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Plywood Workbench: Episode 1

Plywood Workbench Episode 1 WWMC 2 Keyframe

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Paul takes you through the first stages of cutting the plywood to create sizes that are easier to manage. He then rips through the panels using the bandsaw and planes the edges. He repeats this method until he has done all of the panels. Lastly, Paul moves on to gluing up and screwing his workbench top.

112 Comments

  1. YrHenSaer on 8 February 2019 at 11:12 am

    That’s an interesting layout.
    Planing the edges of plywood is never my (or my plane’s for that matter!) favourite operation. Lots of hard adhesive to contend with.

    Cut edges of Normal B/BB grade Birch ply usually also contains allowable small gaps gaps in the middle (unless you pay premium/extra for best quality, which can be hard to find in small batches commercially).

    Assuming the band saw’s throat will allow the board width, is there any reason why you preferred an assembly of cut edges uppermost on the work surface over cutting and gluing four wide pieces?
    This way the face-sides of the boards are uppermost, and the acreage of board is probably the same?

    I guess that you are governed by UK prices, how does the cubic timber cost compare to an equal amount of Ply board?

    Interesting project, though.

    • Simon Richardson on 8 February 2019 at 12:22 pm

      I agree about the planing plywood edges,plus plywood edges will suffer a lot of tearout (more fall out !) and are very abrasive !

      • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 5:49 pm

        Actually, that’s not at all true regarding tearout/fallout. It was about what I would expect from wood really but a tad more brittle. I didn’t find the adhesive as hard as the knots I find in oak nor the much harder pine or spruce knots (or any other knots either). Stroke for stroke it came out about the same as my previously made pine and spruce benches I believe. Not troublesome at all, Simon.

    • Jim Thornton on 8 February 2019 at 3:22 pm

      That could certainly be done as long as it came out perfectly level. If it’s out, even a slight amount, then planing to get it flat is probably going to go through the first layer.

      • allaninoz on 8 February 2019 at 10:11 pm

        But it is edge on – plane away

        • allaninoz on 8 February 2019 at 10:15 pm

          Just worked out you were replying to someone else about stacking the top – very sorry 😁

    • Sven-Olof Jansson on 8 February 2019 at 4:51 pm

      Actually, and if the information I’ve received is correct, you would pay less for 2 meters of 2 x 253 mm wide, 90 mm thick glulam; than for the corresponding 18 mm baltic birch plywood. There should also be the additional advantage of the glulam needing little if any flattening — to say nothing of the need for a bandsaw.

      Using knot-free (not planed all around) beech for a bench of similar dimension, including material for the legs, the most expensive alternative I found would be around £220 – £250. Assuming the absence of a bandsaw, planer, and thicknesser; splitting, but no re-sawing would be required. As would at lot of stock preparation, which is a bit problematic without a work bench.

      /Sven-Olof

      • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 5:58 pm

        I do believe you missed the whole point of this, Sven. It had nothing at all to do with cost or using solid beech. Ease or anything like these things. Also, solid beech is only available in certain regions. This is just an alternative. We have other videos and blogs on making solid wood workbenches too. It’s as I said, about equipping people with an alternative and bridging the gap. One bandsaw or handsaw even. and three sheets of plywood and three days labour and a bench comes to life. There really is only minimal stock prep this way which would really help people new to woodworking and you could use a £300 bandsaw that would last for years for more work too.

        • Sven-Olof Jansson on 8 February 2019 at 6:31 pm

          Actually Paul, I don’t think I miss your point: attract more people to WWMC or your other network based enterprises by offering a less laborious way of making that completely essential workbench. You on the other hand seem to miss mine, which is the very simple notion that of three alternatives above, the use of glulam appears to be the most attractive from point of cost, time, space, and resources.

          Your concern over the regional variations in the availability of high quality hardwood I welcome. Hopefully, it will be reflected in future projects.

          Kindest regards
          Sven-Olof

          • Ed on 8 February 2019 at 6:48 pm

            Sven-Olof- I’ve always wondered if a monolithic slab would demonstrate more cupping and twisting vs. a benchtop made by laminating solid wood. I suspect it might, especially if the large monolithic slab is obtained by plain sawing the bole, but never looked it up. I realize your point is about cost, but it raised this old question in my mind. Maybe Paul can comment?



          • Sven-Olof Jansson on 8 February 2019 at 6:57 pm

            Ed, the glulam I’ve come across has not been monolithic but of glued together shorter units (i.e. joined and scarved). According to what my timber yard (always been trustworthy) tells me, glulam of 8″ length won’t flex, is stable, and quite flat. My main concern is that consistency of grain direction can’t be expected. However, that has not hampered work with thinner oak versions.
            /Sven-Olof



          • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 7:35 pm

            The assumption of course is that all the audience has access to gluelam beams too.



          • Cindy Thomas on 8 February 2019 at 7:49 pm

            I also have considered Glulam, and construction grade Douglas Fir, but I am intrigued by this project now that I am seeing it taking shape. The Doug Fir would be cheaper than birch plywood but would be problematic in that it would come with knots, cups, bows, twists, and would be wet.



