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Custom Workbench
The Ingredients...
The Process...
I only just kicked off this project at about the same time as the creation of this site. I haven't had a good place for an actual bench until recently. I've gathered a bunch of odds and ends of different woods, as well as some large plywood and thick MDF sheets. I think I'll be going with a torsion box design so that I don't need a super thick benchtop. I can reinforce an area that I anticipate doing the most hammering on by filling the torsion box(es) under that spot with hardwood rather than leaving it hollow. My biggest problem now is while I used to not give much thought to the look of my bench and was fine with the idea of the top being made of MDF/plywood. But after my friend got involved in the build (I figured since it's the center-piece of my whole workshop and every future project will be built on it, that I would make sure to do it right), he showed me some unbelievable kinds of wood that are just absolutely beautiful. There's probably a half dozen or so kinds that I would love to have on my bench. But the one that I can't get out of my head is called "Purpleheart". It's natural look is unlike anything I've ever seen. I can't shake the thought of a purpleheart benchtop with just a heavy clear seal on it - probably just a ton of clear epoxy. That way it's very hard but still shows just the natural beauty of that wood underneath, plus with a thick coat of epoxy, should I ding the surface, I can just fill it back in with epoxy rather than hate myself for dinging the actual wood. Buuut… Purpleheart is super expensive. Like, more than all of my projecys combined expensive. So, short of some kind of miracle, I just can't see this dream becoming a reality. With most - if not all - of my projects, I've been able to find an alternate means of getting the material I needed in order to make it work. But I can't imagine any miraculous source of this exquisite wood falling into my lap. I live in Phoenix, AZ, trees in general are a rarity. Let alone such unique trees. So I'll probably need to let it go. Regardless of the finish though, I can still get the framework and features sorted out. I plan to use a 60"x30" torsion box benchtop. That particular size because it should give me a decent sized work surface  while still giving me room to add my other space-hog components like lathe/mill, welding table, etc. And in an effort to save space, I plan to have a tapered cutout (likely towards the center)of the benchtop where I can drop in a circular saw/jigsaw/router bolted to a thick piece of plexiglass (that I already have) or a vaccum forming table so that it sits flush with the tabletop for most efficient use of the tool and the space.