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OK, so I've been planning my workbench forever. I had an old hardwood office door stashed away for the top of it in a buddy's shed. I finally got the frame built, went over to get the door and it is hasta la vista!

What other ideas are there for a cheap top for the bench (It's 43" x 22")?
 

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It depends on how you expect to use the workbench.

For detailed work, like small appliance or electronics repair, 7/16" OSB with white paneling glued on top works well for me.

My workbench for general woodworking is a 2x frame with a 7/16" OSB top. It's not a coincidence that it the same height as tops of my table saw and miter saw.

For beating the crap out of stuff with a sledge hammer, etc., the 1 1/8" ply Neal mentioned, or stacking 2x3s to make a butcher block top would work well. My table for that kind of work, is a large cable spool that was free for the taking. I also have steel H-pile section and a couple of pieces of rail steel as anvils, and a bench vice bolted onto it.
 

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I use 2 layers of 3/4 OSB.
Bottom layer permanently affixed with top layer attached but removable for replacement after heavy abuse.

On the strength of the frame they hold substantial weight if needed.
 

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"Cheap" is relative. I chose to use 2 layers of 3/4" ply glued together on one bench (4'x9'0, and a 10'x25"x1.25" piece of Baltic Birch butcher block for my cabinet topper on the back wall of the shop/garage.
 
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"Cheap" is relative. I chose to use 2 layers of 3/4" ply glued together on one bench (4'x9'0, and a 10'x25"x1.25" piece of Baltic Birch butcher block for my cabinet topper on the back wall of the shop/garage.

Usage is the best qualifier for the type of bench top. (y)
 

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Mine has a section of the laminate countertop I removed from our kitchen.
 

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My only problem with the Baltic Birch butcher block is that it looks so darn nice that I don't want to scratch it up. I must get over that, though!

The length of the top was two feet short of what I really needed, but I was able to use a short piece of granite from our kitchen remodel to finish it off, and the granite portion is my dedicated "sharpening station".
 
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I used 3/4 OSB and had a friend bend me a piece of 24 gauge sheet metal, 2" overhang on the front and back to screw the metal down. Clean and vac the OSB and then poured a slather of contact adhesive and it is still good 30 years later.
 

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Workbench tops likely depend on the style people want, kind of bench work you expect to do, budget, new or recycling materials, pre finished, replaceable, ... static or mobile.

A permanent rough outdoor workbench can just be pallet wood slats or pt decking. For a long while I had a 16 ft tresle style bench that had 2x 16ft 2x12. I was able to get some fire resistant doors one time, which I was going to use for indoor garage worktops, but they were too heavy to handle, let alone consider for simple mobile benches, so I gave them away. My outdoor painting and miscellaneous use smooth worktop is a varnished hollow core door. Anyway ...

For something small and smooth, utilitarian, maybe a half sheet of MDF?
 

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Wait a couple of months for China's real estate apocalypse, and everything may be cheaper. Sooner or later, the ghost city Ponzi scheme will collapse.

I am planning to make a new workbench. Steel tubing frame with holes around the top of the perimeter for screws. Buy 2x8 lumber, joint the edges, use clamps to force them against each other, and run fat hex-head screws up from under the frame. I could glue them edge-to-edge, but I think there is no point. If they're not glued, I can replace any board that gets messed up.

Maybe Danish oil to make the top a little more resistant to filth.

I got inspired by a shooting bench I made. Will attach a photo. I should have used lighter tubing. Overbuilding is a pitfall that traps a lot of us.

Wood is not a great material for the foundation of a bench, and metal is not great for the top. If you can work with both, you get a better result.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Table Plant
 

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My workshop originally had an entire L-shaped Corian countertop which was salvaged from somewhere. It wasn't right for me, so I ripped it out, but it would have been pretty good for the average guy who doesn't ask a lot from his bench.
 

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Maybe couple of bundles of 1x5 furring strips. Pick out the flat/straight pieces and return the rest. Homedepot, so keep the receipt and return next day.:) It is somewhat of a trouble to take but I got fair number of good strips from several bundles, though not for furniture grade work. Building rolling shelves in bsmt for tools and house junk. Could be cheaper than even paint grade 3/4 plywood and 1x5 is solid so no ply splinters and sandable. Resaw the edges for relatively flat top and put them together on as many frames as you want. Not really for pounding on or heavy duty vices and such.
 

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Maybe couple of bundles of 1x5 furring strips.
Furring strips are a good idea, but 1x5? I can envision stacking a bunch of 1x2s on edge, drilled for threaded rods, and pulled together into butcher block style top. I didn't know there was such a thing as a 1x5, in furring strips or otherwise.
 
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