      • Joseph Kesselman on 11 February 2019 at 1:04 pm

        One of the woodworking magazines did do a gluelam workbench build, some years ago (before 2010, I think), as an experiment. They considered it a mixed success, if I remember correctly; a somewhat annoying material to work with, at least in that generation of materials. (Adhesives and manufacturing may have changed since then.) If I find the reference I’ll post it.

        • Sven-Olof Jansson on 11 February 2019 at 8:34 pm

          From online comments I wonder if it could have been the Fine Woodworking Magazine?Allegedly, the reviewers were dissatisfied with the flatness of the material.

          Thanks
          /Sven-Olof

        • Andy McKenzie on 4 March 2019 at 7:16 pm

          You may be thinking of the “LVL Workbench”, from Popular Woodworking, which Google tells me is from the November 2009 issue.

          According to their report a couple years later the top had stayed flat and stable, but they had some problems with the leg vise because the material compressed a lot.

          • Sven-Olof Jansson on 4 March 2019 at 8:05 pm

            Thanks Andy,

            Yes, I was erroneously referring to this article, which was mentioned in a blog I read as glulam and Fine Woodworking.

            So, now it will be up to which has the flatter face (not edge), glulam or lvl, for a quickly made workbench to make one in beech.

            /Sven-Olof



    • Jamie Morin on 9 February 2019 at 12:30 pm

      A Joyner. Think of gluing the pieces on edge, as a header in a door or window frame. Will be much more difficult for deflection, or to incorporate twist into the eventual top, than face gluing. If you have a very, very flat base that is true and has no twist, then you could absolutely glue the top that way. However, if after the top has dried, you do have some twist, to flatten the top, would require either planing, or sanding, potentially exposing the inner core of the plywood, thus potentially ruining the look of your bench top. On edge, would be very difficult to have deflection, thus making trying and flattening much easier. Hope i explained that well. Good luck with your build.

  2. Brian Reedy on 8 February 2019 at 12:20 pm

    That’s a really nice looking benchtop, different from solid wood, but good and solid nonetheless. It’s a pleasure and a comfort to watch you work and listen to you talk about it.

  3. drdee1280 on 8 February 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Agree with comment above. Doesn’t make sense to cut laminate material into 3” strips, especially if aircraft birth ply is used. Just glue/assemble 4 sheets to get a 3” thick top.

    • nbcguy on 8 February 2019 at 1:09 pm

      My guess is that by doing it this way, Paul kind of mimics the look of the style he’s shown us in the past. Another guess is that by orienting the boards in this fashion the end grain portions of the boards perhaps will take a bit more abuse rather than denting, which plywood is more than happy to do.

      • Carlos M. Zaccaro on 8 February 2019 at 1:42 pm

        with your comments. Anyhow, I think (at least with the quality of plywood that I can get in my country, whic is pretty bad…) that if we dont put some king of hard laminate (melamine perhaps) on top, the plywood would dent and split very quickly…
        regards
        carlos

      • YrHenSaer on 8 February 2019 at 2:41 pm

        Apparently, end-grain-up is easier for direct chopping.

        Now, I agree with that – hence generations of butchers’ blocks – however, being old-school (very and literally) chopping and sawing into your bench was severely frowned upon!
        That’s what bench hooks and bits of scrap wood were for.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 6:01 pm

      I assume you mean flat face to flat face. If so, you destroyed the effective strengths from edge grain facing uppermost and the intrinsic rigidity you gain. Unless you’ve done it, seen it, felt it, you won’t understand it, I suppose. face ply wood be much more fragile for longterm use.

    • Tom Hanson on 8 February 2019 at 9:50 pm

      And when you need to resurface your bench in future and break through the first layer in places it will look ugly and the grain running across instead of length ways

    • Martin Rugroden on 13 February 2019 at 7:38 pm

      What I picked up as the reason for using plywood is the minimal joinery. Much easier for a beginner.

  4. leila boujemaa on 8 February 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Merci.

  5. leila boujemaa on 8 February 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Merci.

  6. Lee Manson on 8 February 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Paul just to say I think plywood bench is a really good project to do. And I look very nice bench. What sort of plywood did u used for your bench?

  7. michael on 8 February 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Don’t like the sped up motion picture sorry it can make dizzy and hard to comprehend details, I rather prefer cut sections of actual speed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Flemming Aaberg on 9 February 2019 at 9:38 am

      At one stage Paul mentions ‘catching my breath’ so I suspect during the sped up segments he wasn’t saying anything – just trying to breathe.

  8. Carlos M. Zaccaro on 8 February 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Interesting, very interesting, but a bit too late… I´m already making my own with “real” wood (reclaimed of course) as per your previous videos!!! Jajajaja!!!.
    When laminating the strips of plywood I´d suggest to clamp two strips of something (wood or steel) on both ends (perpendicular to the strips) after glueing the first 2 ones. This way you´ll have a registration edge to cope with possible twist while screwing…
    And I agree with everybody: planing plywood is a real pain in the ass!!!
    regards
    carlos

  9. tim ziegler on 8 February 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Paul

    You are the best! You keep inventing new ways to look at and do wood working. Thank you.
    You are inspiring!

    Best wishes

    Tim

  10. Chris Stasny on 8 February 2019 at 3:35 pm

    In the U.S., most of our ply comes from China and is full of voids. There is one lumber store here that sells domestic ply at $90 per sheet that still contains a few voids. Baltic birch is out because the sheets are only 5’ long. So how are you handling the voids? [‘void’ is a term we use here for gaps in interior sections of ply. I don’t know if the term is the same across the pond.]

    • deanbecker on 8 February 2019 at 4:30 pm

      Chris
      If you go to a real wood distribuator they well have birch ply in both 5 ft sizes and 8 ft sizes. McBeth hardwoods is one that comes to mind close to me woodworkers sourse also does handle it

      • Amber Holden on 22 February 2019 at 4:14 pm

        Yes, in the US you should be able to find a source for Appleply, or PureBond or imported Baltic Birch high quality plywood’s not far from the beaten path. There are voids, but few and far between in the higher grades and Paul’s suggestion to fill with epoxy is perfect. I hadn’t thought of that previously.
        I find planing the edge of these plywood’s satisfying. And plane blades as well as chisels are easily sharpened. Where I struggle to work with plywood is when breaking it down by hand as it is very hard on my nice handsaws and while hand saw sharpening is an important skill, it’s time intensive and requires higher skill than flat blades. As a handtool worker, I find myself considering a tracksaw and/or a bandsaw and I’m not sure if I have the space or budget to add both. I’m leaning towards a tracksaw. Curious what opinions are on that choice (I have

        • Jim Thornton on 23 February 2019 at 3:56 am

          My personal opinion is that this plywood workbench may not be the best choice for a hand tool woodworker. I would think that one of Paul’s earlier solid wood workbenches might be a better choice. As has been already discussed, I think this bench is aimed more at folks, who have some equipment to work with, who want a nice bench with which to start learning hand tool woodworking.

          I may build this workbench to have an extra bench, but I’m fortunate to have several sheets of nice 3/4″ plywood on hand and a really nice Delta Unisaw to cut the parts out.

          Again……….to repeat myself………..this is just my opinion.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 4:35 pm

      I would just mix up epoxy and pour in the voids when laminations are completed.That will deal with it.

  11. woodpa1 on 8 February 2019 at 4:26 pm

    The only issue I would have would be trying to make a bench dog opening without hitting a screw. Because, you know you will.

    • Jim Thornton on 8 February 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Not if you know where the screws are. Paul addresses this in the video.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 6:05 pm

      I don’t like or use dogs but just leave the screws out and just glue up. No probs there.

  12. Steve Dawson on 8 February 2019 at 4:33 pm

    My bench will be a hybrid. I had some B/BB ply available in my workshop so am using that for the wellboard and aprons. Everything else is softwood.

    I have a table saw but not a band saw, so that’s what I’d use.

    In the UK a 2440 x 1220 mm (8′ x 4′) sheet of void/gap-free Baltic Birch B/BB grade 18mm (¾”) costs me £54 ($70 US)

  13. werdy64 on 8 February 2019 at 5:34 pm

    What about the final weigth of the plywood workbench?

  14. David B on 8 February 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Is there a “Poor Man’s Bandsaw” workaround? I can’t imagine a Harbor Freight bandsaw is worth it’s cost (or floor space) and a $2K one like Paul has seems anathema to the original allure of WWMC. I’m happy to see more people get into woodworking and I don’t mean to come off as snarky but I don’t (yet) see how this really brings more people along for the ride unless you intend to regularly feature the bandsaw (along with dust filtration system and ear protection, full face mask…) Will this plywood workbench use any hand tools other than the hand plane on edge-plywood?

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 6:08 pm

      Aha, I knew someone would say this so I bought an inexpensive one too. I actually use a £270 bandsaw much of the time and on a regular basis. It will make fifty of these benches easily and go on for another ten to twenty years too. Also, we did do the math and asked our audience how many of them had access to a bandsaw and a massive percentage of our hand tool audience, not machinist woodworkers as such, already owned one.

      • Roger on 8 February 2019 at 7:07 pm

        why a bandsaw instead of a tablesaw? Is it the kerf?

        • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 7:41 pm

          The tablesaw is much more dangerous, kickback, takes up a bigger footprint over all, can’t make curved and straight cuts, takes three times the material out in each kerf cut. I could give you a dozen more reasons not the least of which is it doesn’t lend itself to dust extraction as well as the bandsaw either.

          • jcat on 9 February 2019 at 8:17 pm

            Having just taken out five stitches from my middle finger thanks to a contractors table saw kickback (AKA low flying piece of wood), I’m with Paul! Bandsaw, Bandsaw, Bandsaw! I wish I had the budget then I could give the table saw the middle finger! Grrrrrrrr 🙁
            Cheers



      • David B on 8 February 2019 at 8:59 pm

        This is good to know. I purchased a Craftsman bandsaw several years ago (I wanted a bandsaw but didn’t have floorspace or large budget). I’ve had issues with it–setting/tensioning it properly and wearing out blades faster than seems reasonable mostly. My assumption (quite possibly false) thus has been that the cheaper/lower-end/sub $300 bandsaws are not that durable/reliable for heavier workloads and also don’t have much clearance for cutting thicker stock.

