Q: I’m making my first workbench and want some advice on which wood to use for the top. I like ash and it’s readily available where I live. Would it be a good choice? Tory Matheson, None A: Select a wood for a benchtop based on five criteria: color, hardness, stability, ease of handplaning, and pore size. First, choose a light-color wood, like maple, because it reflects light better and makes it easier to see your work. And because benches take abuse, the harder the better. A wood that’s dimensionally stable moves less, so you won’t need to flatten it as often. But you will need to flatten it eventually, so choose a wood that’s easy to plane. Ash has open pores that can collect dust, dirt, and grime, which can dull a plane blade very quickly when you are flattening the top. I’d use hard maple, soft maple (not really soft, actually), or beech.
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