I see a lot of workbench plans on the Web that suggest using a door as a bench top. The idea has always intrigued me – mostly because I always seem to have a spare door in the garage or basement that the previous owners have left behind. At first I’m excited to discover such a treasure – certainly something that big and heavy should be useful for something, I reason. And yeah – a workbench might be the perfect thing. But with a closer look, I’m often disappointed to find that these are not always the best choice for a workbench top.
The problem is that a lot of discarded doors are the inexpensive hollow-core type- which look a whole lot more sturdy than they really are. The outer casing is often nothing more than a thin piece of 1/8 plywood – glued on top of a honeycomb of lightweight material that I usually can’t identifiy. Needless to say, this is probably not a good choice for a typical workbench top. Maybe okay for a hobby table, but not something you’d want to start hammering on.
Now if you’re lucky enough to find a “real” door in your basement – something that is solid wood (you’ll know this right away from how much it weighs) – the workbench plans that call for such material might very well be on to something. For example, a friend of mine discovered a solid oak door in his basement that apparently came from an old church or school. Obviously the person who put it there had some plans of his/her own for building something – and it’s a good chance the idea was to build a workbench. Try estimating what it might cost you to buy that much oak and glue it up into a flat panel, and you can see that a door like this is most certainly a real find.