Super Street Network

 |   |   |  DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper

Tricks of the Trade

Scott Tsuneishi
Feb 11, 2014

When I first set up my garage workshop nearly two years ago, I didn't have much time or money to invest, so I just used what resources were available at the time and picked up an old office desk sitting in the backyard. I lined the top with some cardboard and foam to keep it from getting scratched. This simple layout served me well over the years and provided a large surface on which to build projects and assemble engine parts.

DIY aluminum workbench topper workspace 02 Photo 2/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper

To put things lightly, this workbench had the sh*t beat out of it, stained by various chemicals, and more. Eventually, though, the cardboards and foam liners became tattered and torn and required periodic replacement, which became a hassle. Fed up with swapping out the makeshift covers every time I used the table, I upgraded the wood surface by laying an aluminum sheet to create a more durable surface.

DIY aluminum workbench topper 5052 grade aluminum sheet 03 Photo 3/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper 5052 Grade Aluminum Sheet 03

A trip to the local metal supply store netted some 5052-grade aluminum (48x144 inches) sheet for the reasonable price of $60. We could have gone with 6061 or stainless, but the prices were more than three times the price of our 5052 aluminum. The fullsize sheet was cut to my desired specs at the store before hauling it back home in my Civic. Keep in mind that aluminum sheets made of 3003 or 5052 thinner gauge thickness are cheaper when purchased in bulk, but softer than steel so it will develop gouges and scuff up easier. Another option is to cover your workbench with galvanized sheetmetal; it is harder than 6061 and has a good shine too.

DIY aluminum workbench topper 04 Photo 4/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper

Will I actually care if there are scratches under all that? Not really. The heaviest thing that we've ever put on the workbench is an aluminum cylinder head. It's good for certain things; it stays clean, doesn't rust, and stays flat. It does, however, make it hard to slide anything heavy on it; magnets don't stick to it and you can't tack anything to it, making it a trade-off.

DIY aluminum workbench topper edge bending 05 Photo 5/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper
DIY aluminum workbench topper edge bending 06 Photo 6/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper

It's not easy to get nice edges and bends with handtools, but with a little bit of patience, you can get the edges to fold over fairly nice using a rubber or plastic hammer.

DIY aluminum workbench topper acetone 07 Photo 7/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper Acetone 07

We secured the sheet using some 3M double-side adhesive before wiping down the surface with some acetone.

DIY aluminum workbench topper 08 Photo 8/8   |   DIY Aluminum Workbench Topper

Looking clean!

By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE HOW TO

The VR6 engine was love at first sight, or sound, but we found ourselves loving the entire VW Passat in a short time.
Michael FebboSep 18, 2017
The name Modified should conjure up thoughts of our old sister magazine but it is also the name of our new video series.
Jofel TolosaSep 11, 2017
For any proper tuning timeline, suspension is one of the first things addressed.
Jofel TolosaSep 8, 2017
Just bought a used hooptie off of Craigslist? Make sure to cover a few bases to keep any expensive problems from popping up.
Aaron BonkSep 7, 2017
Aftermarket products to modernize your vehicle
RodrezSep 2, 2017
Sponsored Links

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP