Assembly bench

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Assembly bench

Postby thatsnotafestool » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:10 pm

Inspired by Jonny's hospital torsion bed, I realise I can do better for an assembly/finishing station. Mine is not going to be as snazzy as I was thinking of using kitchen carcasses, bolted together and a thick slab of MDF on top with a slight overhang all round for clamping. I can stick the winding sticks on and adjust the legs so it's perfectly level in all directions. Stick some drawers in. Job done.

Or have I missed something? I see Jonny uses the Festool type top with multiple holes but not sure I'd see/use the benefit of this. Could always put one on as an afterthought later on, I guess.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby OryxDesign » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:26 pm

A torsion box is nice because it remains flat, you don't have to put the holes in but you might want to consider some way of clamping to it.
I find drawers more useful than cupboards.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby thatsnotafestool » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:20 pm

I understand what you;re saying but surely if the cabinets are levelled off and don't move then the MDF slab on top will also remain flat? (I think?!)

I was thinking of making the MDF oversize relative to the carcasses so that will let me clamp (at least on two sides).

Agree re drawers.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:20 pm

Any old table will do. Getting things flat/square shouldn't depend on the surface you are assembling it on.
The trad assembly table tops I've seen (in a training establishment) were made with a grid 3x2" or 4x2 etc (fixed with the width vertical) and gaps (2" +) between. Clamps can sit in the gaps and glue and debris drops through. Also were well finished with linseed oil so that they were easy to clean off. Severely against the rules to let things dry on the assembly table after gluing - they had to be taken off and propped somewhere else

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby paulchapman » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:48 pm

mrgrimsdale wrote:Any old table will do. Getting things flat/square shouldn't depend on the surface you are assembling it on.


I don't agree - in my experience, assembling stuff on a surface that isn't level will tend to result in it being pulled out of square.

Cheers ;)

Paul

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jonnyd » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:14 pm

I agree flat and level is so much easier. With regard the holes they come in very usefull for a variety of clamping and holding jobs and it makes the top very versatile. I will try and take some pics of how I use the bench and update the thread.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mattty » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:29 pm

mrgrimsdale wrote:Any old table will do. Getting things flat/square shouldn't depend on the surface you are assembling it on.
The trad assembly table tops I've seen (in a training establishment) were made with a grid 3x2" or 4x2 etc (fixed with the width vertical) and gaps (2" +) between. Clamps can sit in the gaps and glue and debris drops through. Also were well finished with linseed oil so that they were easy to clean off. Severely against the rules to let things dry on the assembly table after gluing - they had to be taken off and propped somewhere else


You have to agree though, it makes an awful lot more sense to have a flat, true and level surface to work off.
Cheers, Matt.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby PAC » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:46 pm

Where I served my apprenticeship we levelled then nailed two lengths of 4x2 to our bench :o when we were ready to assemble things. It was very efficient as you could get clamps where needed with no problem. I doubt I would do that now

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby hammertime » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:03 pm

I just use a few 60mm wide offcuts of 25 mm mdf as bearers. Before i start i chuck a 6mm sheet of mdf ontop the bench to catch any glue that drips down.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:41 pm

mattty wrote:
mrgrimsdale wrote:Any old table will do. Getting things flat/square shouldn't depend on the surface you are assembling it on.
The trad assembly table tops I've seen (in a training establishment) were made with a grid 3x2" or 4x2 etc (fixed with the width vertical) and gaps (2" +) between. Clamps can sit in the gaps and glue and debris drops through. Also were well finished with linseed oil so that they were easy to clean off. Severely against the rules to let things dry on the assembly table after gluing - they had to be taken off and propped somewhere else


You have to agree though, it makes an awful lot more sense to have a flat, true and level surface to work off.

Er, not especially. Just normal will do. This flat, true and level surface is something that's crept in from engineering perhaps?

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:16 pm

paulchapman wrote:
mrgrimsdale wrote:Any old table will do. Getting things flat/square shouldn't depend on the surface you are assembling it on.


I don't agree - in my experience, assembling stuff on a surface that isn't level will tend to result in it being pulled out of square.

Cheers ;)

Paul
I can't imagine why and even if it could you don't have to let it happen. How does a surface pull things out of square?

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby paulchapman » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:33 pm

mrgrimsdale wrote: How does a surface pull things out of square?


Easy enough to demonstrate. Take a cabinet with doors and stand it on a surface that isn't level and you will find that the doors no longer line up.

Cheers ;)

Paul

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:57 pm

paulchapman wrote:
mrgrimsdale wrote: How does a surface pull things out of square?


Easy enough to demonstrate. Take a cabinet with doors and stand it on a surface that isn't level and you will find that the doors no longer line up.