        • ehisey on 15 February 2019 at 10:50 pm

          270 pd bandsaw is closer to $350-$400 bandsaw US. this is about were get in to Dewalt and Grizzly brand bandsaws.

    • nbcguy on 8 February 2019 at 8:50 pm

      Not trying to ruffle anyone’s feathers but the HF bandsaw ain’t too bad. It’s based off the same 14” Delta that’s been around forever. You might have to fiddle with it, but you can spend hours fiddling with even the most expensive band saws if you’re the anal retentive sort, like me 🙂

  15. Thomas Bittner on 8 February 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Funny I was thinking of building a plywood bench before I heard Paul was going to do it. I priced out Baltic Birch here in the states at $140 a sheet and then I priced out various hardwoods Ash being the least expensive at $5 a board foot for 8/4 The plywood runs about 40% less expensive especially when you consider the waste from solid wood. The other advantage is the plywood will be much more stable because of the alternating grain and super strong with the orientation the way Paul has it. Because I have a table saw I’m going to saw grooves down the center of the table strips and use splines to keep the top from moving when I glue up and so when I bore holes for dogs I don’t have to worry about the screws. The other thing I want to do is make the top 4” thick, overkill perhaps but stronger and heavier like the Roubo benches you see. I am a power tool user moving more into hand tools for a variety of reasons. But I am not shy about using “non traditional” methods where it might give you an advantage.

    • nbcguy on 8 February 2019 at 8:55 pm

      Another idea would be to make a template and drill say, (5) 3/4” holes in each strip and stack the strips using 3/4” dowels as guides. Those laminations would never even think about coming apart.

  16. Roger on 8 February 2019 at 7:09 pm

    why a bandsaw instead of a table saw? kerf?

    • Thomas Bittner on 8 February 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Roger
      A kerf is what you produce when you cut with a saw, in other words the groove or empty space you see when your saw passes through a board would be called the kerf.
      A table saw will leave a straight and parellel edge when you set it against a fence….if it’s set up properly. Normally much straighter and square than what you would get with a bandsaw. By sawing a groove down the face of a plywood strip in the same place on each board you can make a wood spline that fits into the grooves you’ve made to register one board to another. That way when you load it all up with glue it won’t slide around and you won’t lose the position of what your gluing together, even when you clamp it together. Kind of neat when accuracy of the edges is important

    • Bas Cost Budde on 8 February 2019 at 8:52 pm

      Kerf is wider of course, you’d lose some 3mm on a table saw as opposed to around 1mm with a bandsaw.
      Other than that my humble insight would be that the project can be done perfectly well with a tablesaw. (now I’m confused: is it band saw and tablesaw?)

  17. Thomas Angle on 8 February 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for the video. I do look forward to seeing the rest of the series.

  18. milton skinner on 8 February 2019 at 7:39 pm

    This is an interesting project, and I can see the possible advantage for other projects as well! Thank you, Paul, for your time and effort.

  19. Cindy Thomas on 8 February 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Paul,
    Could you please address how well the laminations of plywood for the top would hold up for dog holes and the pounding of holdfasts? Thank you very much.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 9:03 pm

      It will work the same as continuous single section solid wood and possibly better than. The lamination is a strengthening quality to well made plywoods. I emphasise well-made here because, especially in the USA and some other western consumerist economies where high volumes of plywood are used in the construction industry as a whole, together with the ever-increasing demands such societies make for cheaper goods via imports from its main supplier, China, the quality has deteriorated. I lived in the USA when suppliers there reached out to overseas suppliers and the standards dramatically dropped over night almost. In the 80s and 90s Chinese plywood was half the price of US products. the writing was on the wall but it was too late. Now that’s not because good quality cannot be made in Asia but because dictated prices via big box buyer-suppliers and importers forced the hands of other economies of the world to fit their bottom line.
      I would add that dog holes in bench tops is a relatively recent phenomenon in terms of popularity with woodworkers. What was intended for the blacksmiths iron and steel anvil holes in solid cast metal has now been introduced as an industry standard in woodworking too. My research does not dismiss holdfasts used by woodworkers, but they were more few and far between. It is also true that we have developed a more prissy attitude to workbench tops. Whereas I do not think they should be in any way abused by any harsh or hard treatment, they have become to many more like a prissy piece of polished furniture rather than a place to work from and on. It’s about finding the balance.

      • Flemming Aaberg on 9 February 2019 at 1:16 am

        Prissy – yes I would agree.

