....particle board and melamine



On my general hangout/misc task side....2x6's layed flat with 3/4" plywood on top of that.....and as soon as I finish the house addition, I'll be toping that with a sheet of 1/8" steel covered with 18g stainless.



And for my weekend grilling/hanging out with the guys/kids doing homework.....this....

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Old 10-23-2012, 03:00 PM   #10
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Love the hanging out with guys 'workbench'.

I guess that's a great question. What will I be doing on it? Although I do some DIY car repairs, my work is usually limited to what I can do in the driveway and I don't usually have a need to use a workbench for my automotive work. The workbench will be used for some general/misc tasks, including some sitting and drafting, but mostly for woodworking. Most of my tools are on stands of their own, so the workbench will be used for some small general woodworking tasks. I don't have an assembly/work table yet, or a laminating table, so I'll be using the workbench for this sort of work for now (for smaller pieces). I will have a vice on it, so I'll make sure that is well supported.

How do you find the melamine surface to work on? Home Depot also had a 'white hardboard', but I'd be afraid of nicks and scratches showing too quickly.
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:19 PM   #11
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


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How do you find the melamine surface to work on? Home Depot also had a 'white hardboard', but I'd be afraid of nicks and scratches showing too quickly.
Cabinet wood supply house.....there are stores that specialize in just wood or materials for making cabinets....they will have just about any stain grade plywood you want....as well as all the hardwoods....and different colors of melamine.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:23 PM   #12
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


If you are going to be doing wet or chemical things you might look into lab surface materials from a scientific supply catalog.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:43 PM   #13
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Will this be the only bench in the shop? I have a little bit of everything in mine -- plywood, butcher block and a few different thicknesses of steel. If I had one 12' long bench, I think I might go for 8' of ply/hardboard or butcher block -- and then 4' of steel. There are times when you want to pound hard on something and also times when you know there's going to be fluids spilling out. Steel is great for that kind of work.

Butcher block:



More butcher block:



Inch-thick steel:



One other thought: On this butcher block bench, there's a sheet of 1/4" neoprene where I do most of my work. It protects the wood and is also a very flat and uniform surface.



All in all, I've got ten work surfaces inside of a two-car garage. Two of them fold down from the wall when the car is out.

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Old 10-30-2012, 07:00 AM   #14
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


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Will this be the only bench in the shop? I have a little bit of everything in mine -- plywood, butcher block and a few different thicknesses of steel. If I had one 12' long bench, I think I might go for 8' of ply/hardboard or butcher block -- and then 4' of steel. There are times when you want to pound hard on something and also times when you know there's going to be fluids spilling out. Steel is great for that kind of work.
What workbench? All I see in those pictures is a beautiful car.. oh wait, there's the benches... I have to ask, is it always that clean? Very nice setup.

For now, this is the only workbench I have. I have one lower cabinet left which I'll build a top for, but it will only be a small surface for my drill press. Once I get my all my tools positioned where I want them, I'll see how much room I have left over for another work bench. I'll likely need something for assembling my woodworking projects, so it will likely be a butcher block surface.

Anyways, here's the pictures of my workbench. I ended up using 3/4" ply with 1/4" tempered hardboard on top. The edges of the bench were notched proud, so that the ply and hardboard sat inside. The ply is screwed down, while the hardboard is stuck down with double sided carpet tape in case I ever want to replace the surface.

If I were to do it again, I wouldn't do it this way. It was a pain getting all the various pieces notched perfectly so that the hardboard surface wasn't too low or too high.

I haven't put legs on it yet. As someone posted earlier the cabinets are pretty strong in themselves and I don't think I'll need to add the 2x4 legs at the front of the cabinets. I will be an easy fix if I find I need them though.

I still may have to put toe kick boards in place and possibly add supports under the lower cabinets if I'm going to be storing lots of heavy items. I was planning on doing a 2x4 boarder along the back side of the bench against the wall, but I'm debating that one right now.

The lower that only has bottom doors and no drawers will be for a possible future sink, but I'll have to re-think the surface to prevent water damage.

Here are some pics of how it looks:
Attached Thumbnails
12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8480_sm.jpg   12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8479_sm.jpg   12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8478_sm.jpg   12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8477_sm.jpg   12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8476_sm.jpg  

12' garage work bench surface ideas?-img_8474_sm.jpg  

Last edited by DIYguy2000; 10-30-2012 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:14 AM   #15
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12' garage work bench surface ideas?


Would that be a 1970 911S model?

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