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Worktable - Build vs Buy?

I have a Canadian Tire mobile work bench with the wheels removed for my Durston DRM 130. The bench is absolutely fine for the mill, it does not move, mainly I think because it also serves as storage for a lot of my heavier tools and equipment. The only fault I find with it is that it could be about 8 inches higher, i lost 4" in height by not using the wheels and I’m also tall. I do find that i am able to utilize the lower height to my advantage however. I think the bench you are looking at buying will be too light on its own even with the mill on top. Add a lower shelf and weigh it down and it might be ok.

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Spent Friday sanding the top down and plan to add a coat of polyurethane every 12 hours (sanding between coats) for the next several days. Want to get at least 8 coats probably more like 10… Then let it cure for several days before attaching the frame.

The slab of wood top weighs about 125 lbs. Had to use a dolly to get it around to the basement door; then me and hubby struggled to lift it onto a couple of supports.

I will be adding a 2 x 12 lumber shelf below to hold more stuff and add more weight. If it moves, will add the cross bracing.

I think it’ll be great! Then on to jewelry making!

I’m sure it’s going to work out fine for you. Can’t wait to see the finished bench.

Thanks Sonja :slight_smile:

Hi Sharon,.

I suppose it doesn’t matter with a large chunk of lumber or with polyurethane but coming wisdom used to be odd numbers in the layers of paint or varnish. That is from the days when I built and repaired commercial fishing boats.

The varnish would be more stable and less likely to peel.

I bet your project will look great.

Don Meixner

I’m curious, Don… what is the logic behind odd layers vs even :slight_smile: ? I already have a few unopened cans of polyurethane, so that’s what I’ll use… hopefully one of them is oil-based, as it’s the hardest finish.


Why not use it for a rolling mill?

My 130mm durston rolling mill is on a small table I made out of 2x4’s and I simply anchored the table into my concrete floor with a few tap-cons and my table or rolling mill never moves when I use it.

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The thought was, I believe, that each coat was a contiguous layer and it would move with the humidity. So like Ply wood,. One coat went with the grain, the next went cross grain,. And the third went with the grain. Supposedly this equalized the stress on the finish and the coats wouldn’t pull apart. I did it because I was told to and the final finish looked great. Like Ply wood, three plies lady flat, to plies and the wood pulls away.

Not very clear I suppose but Ted Frater probably knows​ why and can write a book on it.




If you didn’t understand my post, then I’ll attempt to expound upon my thoughts.

Heavy is good, but I think weight is not the only consideration when supporting a mill.

Maybe it’s because I take too big of a bite when I roll, but I feel a lot of stress in every direction, even though I use a Durston pedestal attached to the floor.

I think the support for a rolling mill should be attached to the floor, or an immovable structure placed in a corner so that it is attached to studs in two walls, such as a built-in counter …and even then I would also want to attach it to the floor, but maybe I’m being too cautious.

I think that when this type of stress is dependent on weight alone, it will put lateral stress on the table legs. I would eventually expect the table to wobble and ultimately collapse, largely because the legs will be carrying a heavy load, and those metal legs are dependent on screws or bolts.

And if hammering is done on this table, such as the type of strikes done on a disk cutter, it would hasten the failure of the legs.

But more experienced folks than me have said that it was not necessary for this table to be attached to any structure for support, and surely they know better than me.

Sharon --

It wouldn't be a bad idea to put at least one coat of varnish on the underside of that top too.

-- alonzo

:slight_smile: Didn’t sand off the original finish on the underside. But I think I’ll go over it once anyway. Thanks.

Hi Don, and Sharon,
Thanks for your compliment! but dont have the time to writea book on this finishing issue.
Sharon, A couple of coats really would be enough as its a work table, mainly to ease the wiping down or protecting against coffe or tea cup rings!.
Be that as it may, you say oil based. Well varnishes were originally made from boiled linseed oil and distilled tree turpentine. Then to cut costs paint makers introduced hydro carbon additives to these original oils.kerosene viscosity ~then other polyeurethanes to harden and toughen the surface.
to cut a long story short, i was blessed with the chance to build my own wooden house ( im still in
now!) in `1972 and used the Russian equivalent to Oregon pine flooring 7 by 1 square edge called Archangel red for all my floors inc the kitchen. The only concrete was in the foundations and the oversite over which went the floor joists.
The boards were cramped, to the floor joists then sanded smooth and given 2 coats of a poly eurethane varnish.
this lasted in the main tread areas some 20 yrs so sanded and re varnished . its now due to be done again.
DONT use the water based varnishes. There crap.
Also its a waste of time painting each coat at 90 deg to the previous. whats important is time the coats so the second or more is only 24 to 36 hrs apart. This makes the top coat etch into the previous coat.
Sanding is only really needed if your varnish needs de nibbing.
After all its not going to be your dining room table is it?
Particle board or chip board has only one really good value as a fuel in our stove. Low water content and high thermal value.
To set the mill at the right height, it would be easier to put some of the 2 by 8 as a packing under the mill instead of fussing about making the legs longer if your tall as in 6ft… As for bolting it down your best bet would be threaded 1/2in dia rod cut to length with a bag of the right nuts and some big and thick washers .
but im sure you know all this any way.



Thanks Ted. As always a great response.

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Good morning Ted…

As usual you offer a wealth of information :slight_smile: . And never assume I know anything. Just when I think I’ve got it covered, someone comes along and tells me something I didn’t know and it usually saves me time, money, and/or effort… Case in point, “A couple of coats really would be enough as its a work table” and I’m laughing at myself as I re-read “it would be easier to put some of the 2 by 8 as a packing under the mill” Yes, the most obvious solution eluded me… Raise the RM not the table :slight_smile: . I’m 5’5"-5’6" BTW. Adding a 1-1.5" thick piece would bring it to where it is at now and pretty comfortable.

I applied the first coat of OB polyurethane this morning… This product can be re-coated after 4-6 hours (or 72 hrs beyond that window). The instructions are to wait 72 hours after final coat before normal use (floors & furniture), but also mention that one should not install rugs for 7 days. I think that means full cure is 7 days and anything placed on the table before that time will sink into the finish. Hmmm… Good news/bad news I guess. I can get 4 coats on in a day, but have to wait 7 days before I can set it up. It’s all good… have lots of work to do outside!