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Best Bench Surface for DIY Tuning Bench?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
So I spent a few hours last Saturday and started building a ski tuning bench in my basement. It is setup more like a general workbench in a dedicated location for year-round use, but purposefully built to accomodate ski tuning. Turned out well, and is very stable.

Here is an overview of what I've completed so far:
-Bench surface area 72" wide by 22" deep at 36" high, made of 1/2" MDF
-Framed in 2x4's, with 3.5" lip along entire front edge of bench surface (supported by a 2x4 to securely mount vise)
-Peg board backstop, centered (48" wide) with two 13" wide MDF boards on each side to mount ski rack, storage, etc

-Hardware: Pro500 Ski Vise, 2 Folding & Coated Ladder Hooks mounted to backstop (drops down to hold skis while cooling, etc), 4 white wire baskets (like those for kitchen pantry) modified and attached to backstop

(As descriptive as I could be, until I can get a picture posted)

So now for the question...
I am deciding how to finish the benchtop surface in hopes of making it easy to clean off wax, etc. Any ideas for a cheap solution? Or is it prob just fine natural?

I've considered buying a roll of that kitchen countertop laminate stuff and using contact cement to cover the MDF. But for $50 a roll, kind of excessive. I imagine diamond plating costing even more. Any other ideas?
post #2 of 21
Fine natural.

You may want to think about a back lip/beer stabilizer.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Great idea...My current beer stabilizer is my left hand
post #4 of 21
Either an old fridge box, or if you want to spend hardwood flooring dealers have 4x8 sheets of cardboard they use to protect flooring installs. I'd venture $3-5 per sheet. Cut to fit, and once it's all gummed up with wax just pull it off and toss it.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow, great idea. Like they say, keep it simple!
post #6 of 21
MDF is good but can start to fall part with water and is not very abrasion resistant. I think a formica laminate top is the best bet since its cheap, durable and with a scraper or credit card you can get all the wax off no problem. I think Home Depot sells precut off colors cheap.

Diamond plate will be nearly impossible to clean, but is more durable for use as a work bench.

Smooth aluminum or stainless sheeting could also be used, but that will be much more costly than the formica.
post #7 of 21
I bought a roll of brown paper, 36" wide, at Lowes for about $20. It will likely last me for decades. Every couple months I roll out a new section, cut to length, and tape down to my workbench. You can also buy a heavier "felt" paper too (not tar paper).
post #8 of 21
You need one additional feature ....

A place to set down a hot iron. Even if it's something like a old small cookie sheet, just a dedicated place where something won't get scorched, burned or go up in flames.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
All great advice!

As for the top surface, part of the motivation to build the bench was a left-over sheet of MDF I had sitting in the garage. But I agree, the formica top would be best. That is why I looked into buying the laminate in a roll and basically making a countertop that way, but ended up being pricey.

As for a place for the iron, the cookie sheet is a good idea. I was also going to try the clamp-on one that came with our ironing board (while wife looks the other way).
post #10 of 21
If you feel like spending a few bucks, the newer silicone cookie sheets would probably work really well as a place to set an iron 'cause it'll insulate as opposed to a metal cookie sheet. And most of them are oven safe up to 500F so you could even set the iron hot side down on it.
post #11 of 21
Why not just stand the iron? Thats what I do.
post #12 of 21
Re for the top surface- depending on your resourcefulness I'd suggest- any kitchen counter top surface- flormica (sp?), etc. It would not have to be new- call a few of the kitchen remodeling places and ask if one of the crews could save something from a tear out remodeling job- anything even the ugly 70's orange color or what ever as long as it was able to be cut to size you need. (Offer up a case of beer maybe for the effort and the call to come pick it up.)

There 1/8 inch tileboard that is a coated one side with wood particle type that has the flormica type stuff on it too- used for back splash boards around sinks etc or the shower stalls that are not fiberglass. I've also seen it used for dry eraser boards and the like in a white finish.

Tyvex would work- stronger than cardboard, probably more money too- but they sell it for insulation and vapor barriers on houses.

A step up from cardboard is the plastic corregated (white- looks like cardboard though in the center- see any USPS mail tray as an example of the stuff. I've also seen it in signs, etc. It again would be stronger and probably easier to clean.
post #13 of 21
Good idea RShea

My current workbench top is a leaf from a wood print formica kitchen table. Found it tossed out on the street.
post #14 of 21
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Why not just stand the iron? Thats what I do.
Me too, but I actually like this idea. It never hurts to have a backup plan for safety.
post #15 of 21
Someone over at TGR used an old computer desk and htat was a neat idea.
post #16 of 21
Spar Varnish soaks nicely into MDF and stabilizes it pretty well, especially after 2 or 3 coats, the wax would scrape righ off of it too. Thats how I coated the MDF tops of my workbenches
post #17 of 21
What kind of 12 string?

Why have a place to set a hot iron .... oh .... sooner or later, something can and will get knocked over just shuffling skis in and out of the vices.

And I hear tell of one guy who likes to wax with a jug of 15 year old Scotch at his side. And if he thinks his girlfriend hates the smell of those cheap cee-gars, wait till the smell of the ...
post #18 of 21
I heard something like that too.....but his cigars are not so cheap and that even when he's smoking a Romeo Y Julieta hecho en Cuba she still complains
post #19 of 21
the 12 string is an alvarez, It doesn't get played as much anymore, My 6 string seagull ends up getting taken out more nowadays
post #20 of 21
Since we just did a complete kitchen remodel, I used a 50" section of Formica counter top and then covered it with leftover granite tiles. The tiles are smooth, very durable, and very heat resistant. Used some silicon caulking to fill in the spaces between them.

Overall, my bench cost me nothing, used one of the old base cabinets for the stand, have some nice drawers and storage space as well. Very stable
post #21 of 21
If you are using rotobrushes, you may want to consider something on the floor as the dust will most likely go well beyond your bench ...
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