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I am considering, as sort of a practice/experience type of thing, to make an alternative surface for
for my workbench. It is an old hospital door (maple). What kind of surface might work into this idea?
I realize the maple is sufficient for most things, just looking to get some experience under my belt with something that will be functional,  so to speak. Thanks.
 
paul wheaton
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Are you saying that your current workbench is a door and you want something else?  Or, are you saying that you have a door and you would like to make it be your workbench, but you have concerns? 

Can you upload pics?

 
                        
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Sorry for the lack of clarity.
I have a workbench and the top is made from a maple door. I like it, but also was wondering
if I could surface it with something alternative, for the practice and experience, with something that could serve as a countertop surface/workbench surface, etc.
Thanks.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'm really fond of concrete as a counter surface.  There are pigments that mix well with powdered cement (magnetite is nice, but there are many others).  Where you can get really creative is in your choice of aggregate.  I have seen or heard of pumice, wood chips, brass swarf, broken glass, oyster shells...it takes some effort to sand down and expose this stuff, but it can look really nice.
 
paul wheaton
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I like wood for a workbench because I can attach stuff to the workbench easily when needed.
 
Jami McBride
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I'm really fond of concrete as a counter surface.


Polyparadigm - have you used concrete for a countertop?  I've seen what professionals can do with it and it is really cool, but I wonder about using it as a DIY project.  I'd love to hear about someone's experience with this.

Paul - I am with you on using wood for workbench. 
However, in certain situations where a durable waterproof surface is required the choices are expensive and/or toxic.  So I'm curious about using concrete for countertops (new thread maybe).

How about it Radman - what are the requirements for your workbench?
 
                                  
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Maple would make an excellent bench surface. Especially so if it is rock maple or bird's eye maple.

Concrete countertops can be made at home with some reading and patience. If you want something a little more sustainable you can also make earthcrete countertops and just treat it like you would a concrete countertop.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I have used concrete countertops, and liked them.  They have some advantages over wood, and some drawbacks.

And I would count earthcrete and Roman concrete among the compositions to consider.  Aggregate and binder should probably both be sustainable.

Fly ash is a very popular component.  It's particularly good if you lack a local source of clay.  But be careful to include enough lime in your mix to bind all parts of the fly ash into the chemical structure of your finished concrete, i.e. talk to someone who knows what they're doing on this.
 
Jami McBride
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Okay.... the special on concrete countertops I saw went into great detail about it being tricky to get the surface smooth/dense enough so it was like stone, and didn't absorb smells, bacteria and stain.  They made it clear that just pouring and smoothing would not cut it.  They used big custom machinery to create concrete that rivals granite.

So this was the part I was wondering about - did you do anything special/different when making yours to address this?  Or are your uses more industrial and so your not concerned with a dense surface? It sounds like you've done some experimenting in this area.  Do you have any pictures you could post?

Do you know of any links to good info on this process?

I would like to do some experimenting myself.

~Jami
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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CurrentWave wrote:It sounds like you've done some experimenting in this area.  Do you have any pictures you could post?


No experience building them.  I've used a few that were installed professionally, and they were great.  Separately, I have graduate-level education in this general field (materials science) and so have a scholarly understanding of the chemistry and mechanical issues etc.

I'm also curious and read stuff like this for fun (something I ran into last year or so):

http://www.instructables.com/id/Concrete-Countertops-for-the-Kitchen---Solid-Surfa/

Good concrete does not happen by accident, but it can be done with local, renewable resources if you know what you're doing.

The link I've provided talks a bit about sealing the surface (and addresses the tamping/grinding issues you mentioned).  It doesn't say if the sealer in the kit was water glass, but I bet it was. It works, and is pretty benign.
 
Jami McBride
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Very cool, thanks for the link!
 
Brenda Groth
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if you want your workbench to be movable you might want to just stick with the maple door..if you want it smoother you could put a frame around it and pour acrylic on the top to seal it and make it smooth as glass.
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