Cheers ;)

Paul


Apart from, in fact, it would just wobble (with straight doors) on the flat surface generally, unless you have made it out of something stupid like hardboard.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby thatsnotafestool » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:21 am

And we are - off again. The two trolling tw ats are at it again (that's Butler and Jake)

JonnyD posts a good thread on making a torsion top. I've just re-read that thread. No comments at all from our two trolling tw ats about how it doesn't need to be level etc or how pointless (allegedly) having a level surface is. Nothing. Shtum.

So then I start a thread on a similar topic. I get one good positive contribution from onyxdesign and then in comes our Troll closely followed by his Troll-mate.

Butler, you're determined to screw this forum into the ground. STOP BEING A TROLL, you odious little shite.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby modernist » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:47 am

I'm not a mod Roger but in the interests of common decency would you like to moderate your offensive language.

The merits or otherwise of making furniture on an undulating bench top are within the grasp of most on this forum and your contribution is not helpful.
Cheers

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:26 am

paulchapman wrote:
mrgrimsdale wrote: How does a surface pull things out of square?


Easy enough to demonstrate. Take a cabinet with doors and stand it on a surface that isn't level and you will find that the doors no longer line up.

Cheers ;)

Paul
What, a rubber cabinet?
Obviously you want reasonably level (normal) surface but there seems to be this idea of a special engineered perfect surface for "assembly", which is a new idea as far as I'm concerned, and not something I've ever felt the need for, having made thousands of things.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:30 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:And we are - off again. The two trolling tw ats are at it again (that's Butler and Jake).


Go f**k yourself Sinden, and learn to read.

I wasn't suggesting that a flat assembly surface is not a good idea - I think it is. However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:40 am

Funny how things change! It's a lot better over there. These bad tempered moronic thugs aren't allowed. This place is getting to be like an infant school play ground on a bad day.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby woodsmith » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:45 am

jake wrote:
I wasn't suggesting that a flat assembly surface is not a good idea - I think it is. However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".


That has not been my experience, most free standing cabinets, especially with large door openings, will flex slightly and that can be enough to make close fitting doors bind if the cabinet does not sit on a flat surface or is wedged to compensate.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:53 am

woodsmith wrote:
jake wrote:
I wasn't suggesting that a flat assembly surface is not a good idea - I think it is. However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".


That has not been my experience, most free standing cabinets, especially with large door openings, will flex slightly and that can be enough to make close fitting doors bind if the cabinet does not sit on a flat surface or is wedged to compensate.


Well there you go, you have qualified your sentence yourself.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby woodsmith » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:56 am

jake wrote:
woodsmith wrote:
jake wrote:
I wasn't suggesting that a flat assembly surface is not a good idea - I think it is. However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".


That has not been my experience, most free standing cabinets, especially with large door openings, will flex slightly and that can be enough to make close fitting doors bind if the cabinet does not sit on a flat surface or is wedged to compensate.


Well there you go, you have qualified your sentence yourself.


Sorry, not with you on that, what is it you are trying to say?
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:58 am

woodsmith wrote:
jake wrote:
I wasn't suggesting that a flat assembly surface is not a good idea - I think it is. However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".


That has not been my experience, most free standing cabinets, especially with large door openings, will flex slightly and that can be enough to make close fitting doors bind if the cabinet does not sit on a flat surface or is wedged to compensate.

Wedge. Exactly. In any case if it required an engineered flat assembly surface it wouldn't suit any room without an engineered flat floor.
Don't let me stop Roger making himself a torsion box (and getting in it and closing the lid!) but all I'm saying is that there are lots of little strategies for getting stuff straight.
On the other hand we've all had the experience (even Roger?) of cramping up our perfectly made box only to find that it's pulled out of true because the joints aren't perfect. A flat surface no help at all.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby hammertime » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:01 am

Think it kind of depends how twisted the top is youre working on. If your assembling bench is 4ft square but twisted by an inch, id have thought any cabinets you make are gonna suffer. I usually leave stuff to 'go off' or dry on the bench cause I know its flat. If youre moving something youve made from your twisted assembly bench onto somewhere flatter to dry, then I doubt it would matter. Kind of depends what you're making aswell. If its a freestanding cupboard (just 18mm mdf) that just needs scribing to the floor then having it dry twisted is gonna make you stressed when it comes to fitting- not a problem if you can fix it in an alcove and wedge/jig it back to true. Id have thought it just easier to stick with a flat surface .
Sounds like you lot dont mince your words here :lol:

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby thatsnotafestool » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:16 am

modernist wrote:I'm not a mod Roger but in the interests of common decency would you like to moderate your offensive language.