      • SharpPencil on 9 February 2019 at 12:34 pm

        Great Paul your comment re “prissy” gives me an ideal lead into my question. I am quite happy with my bench but read with interest about a ply one.
        MY QUESTION:- you have said you don’t use a sticking board, I have a couple but sometimes hold stock up against a raisable bench stop with a screw in the tail end of stock. Ok my bench has holes but I am always reminded of the redundant watermill on the Blenheim Estate near you in Oxford.
        When I asked why the “old boy” had holes in his bench, I was told “oh tom is allways making holes in his bench”
        Tom liked to use moulding planes with a clear straight run.
        Regards John

  20. Bob Hutchins on 8 February 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Paul, I have purchased 4 sets of chisels at Aldi’s on your advice and really like them. I’m greasing the slope for my SIL to take up woodworking with hand tools.

    I noticed the colors in your battery powered drill are those of tools sold at Aldi’s. Is that, perchance, a WorkForce drill? If so, care to comment on it? Not looking for an endorsement or comparative rating. Merely curious. I bought a jig saw there and really like it about as much as my much more expensive jig saw.

    • nbcguy on 8 February 2019 at 8:59 pm

      He’s mentioned that ALDI drill in the past and likes it if I remember correctly.

    • David B on 8 February 2019 at 9:06 pm

      I think it’s a DeWalt drill

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 8 February 2019 at 9:16 pm

      Well, the Aldis get my vote yet again on this piece. Both their 18v and 20v work as well as any other and they carry a 3 year warranty. They cost a quarter or even a fifth of the more recognised brands and I have been using mine now for two years on the 18v and 18 months on the 20V. The batteries can be used interchangeably on both Aldi drill-drivers and charged with either charger too. Aldi offer a no questions asked instore exchange or a refund with the receipt. They are lighter in weight which is a positive and of course we do drop them occasionally. I ma perfectly happy with mine. I cannot say they feel as robust as say Dewalt or Bosch, Makita, but in these I have found issues with batteries that last less than an acceptable period and in two cases had to discard the drills within two years. Currently I am running two Aldis alongside my Dewalt which I also like well enough.
      The Aldi chisels I am using are the ones with the wooden handles that don’t look fancy but they do fit my hand well and they are well balanced German design. The ones I am using and have had and used for over ten years to date are the best chisels and are as good as any chisels I have ever used bar none. Other woodworkers, especially professionals, hate me to say that. I am not sure if there is a UK maker to match them. So far, as far as I have seen, the UK makers really fall short as far as properly finishing off their products goes. And the standard between one chisel and another in the same box varies far too much for me. The Aldis are not fancy but they are unpretentious. No flag flying. I do wish I could say differently and one day, if quality does improve, I will be glad to brag on it.

  21. JOHN CAULFIELD on 8 February 2019 at 10:38 pm

    I’m thinking a hybrid of both benches. A pine 2×4 top and aprons, with the plywood leg frame. Mulling this over right now.

  22. David Dailey on 9 February 2019 at 1:22 am

    Paul I recently finished your workbench and it was so satisfying using my hands and hand tools to complete the project. I used the occasional power tool where it made sense to speed up the project but it was so enjoyable. I look forward to this build and plan on following along, I immediately decided that I would apply the laminating of the plywood to construct an assembly table which is my next undertaking. Best. David Dailey.

  23. mxbroome1 on 9 February 2019 at 1:59 am

    This reminds me of a question I’ve wanted to ask. Do you ever use the ‘salt in the glue’ trick to keep laminations from sliding during glue up. I’ve seen different people recommend it but I have not tried it yet.

  24. Tony Rubertino on 9 February 2019 at 5:28 am

    I have seen Aldis mentioned several times as a source of tools, but I guess the Aldis that I find here in the U.S. are not the same. I don’t have any locations close to me here in Sacramento, Ca, but I did check several stores that I found in Ohio and they were simply no-frills grocery stores with no tools to be found. Are the Aldis in U.K. more like a hardware/tool store and are they related to the Aldi’s that I find here in the U.S. ?

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2019 at 8:56 am

      They do have a homeowner DIY section running down two or three aisles. I know you can get them in some US Aldi stores.

      • wrstew on 10 February 2019 at 6:39 pm

        With Aldi it’s a seasonal stocking issue. Space is at a premium, the tools at our local store are catch as they appear or wait for next year. If you’re looking for specific items there’s a weekly flyer in the store or you can get it online and see what is coming.

  25. ted clawton on 9 February 2019 at 5:36 am

    Paul,

    How long can PVA glue stay out in a tray like that before it becomes unworkable?

    Thanks

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2019 at 8:54 am

      A few hours. If longer cover both tray and layer with shrink wrap/cling film for overnight non use. You can wash out the roller too.

  26. Ghal on 9 February 2019 at 5:51 am

    I completed my workbench build a few months ago, based on Paul’s prior series, but I will be watching this as I’m fascinated by alternative building methods and materials.

    This is a good project, and well targeted at those that are power-tool focused, or just getting started woodworking, and want to get a bench together well prior to collecting many hand tools. This is the kind if bench I probably would have built a year or two ago, before I took the plunge into hand tool work. I suspect there are many out there who will find it appealing.

