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WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/4/16 8:29 p.m.

I'm thinking it's time to re top my work bench. It's a very solid 30"x8' wooden bench that has a 1/4"ply replaceable top. I have to order some roll bar tubing anyway, so I was thinking of just getting them to get me some sheet metal and put a 90° bend at the back for a little 2"splash to keep things from falling down.

What gauge do you think I should request? I was thinking 12 ga (.1") or 11 (.125"). Is that excessive?

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
1/4/16 8:32 p.m.

The stainless workbenches at the engine shop are 1/8" with a lip in the back going up and one in the front going down. They don't see any hammering or anything, just parts and sometimes Sharpied notes and puddles of assembly lube.

The WORKbench is 1/2" plate, 4' by 8'. Yeah it's heavy.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/4/16 8:34 p.m.

Hmm. I don't think I need 1/2, maybe 1/4 isn't unreasonable, though. Thanks for the info!

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
1/4/16 8:35 p.m.

I'd go 1" but I have a thing for overdoing it.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
1/4/16 8:40 p.m.

Most I've ever seen is 1/8".

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
1/4/16 9:02 p.m.

I use 1/4 inch plate to make supercharger mounting plates and even a one foot square plate is dam heavy a whole bench top of it would be crazy.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/4/16 9:05 p.m.

That's kinda my thought, and it wouldn't be free standing it anything, it's completely supported by (pretty solid) wood..

Brian
Brian MegaDork
1/4/16 9:30 p.m.

If it is going over a solid wood top the 11 gauge sounds right.

RedGT
RedGT Reader
1/4/16 9:38 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: I'd go 1" but I have a thing for overdoing it.

Ah, yes, the ol' 869 pound work bench topper.

Semi-serious flat surfaces, yeah, 1/2". Just for a home workbench/welding table, 1/8" or maybe just 12ga (0.105) would be fine.

snailmont5oh
snailmont5oh Reader
1/4/16 9:52 p.m.

1/8" (11ga) should do it, as long as you're not beating the hell out of it too badly.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/4/16 10:04 p.m.

I think I've got 1/4" on mine, but it also doesn't have wood underneath, just a steel frame. You don't need structure in your case so there's no reason to go very thick.

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin Dork
1/4/16 10:15 p.m.

I have 20 Guage but I welded a large chunk of 3/8 plate into the middle for hammering and abuse.

codrus
codrus Dork
1/5/16 1:21 a.m.

So if you're topping a workbench, should you use mild steel or stainless?

In addition to weighing over 800 pounds, 30x96x1 in mild steel is $2275. In stainless it's $7500!

jstand
jstand HalfDork
1/5/16 5:59 a.m.

If the wood top already supports the work you are doing on the bench then you don't need it to be structural.

If it isn't structural then my recommendation is go with 16 to 20 gauge (galvanized or painted to prevent rust). Any thicker is overkill and just adds weight.

The lighter gauge will be easier to form, and can be glued down to the wood to give a nice solid feel. Glueing will also help prevent "ringing" when anything is dropped or hammered on the steel bench top.

tr8todd
tr8todd Dork
1/5/16 6:15 a.m.

If you want to weld/tack metal to it like a jig, it needs to be thicker than if you just want to protect the wood. Sheet metal can get pricey. If you want to go grassroots, take your cordless sawmill to the junk yard and cut out the side of a van or the roof of a Buick. I scrap a lot of boilers, and one of my buddies is always scrounging sheet metal and louvered panels off of them before they get hauled away. You'd be surprised how many classic cars are running around here with sheet metal repairs made out of boiler skins and washing machines. FWIW trunk lids are thick, flat, easy to remove and carry, and usually real cheap at pick and pulls. A couple of those with the Monte Carlo badge hanging off the front would look pretty cool.

fasted58
fasted58 UltimaDork
1/5/16 7:55 a.m.

Just to top a wooden bench 11 ga. (.120") oughta be enough. For a welding/ fab/ beat on table, 1/4" be moar better.

Scored a 5/16" x 30" x 60" steel plate at auction, made a great fab table w/ 1x2 legs and caster wheels.