The merits or otherwise of making furniture on an undulating bench top are within the grasp of most on this forum and your contribution is not helpful.


Brian...please stop taking sides. Look at the facts.

We have one thread posted by JonnyD on making a torsion box. No comment from either Butler or Jake as to the merits or demerits of a torsion box, flatness etc.

But as soon as I start a thread in they come trolling. It happens all the time. That gets wearisome after a while. I think my language is justified.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby thatsnotafestool » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:19 am

jake wrote:...... However, Paul's glib suggestion that if you put any cabinet with doors on a non-level surface it pulls the doors all out of line is just not true for a large subset of "cabinets with doors".


He's right. You're wrong. Get over it, troll.
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:28 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:
modernist wrote:I'm not a mod Roger but in the interests of common decency would you like to moderate your offensive language.

The merits or otherwise of making furniture on an undulating bench top are within the grasp of most on this forum and your contribution is not helpful.


Brian...please stop taking sides. Look at the facts.

We have one thread posted by JonnyD on making a torsion box. No comment from either Butler or Jake as to the merits or demerits of a torsion box, flatness etc.

But as soon as I start a thread in they come trolling. It happens all the time. That gets wearisome after a while. I think my language is justified.

I saw JonnD's thread but thought his contraption was for some special purpose. But he did demonstrate how to make something perfectly square (his torsion box) but making it without a torsion box! QED!

No Roger we are not picking on you. Don't be a silly boy, stop calling people silly names and calm down it's not good for you.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:29 am

woodsmith wrote:Sorry, not with you on that, what is it you are trying to say?


That if Paul had made a more reasonable comment along the lines of "if you put larger cabinets with close fitting doors on a non-flat surface, they will sometimes bind", it would have passed without response from me. When I initially responded, for whatever reason I had smaller Krenov-derivatives in my mind (which I accept was no more logical than the sweeping generalisation).

What do you do about the floor these pieces are going to sit on, out of interest?

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:35 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:Get over it, troll.


Call me what you like. You know what I think of you, and you therefore should be able to work out how much I care about what you say about me.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby promhandicam » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:50 am

jake wrote:What do you do about the floor these pieces are going to sit on, out of interest?


I seem to remember a recent discussion on this here http://www.woodworkuk.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9146

thatsnotafestool wrote:. . . So three attempts later, having discovered that the builder had not levelled the concrete underneath the stairs very well, the carcass is temporarily stuffed in the hole. . . and therein lies the rub as I can't really see my way forward. Theory says that it needs to be perfectly level and vertical. . . .Wedges underneath?


Hopefully not 'quoted out of context'. Further down, IIRC, there were some useful suggestions about how to get things level.

AFAIC, my bench is reasonably level and the apron is at 90 degrees +/- a bit and the apron is plumb (ish). Ages ago, I think when I made my bench this issue came up because I was having difficulty planing a square edge and it was down to not having a reasonably accurately made bench.

The problem in this thread comes down to the definition of level and I'm sure that most would agree that a reasonably flat and level surface is easier to work on than one that isn't. Jon's top probably needs to be made as a torsion box if he wants it to stay level as a) it is very large and b) it is designed to be moved around on castors. If Roger you plan on having a fixed bench that has a small (relative) footprint then a bit of 25mm MR MDF or an offcut of laminate breakfast bar would be more than adequate.

Happy Sunday!

PS. Roger, In case you'd forgotten, expanding foam is probably not the best way of getting your assembly bench level :lol:

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:57 am

For things like that or kitchen carcasses, yes, they are wobbly (much like a hardboard cabinet would be).

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby woodsmith » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:07 am

jake wrote:
What do you do about the floor these pieces are going to sit on, out of interest?


Put packers underneath, very slim (hopefully) folding wedges that can be glued together work well. Some of the old houses I work in have floors that are out by 50mm over the width of a metre wide cabinet, well that's the worst one I've had, I made a foot for that one out of MDF :D
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby OryxDesign » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:26 am

thatsnotafestool wrote:I understand what you;re saying but surely if the cabinets are levelled off and don't move then the MDF slab on top will also remain flat? (I think?!)

I was thinking of making the MDF oversize relative to the carcasses so that will let me clamp (at least on two sides).

Agree re drawers.


Thats the problem with mdf, it wont remain flat it will sag between the uprights. You could probably stop this happening by bridging the uprights with 4 x 2 or similar but by the time you've done all that you might as well have built a torsion box. I built a hospital bed assembly table a bit like Jons, I didn't build a torsion box for that because it had a stable steel frame that was pretty flat, I just fitted a piece of mdf on top and it has remained flat, it has been in constant use for about 4 years or so.

