I want to build a bench with a 450mm overhang from the legs (long story why I need the overhang, and I already have the legs which are heavy duty steel monsters). The bench will not hold anything heavy, but I want it to be very sturdy and last a long time.

Having a look at the local timber yard, my easiest options seem to be Pine, Oak, and FormPly.

What thickness do I need for a 2100mm by 600mm bench, with 450mm overhangs from the legs on each end? Should I run a batten underneath it? What size? Any batten have to be near the back of the bench.

Also, what varnish/paint should I choose that is hard wearing? I'd like it to be very dark (almost black would be ideal).

  • indoor or outdoor?
    – DA01
    Oct 21, 2012 at 21:51
  • @DA01 Indoor, but I'd like durability similar to that of an outdoor bench. Oct 21, 2012 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Ok, I did the metric to inches conversions so I understand the size of your project. Sure wish the USA would go metric like the rest of the civilized world. LOL.

Your bench is going to be apx 7 foot by 2 foot with 17 inch overhangs. I think you will find that a solid stable material like 20 mm (3/4inch) plywood, medium density fiberboard (MDF) or solid boards will work well if the load is not too heavy. Avoid materials like cheap chip or particle board because they have a tendency to warp easily if not secured to a sub-straight. Because the surface is not real smooth, they don't look great when painted.

If you want to be sure the unsupported overhangs don't curl or distort, you could frame under the exposed sections with an extra parameter rim of say, 2 to 3 inch by 3/4" solid stock mounted flat under the overhang. This would effectively make the overhang 1 1/2 inch (38mm) thick.

Use a good grade stain blocking primer and finish your project with a couple of coats of quality enamel paint.

  • How well does MDF handle moisture? Oct 21, 2012 at 15:44
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    With 17 inch overhang I would go so far as to recommend making the whole top out of two thicknesses of 20 mm (3/4inch) plywood that are glued together. If you are looking to make a finished look without using paint then you may want to look toward using the oak. Nothing says "sturdy" more than a thick top of nice hardwood.
    – Michael Karas
    Oct 21, 2012 at 16:42
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    MDF does not handle moisture well. Is this bench intended for the outdoors? Oct 21, 2012 at 17:00
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    MDF takes paint very well, so after primer + paint an occasional spill wouldn't be a problem. If you are looking to hose it down, wood would be better. Oct 22, 2012 at 1:52
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    @AbhiBeckert - If the oak does not break your budget then by all means use it. Also consider searching on the web for premade table tops of maple wood tops. These can be found with thickness of 1.5 inches and make awesome tops for benches and tables that look fantastic. The cost of these maple tops is really not too bad.
    – Michael Karas
    Oct 29, 2012 at 8:31

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