    It may have been worth discussing the various qualities of plywood at the beginning. I recognized this as good quality Baltic birch, but given the abundance of poor quality plywood out there (most American home centers don’t even carry material this good), perhaps emphasizing seeking out the quality might have been a good starting point.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2019 at 8:51 am

      I think, from the comments, most people are recognising the differences in plywoods. It seems to be a USA problem because of its high demand for low-cost goods which almost always puts the domestic made quality guys out of business ultimately. I did talk about finding plywood that matched the effort too.

      • Flemming Aaberg on 9 February 2019 at 9:51 am

        Same issue in Australia Paul

      • Ghal on 10 February 2019 at 3:35 am

        I can only speak to the US plywoods as that’s where I reside, but it is definitely an issue. The big box home centers in my area sell birch plywood, but it is just a hair above construction grade, with a sanded, paper-thin birch veneer over it. I have to go to a hardwoods distributor to find good quality plywood. There are several outlets around, but it takes some awareness. At any rate, just a thought given the abundance of low-grade materials here. Really looking forward to the rest of the series.

        I also enjoyed the new approach to the production, especially the opening, taking the camera out of the workshop and following through getting the materials. Really fun new element to the format.

        • Joseph Kesselman on 10 February 2019 at 4:07 am

          My local home center does have hardwood plywoods which approach furniture-grade — more plys, fewer voids — in 4’x8′ sheets. Of course they cost more than construction-grade stuff.

          I’m wondering whether one could get away with The Cheap Stuff on the frame and save The Good Stuff for the top, as a price/performance compromise.

      • CHRISTOPHER CALANDRELLA on 14 February 2019 at 7:26 pm

        I’ve been wanting to make a second bench so I can give my kids my present bench. I’m going this route. Like other here, I have difficulty finding birch and can barely afford it anyway. I’m gonna get the best I can afford and use epoxy as needed. No big deal. Thanks for this and all other videos.

  27. Larry Williams on 9 February 2019 at 5:55 am

    Love your work, ideas, and process. I always learn new things watching you work. I feel like I’m sitting in your shop listening to you chit-chat away as you masterfully craft a new project. You’re a great mentor and I find it a true privilege to spend time with you.
    larry

  28. Benoît Van Noten on 9 February 2019 at 10:17 am

    – The screws are used to serve as clamps not for structural reasons.
    I have seen this trick used on other blogs where they would glue two strips of wood, screw them together for clamping; remove the screw when the glue is dry (enough) and repeat with the next strip of wood. Of course this means additional delays.
    This is a solution for those who would want to be able to make holes without screws constraint.

    – If one wants to make an 8′ foot long bench-top with 5′ plywood sheets, one can make one strip with 3′ + 5′ and the next strip with 5′ +3′, alternating where the butt joint is in such a way that one never have two consecutive butt joint at the same place. Don’t throw away the 2′ pieces, adding 4 of them will also make 8′ .
    I have done this with my solid wood workbench top because I used recycled timber.
    Now how to get the 8′ apron from 5′ plywood sheet, I am not sure, although the aprons seems to be done with two plywood layers also, so the same strategy might work.
    – For workshop space reasons, my workbench is “only” 1.5 m long (about 6′), which has been good enough until now.

  29. dadruf on 9 February 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Hello Paul,
    I was wondering if you would ever concider nailing the slats together versus screwing?
    I would be using a air gun instead of hand nailing.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2019 at 2:52 pm

      It’s not a problem nailing, just you do not get the compression value of screws which works as clamps. Also, I am guessing the people suggesting air-nailers are mainly Americans. It’s no small thing for the rest of the world to have dedicated power equipment like compressors and air nailers. We should remember that.

  30. Ken Dalgleish on 9 February 2019 at 1:31 pm

    For those who don’t have a bandsaw and maybe don’t have the space to commit to one, a worthy alternative for this kind of thing is the track saw.

    The track saw is a lot less versatile, not necessarily any cheaper, and is of only limited use on solid timber but for sheet goods it’s arguably better than a band saw and can be tucked in a cupboard when not needed.

    It’s also the kind of thing you may be able to borrow or rent for a project such as this. For repetitive cuts , like the strips for the top, it’s very easy to knock up a crude fence that makes exact size repeats easy.

    I hope I don’t confuse anyone, just wanted to point out another option for accessing this kind of project.

    • Joseph Kesselman on 10 February 2019 at 4:12 am

      A circ saw with a guide can do cut-offs nearly as well as a dedicated track saw, especially if you pay a few bucks for a higher-quality blade. It can be improved further with a zero-clearance plate, but that blocks the safety guard so it’s more debatable.

  31. Bob Blarney on 9 February 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Hello, I have a few comments

    1. An alternative to driving so many screws would be to use a pneumatic nailer.
    2. Since I have two Workmates, I might make only the laminated top with a cleat that will span and be clamped by the two Workmates. By the way, a panel or removable toolbox fitted into the base of the Workmate can help stabilize it. And a shelf can be installed on the horizontal crossbraces.
    3. Titebond III glue has a longer open time, which might be advantageous for some procedures, but Titebond II will certain do.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2019 at 2:49 pm

      You don’t need air nailers. It just adds more non necessities to the simplicity. Not everyone has an air compressor lying around, nor a nail gun or two or three. Let’s keep it down.