Incidentally, I can kinda see what Jacob is driving at, like all things flat is relative, flat enough is the key.

My other bench overhangs so I can clamp things to it, and it has a cut out so my hand held edgebander fits into it as well as a vice and some other details, it is a torsion box made from mfmdf. I've been using it for about 6 years and I wish I'd made more of an effort to make it flat (i'm not sure where I went wrong :oops: ), it has a slightly convex top which can be a pain when trying to hold a long board on it's edge.

Cheers Si

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jake » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:30 am

woodsmith wrote:
jake wrote:
What do you do about the floor these pieces are going to sit on, out of interest?


Put packers underneath, very slim (hopefully) folding wedges that can be glued together work well. Some of the old houses I work in have floors that are out by 50mm over the width of a metre wide cabinet, well that's the worst one I've had, I made a foot for that one out of MDF :D


Rightly or wrongly, I didn't have big fitted pieces in mind - they tend to have less structure to them.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:52 am

OryxDesign wrote:....... it is a torsion box made from mfmdf. I've been using it for about 6 years and I wish I'd made more of an effort to make it flat (i'm not sure where I went wrong :oops: ), it has a slightly convex top which can be a pain when trying to hold a long board on it's edge.

Cheers Si
Er hate to say it but maybe you'd be better off without it? I did wonder about how you keep a 'torsion box' flat anyway. It's such a strong structure that I imagine differential heat, humidity etc will send it off a bit.
Ultimately it's down to the eyeball. I'd most likely lay 2no 2x4' s over the bench or saw stools and eyeball them for level, which has been mentioned before. Or a piece of mdf dropped on the bench top.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby senior » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:00 am

I am going to join Doug in his silent protest, the forum just winds me up now ..... anyone know how to find him?
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Re: Assembly bench

Postby OryxDesign » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:02 am

It's stable to be fair, otherwise it might have sagged straight. It has my edgebander in it and I would make another one very similar if I needed to. It isn't the kind of bench I'd make for joinery or hand work though.

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jrm » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:49 am

Probably a bit OTT for what you have in mind but I thought I would weigh in on the side of the 'flat is best'. I was going to publish a WIP etc. when I finished this but it's not done yet after two years :oops:

I noticed that I was spending a large proportion of my time at this bench:

Image

Just an MDF top on a softwood frame which sagged enormously, causing all sorts of problems. I just decided, since it played such a big role, it was worth spending a bit of time and money on.

I got this firm to make a steel frame. http://steelyproducts.co.uk/Products.php About £300 which I didn't think was bad for a totaly bespoke item, powder coated (in a choice of colours) and on heavy duty wheels. I got them to put the stretcher at a height so I can wheel my veneer press underneath.

Image

When the firm make packing tables, etc., they just screw a sheet of MFC to the frame. Obviously, it isn't precision engineering. What I did was to open the holes to allow machine screws through. A sheet of 38mm birch ply was added (not much change from £100 :shock: ) which I marked up and inserted threaded inserts to the underside. This is then supported from the frame in a 'jack screw' principle which can be tuned up as flat as you like. It isn't an engineer's surface table but it isn't far from it. How's that for obsessive?

Image

I don't recall ever seeing this solution to a bench before so I thought I would share it at this point. On my 'proper' bench, I just give it a skim with number 7 every so often but on an 8' x 4' I don't see this as being practical so I came up with this instead.

It's going to have clamps hung from brackets, three cab's with drawers for abrasives, fixings, glue, etc., maple lipping to the top with threaded inserts for jigs, etc., etc., etc. All at that ideal time in the future, of course. :lol: Meanwhile, it is one of the best investments I have made and a pleasure to use.

John

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby mrgrimsdale » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:24 am

Is it that these flat surfaces are particularly needed by mdf cabinet makers, which I don't do myself?
If so perhaps talking at cross purposes (again :roll: ).
Bendy stuff mdf, not like real wood!

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby jonnyd » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:35 am

I don't think it's the case of these types of tables of being for mdf. They just help with whatever work your doing be it big architectural joinery or small furniture work. You can set something in the clamps not worry about it being in wind etc you can also check stuff against it as well. There's nothing wrong with a slightly wonky bench I've put up with hem for years but was always compensating for it to being flat adding wedges etc which takes time so having a large flat bench is ideal.

Cheers

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Re: Assembly bench

Postby OryxDesign » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:37 am

mrgrimsdale wrote:Is it that these flat surfaces are particularly needed by mdf cabinet makers, which I don't do myself?
If so perhaps talking at cross purposes (again :roll: ).
Bendy stuff mdf, not like real wood!


Yep maybe.


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