After I destroyed the old wooden work bench in the old pipe shop the boss let me build a new one. I ordered 2x2 x 11 gauge but he ordered 1/4"W. Why stop there, I ordered 3/8"x 4'x 8' steel plate to top it then. I calculated it all finished out at 600 lbs. I welded feet on the legs to Hilti bolt it to the floor. It don't need anchors... it don't berkeleying move.

That's the only thing I miss about that old place, wish I had that table at home.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/5/16 8:50 a.m.
codrus wrote: So if you're topping a workbench, should you use mild steel or stainless? In addition to weighing over 800 pounds, 30x96x1 in mild steel is $2275. In stainless it's $7500!

I'd go mild. Then you have the option of welding things to it. Rust has never been an issue for me, probably due to a combination of oily stuff sitting on the table and constant moving stuff around.

My work bench is attached to the center of the earth so that I can apply ridiculous amounts of force to things. Nothing's more frustrating than a vise attached to a table that can move.

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
1/5/16 9:30 a.m.

It depends how you use it, but some of the suggestions are probably overkill. I've always been fine with 16 gauge over something like 3/4" plywood. It's a different story if you expect to tack-weld stuff to it or such, but for general mechanic/light fab 16 ga should suffice.

ncjay
ncjay Dork
1/5/16 11:28 a.m.

Most of the time, I stick with something between .090" to .125" for just covering a wood bench. I have one small table that is a 1/2" thick to do most of my beating, banging, and welding on. If you're not going to beat and bang on it, you could probably get away with .060" thick material.

motomoron
motomoron SuperDork
1/5/16 11:37 a.m.

You shouldn't be beating on a bench. That's what a concrete floor/anvil/large vise on a base bolted to a concrete floor is for. So the steel top is to keep the sharp corners of a big part from digging into the wood and the wood to not slowly become thoroughly permeated with every petrochemical known to man.

I have 14 gauge mild steel over a 2" thick maple top - I got all of it for free, not by any particular choice. 1/2" plate is nice for a welding table but 1/4 is fine up to 4' square, especially if you sit it on a square tube frame that's bisected by a member.

codrus
codrus Dork
1/5/16 2:46 p.m.
motomoron wrote: You shouldn't be beating on a bench. That's what a concrete floor/anvil/large vise on a base bolted to a concrete floor is for. So the steel top is to keep the sharp corners of a big part from digging into the wood and the wood to not slowly become thoroughly permeated with every petrochemical known to man.

And to stop the welder from putting little scorch marks into the bench surface. I don't want to weld something to the bench, but I want to be able to set something on the bench to do the welding.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/5/16 3:33 p.m.

You too are correct on what I'm looking for.. I have a quote out for 12 gauge, to see the difference in price between mild steel, 301 SS and 304 SS..

I'll let you guys know what the difference is.

pirate
pirate Reader
1/5/16 3:42 p.m.

I really don't do a lot of beating or hammering on my work bench top but do some assemby, layout of metal work. If the existing top is sound have you thought about a sheet of rubber. It s easy to clean and will last forever. If you need it for welding forget this suggestion.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/6/16 7:01 a.m.
pirate wrote: I really don't do a lot of beating or hammering on my work bench top but do some assemby, layout of metal work. If the existing top is sound have you thought about a sheet of rubber. It s easy to clean and will last forever. If you need it for welding forget this suggestion.

That's a good idea, but I do a lot of welding, grinding, torching, etc.. I know the anti-fatigue mat in front of the bench is looking pretty beat due to slag from that kind of thing. I'm kinda worried that the oil-soaked wood will light off one of these times :)

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane HalfDork
1/25/16 2:58 p.m.

So, for those of you playing along at home:

I ended up with 11ga (~.120") regular mild steel, I got a 4x8 sheet of it for $135. I couldn't find anything of use in 304 stainless cheaply on craigslist, and anything that would fit the bill was more expensive than ordering from my local metal supplier. $410 was the quoted price for 11Ga 304, and 12ga was $310, so I was more pragmatic and just went mild.

Do you guys think I should do anything to try to seal against rust underneath it? Paint, primer, etc?

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