    • Benoît Van Noten on 10 February 2019 at 9:33 am

      A bench-top on workmate is better than nothing (I used it while making the legs of my workbench) but…
      – it is a bit low for joinery work;
      – the workmate spreading feet might be an annoyance;
      – it will not have the torsional rigidity provided by the front apron being glued to the bench-top;
      On the plus side: easy to knock down; but this is only interesting if you have to knock it down after each working session. Having to install and uninstall the shelf each time would not be fun. Once you have attached a vise to the bench-top, it will be quite heavy.
      -See Paul’s response to dadruf above.

  32. Connie Drum jr on 9 February 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Good idea Paul.

  33. Robert Foster on 11 February 2019 at 3:22 am

    So another question then about plywood.
    Here in California, what I find available from Home Depot is a 6 ply “Premium” plywood in Oak, Maple, and Birch. I can travel farther afield to a Woodcraft store for Baltic Birch, but I don’t know if 4×8 sheets are available.
    So setting aside construction grade plywood, what are the minimums that I should look for that I can expect to have success with? No voids I assume, but what about numbers of plys, or adhesives, or wood used for interior plys?
    Thanks for any and all info.
    Rob

    • sailforfun15 on 11 February 2019 at 4:22 am

      See if you can find ApplePly near year. It looks like 4×8 sheets of high quality ply, similar to high quality Baltic Birch. Of course, CA may ban it for containing something known to the state of CA to cause cancer 😉 Here in Texas, the state is perfectly OK with that ;-).

      https://www.statesind.com/product/appleply

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 11 February 2019 at 8:42 am

      Interior grade plywood is fine. It won’t delaminate unless under very extreme conditions of high humidity and wet. Because oak is ring porous it tends to have uneven density across it’s growth rings which in plywood translates into coarse and fine alongside one another. Oak plywood is therefor inconsistent in hardness and density and when laminated as for the use we have there is a tendency for the laminations to separate in the wood and not the lamination via glued surfaces. Maple and birch are both diffuse porous so are consistent in density and hardness across the whole of the growth rings. The wider the laminations, as with six ply instead of 13 or more is the increased propensity for the thicker plies to expand and contract according to humidity and then to the sponginess is increased too. The best grade plywoods with the greater stability are the thinnest ply layers.

  34. James McGuire on 11 February 2019 at 2:21 pm

    I built a bench just like that a few years ago, and am planning on building another this spring for My new shop. and leave the other in my porch for winter projects.
    I get the reason for the bandsaw, but is there a reason a bandsaw would be chosen over a table saw with a plywood blade if one was available?

    • Jim Thornton on 11 February 2019 at 2:41 pm

      This question has been covered a couple of times. I own a good tablesaw, so there’s not a doubt in my mind I’d use it to cut out the materials, after breaking the sheets down with a circular saw. If I didn’t own the tablesaw, I’d certainly use my bandsaw. If I didn’t own my bandsaw, I’d use my circular saw with a straight edge. If I didn’t own a circular saw, I’d use a handsaw. If I didn’t own a hand saw, I’d go on a bicycle ride.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 11 February 2019 at 8:27 pm

      Yes, your assumption that all woodworkers have a tablesaw is universal, but mostly it’s an American thing. The rest of the world is a thousand times less likely to own a tablesaw and the bandsaw is my first recommendation over any other machine for a variety of reasons not the least of which is it is the safest. I don’t advocate anyone buys a tablesaw or any other machine for that matter. I work with people who have a penchant to develop skilled woodworking in my belief that hand tool methods top all other methods.

  35. Jeremy Smith on 11 February 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Such fussing going on. All of the boxes have now been ticked. Paul, I can’t get solid wood home from the warehouse. Use plywood. Paul, I don’t have clamps. Use screws. Paul I can’t chop mortises, cut proper tenons. Build them in, etc.

    You boys screaming about the nail guns, and I agree with Paul; they’re my fellow Americans, know good and well you’d use screws anyway.

    Come on. The man just cut plywood with a hand saw for goodness sake. Most can’t get it done with a table saw. There should be applause only and no nit picking. You have a standing ovation from Alabama Paul.

