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How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

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Old 11-13-2008, 04:18 PM
  #1
nicov1978
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Default How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

Dear All,

As you perfectly know, the workbench on which you build your planes has to be very flat, leveled, plan...

Does someone know how to get such a perfectly flat worktable?

Indeed, most of boards you can buy in wood shops, whichever the type of wood it is and so on, it is almost impossible to find a perfectly flat one.

So I understood that I would have perhaps to build this worktable.

Does someone can tell me how to build this worktable? Where can I find plans for that?
Or perhaps there is a type of wood that allows the manufacturing of perfectly flat boards, which do not get curve or something else in time?

I'm waiting for your ideas please!

Thanks a lot,

Nicolas
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Old 11-13-2008, 04:28 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

You might want to build a torsion box assembly table. There are adjusters to keep it flat.
Here is one link:
http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/ww_mat...278181,00.html
You can search for 'torsion box' at http://www.google.com or other search engine for more info.
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Old 11-13-2008, 04:33 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

What most of us use is a hollow-core door placed on top of some type of base structure.

If you check your local Home Improvement store, you'll find that they often have doors with a defect (Maybe it has a hole in one side) that they will sell cheap.

This can be placed on top of an existing table, or across a set of saw horses. Or you can build a frame like this one
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Old 11-13-2008, 04:56 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

MinnFlyer's suggestion is a very good and not an expensive choice. Generally $25 or so at Home Depot or Lowe's. I recently replaced our kitchen countertops and saved two formica covered pieces(one about 15" X 96" for a wing or fuse sides and one 26" X 48"). Both are still perfectly flat. Saving them for the next project. I and others have used tiles for drop down(hanging) ceilings on top of the solid surface. These make using your pins easier.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:23 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I have a frame similar to MinnFlyer's illustration. On top I have two lengths of aluminum "L" channel. To that, I have securely attached a sheet of 1/2" A-C plywood. Then I laid a trammel, another piece of aluminum channel diagonally corner to corner, then down the length of the wood to confirm flat. It came out dead on the first time around ( you have to be lucky once in a while). Oh, yeah, on the bottom of each leg I installed a large lag bolt to level out the table (my basement floor is not the most even surface in the world). When I was satisfied with everything being as flat and level as I could make it, I laid a sheet of Homosote on top of the plywood to accept pins and such and fastened it down with screws along the edges. The surface has maintained its flatness for a lot of years now and, if it should somehow get bent out of shape, a few turns of the lag bolts will bring it back into shape.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:35 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I built a base something similar to what Minnflyer is showing. Used a hollow core door for the top. Used threaded inserts in the legs and screwed in locking rubber castor wheels. Put a shelf on the bottom for storing a kit box or arf box while I'm working on it, extra balsa, ply etc. The castor wheels were the most expensive part but well worth it. It is handy to be able to move the table around easily and the wheels are adjustable so leveling is a breeze.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:50 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I like hollow core doors also. When I buy one I always go "borrrow" a 6' level from the tool dept to check the surface of the door for flatness, I have found many doors that are bowed in the center, or cupped. I would like to build a new work bench so I am looking for more ideas also. I saw some pics of someone using 2" pink board to pin to, I liked the looks of it.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:48 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I usually lay ceiling tiles on my build table to pin to. If your table does have a slight high or low spot, I have in the past used thin carboard to shim the lows out, then once it checks out flat with a long straight edge I will tape it down... So if your hard surface of the table isn't perfect it can be tweaked to be useable.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:22 AM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

Once you get it built a trick to see if it is flat is to use a flourescent tube.
I understand these have to be very precise in their construction.
I learned this from a man who was selling flat workbenches.
Good Luck,
KW_Counter
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Old 11-14-2008, 11:51 AM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I prefer to use a solid core door since it offers more rigidity than a hollow one. I have used both types. Hollow core doors can flex
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Old 11-14-2008, 11:57 AM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

STONE IS THE WAY TO GO!

Look around for a damaged granite or marble kitchen worktop. I got mine at a the UK equivelent of a thrift shop for $5.

I then used contact adhesive to attach some 1/4 thick cork sheeting. Two layers of 1/8th tiles work as well. This lasted for years. Just make sure you get high density cork usually called flooring grade.

Yes it is heavy but it is absolutly flat and stable.
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Old 11-14-2008, 12:19 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

Yes, there are obviously many things you can use. In fact, I have a total of 6 workbenches and they all have different tops on them.

A Butcher Block is outstanding, but expensive. Ditto for a solid core door. But if you can find either of these at a good price, go for it.

Anything that starts flat will stay flat with the right support, so counter tops, doors, desktops, etc are all good.
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Old 11-14-2008, 12:29 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I didn't really read what's above, but I'm sure it's to the effect that there are all different ways to get things level. Plywood is designed to resist warping, and if properly supported will make a fine surface. I personally use a hollow core door because there was one laying around and it fits in my small space. I have it over a pair of tv stands (which gives me storage under the bench and a place to tuck my legs/chair into) and have the door shimmed level. It doesn't stay permanently perfect, but the times I actually need a perfectly level surface are few and far between, and just require a little reposition of shims to fix.

Next plan is to cover the bench with glass.
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Old 11-14-2008, 02:17 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

What I've always used is a top made out of 1" marine ply. It's straight, and very stable.
I choose the best lookin' surface for the top (which is difficult as it all looks perfect) and the screw a 1"x2" frame all around.
I then lay that onto of a normal Chip Board constructed work bench and pack-up the corners as required.
What nice is that it's stone ridged and completely stable yet... and this is important... you can knock a pin into it... without bending 5 in the process!
Remember, Marine ply not just general building plywood.
It has a light Ash/Maple tone... very nice to look at.
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Old 11-14-2008, 05:27 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

You can go koo koo crazy with it like the guy in these threads:

[link=http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_6400470/anchors_6400470/mpage_1/key_lazy%252Cmans/anchor/tm.htm#6400470]Lazy mans table[/link]

[link=http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_6642476/anchors_6642476/mpage_1/key_magnetic%252Cbuilding/anchor/tm.htm#6642476]magnetic building[/link]


If you like pain, that is.
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Old 11-14-2008, 06:00 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

Now you wanna get crazy? I used to work in a machine shop that had a surface grinder.

The magnetic table was flat to within .0001 (One ten thousanth) of an inch.

It made the straightest wings you ever saw!
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Old 11-14-2008, 08:57 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?



Wow. That's like having a grade 2 granite surface table!

Yeah, that's flat!!!
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Old 11-15-2008, 10:49 AM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

I spent money on solid core doors (bought two), but neither one of them was as flat as I would have liked, so this is what I build on:

http://www.factoryglassdirect.com/p-...1in-bevel.aspx

On top of it lays sheet metal for magnets.

This may be an overkill and it is not the cheapest solution around (although really not too bad), but you can be certain it will not warp over time!
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:48 PM
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Default RE: How to get a perfectly flat (=plan, leveled) workbench?

The best one I've come across is, GP's building board. They come in three sizes.I got the bigger one and it is 16X48, plenty of work space for most of us.And the best< they are dead flat! I've had mine about fifteen years now and still flat. I also have it on a used frabric table I bought for a store going out of buiness.$75.00 has four sliding doors below, with four full ext. drawers. and the top is 1 1/2 inches thick with formica, 6ft. sq., again, flat.The building boards are 3/4 inch balsa and hold pins nice. $30.00
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