  36. Wayne Niemi on 11 February 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Paul and team!

    I haven’t worked much with plywood so please forgive me if this is a dumb question. But why not just stack plywood faces to the appropriate height for the top instead of slicing strips and laying on the sides? Seems like if you used faces you wouldn’t have to flatten and you could stack it to whatever height you need.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 11 February 2019 at 8:30 pm

      A range of reasons not the least of which is intrinsic strength and rigidity. The resilience of edge grain is far greater than face grain which being so thin on a working surface such as a workbench it would have a tendency to be more fragile.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 18 February 2019 at 8:18 am

      Hi Wayne,

      Paul says:

      Because the surface grain on plywood in such a situation would ultimately fracture within perhaps a few weeks. Edge and end grain laminated as they are, will not.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  37. H Wayne Smith on 13 February 2019 at 12:21 am

    Paul, thank you for starting the plywood work bench project! I believe I fall in the novice woodworker audience your build intends to reach and help. I work out of my garage with a limited number of tools ( both power and hand tools). A couple of years ago, while looking for some unrelated subject on YouTube, I discovered your video on restoring a hand plane. Since then I have watched your videos almost every night enjoying watching a master at his craft!! Your humble and gentle manner in which you shared unselfishly your knowledge of woodworking has inspired and challenged me to begin my journey in woodworking. Being a dentist by profession, I have spent my career attempting to restore teeth with precise and undetectable margins in filling and crowns. As I approach retirement, you now have challenged to achieve the same precision in my woodworking joinery. I’m excited to follow your lead in fabricating a plywood work bench and look forward to the subsequent videos. I had planned to build the solid material bench you had done previously, ( I had even purchased the lumber ). That project would take me weeks maybe months to complete. The plywood bench build will be faster and will allow me to have a great bench to begin some of the other projects you have posted. Once again, thank you Paul for sharing your knowledge!! Highest regards, Dr Wayne

  38. Clinton Andersen on 14 February 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I don’t own a band saw. Do you see any reason I couldn’t build this with a table saw?

  39. Gary Mercer on 16 February 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Paul, I love the fact that you have taken the time to design a bench with so much thought into your reasons why it is being built the way you are building it. With only the first installment of this series it seems there are so many critics…which doesn’t seem fair. The movie isn’t over yet! Based on your past projects, I think the end will justify your means. We have to be patient…I am sure your plan will overcome any short comings many members have tried to predict. With your world wide audience, it should be easy to understand why you just recently have introduced the use of a bandsaw, as an alternative to hand sawing. A bandsaw was my first stationary machine…purchased when I was about sixteen, and the reason I bought it was that it so versatile in what it could do safely. As with all woodworking…there are many ways of accomplishing an outcome. I have learned this from you. Thanks for going through the effort to make your bench plans in a non traditional way, that I am sure will rival a traditional bench. Now back to the movie!

  40. joystick on 17 February 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Just a quick question about the wood glue you used Paul. I think you mention that it’s PVA but it seems to have a yellow hue to it. Is it just the same as standard PVA or does this yellowish product have any other advantages over the more regular white stuff?

    I think (after lots of on-line searching) I have found a supplier of Latvian Birch Ply based in Dublin. A single sheet of 1220mm x 2440mm (4ft x 8ft) of 18mm (3/4″) will cost €64.58. As a matter of interest, the supplier can also do larger sheets of 1220 x 3060 (4ft x 10ft). The supplier confirms that it has 13 layers and is grade BB/BB. I will collect the 3 sheets required for the project myself as the quoted delivery cost is €180 for the 3 sheets! (my fuel costs for a return trip would be less than half that). I’d like to look at the sheets before I purchase in any case as sometimes the descriptions of quality are very much exaggerated here.

    As ever, thanks for all you do.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 18 February 2019 at 8:26 pm

      Titebond is an American company. In the USA they sell what is commonly referred to as yellow glue meaning it is a more rigid PVA. Wood glues in the US are identified as wood glues by the yellow colour. White PVA glues are more flexible and are used as fabric adhesives because they bend easily and conform better. I wish that we did that here as white glue can be either wood or fabric and though labeled for wood or fabric they are not so readily identifiable.

  41. Floyd Hauffe on 17 April 2019 at 4:07 pm

    I really appreciate this plywood workbench build. I think a bandsaw is a great tool to help with the heavy work, especially if, like me, heavy sawing and sharpening aggravates a case of golfer’s elbow. With that said I wonder if a circular saw and a straight edge might not be a better choice to rip the plywood. Here’s why. The most difficult thing for me is to consistently plane narrow lumber straight and square. Paul calls for planning the plywood edge after each rip. This keeps errors from accumulating. A circular saw with a straight edge will produce smooth straight square cuts. Errors don’t accumulate. Planning is by and large eliminated. There is a higher potential for layout mistakes, however these can be minimized with simple jigs.

    I understand if Paul is reluctant to employ a circular saw out of safety concerns. A circular saw is inherently more dangerous than a bandsaw. A portion of blade is out of sight during cutting, there are kickback dangers, and dust is much bigger problem. All of these can be mitigated by instruction and proper technique.

    If safety is not an insurmountable obstacle in Paul’s mind, might he add an addendum showing how a circular saw might be use instead of the bandsaw. This would add to his tradition of showing alternative ways to accomplish a task.

    Thanks Paul and team,

    Floyd

  42. Christopher Johnston on 17 October 2019 at 5:29 am

    At the beginning of the comments section ,there is a chap Sven_Olof Janson who suggests using glue lam beams . he is of course correct . You can order them in any size virtually and they are DEAD straight and FLAT ,not to mention just as ,if not more,costwise effective as sheets of baltic birch . failure to use less than baltic birch will result in voids in the plies. However ,if you do not have access to an expensive band saw his idea is spot on .

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