Bamboo plywood

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Forum topic by ShawnH posted 01-09-2010 08:36 PM 13328 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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90 posts in 4075 days

01-09-2010 08:36 PM

Have any of you used bamboo plywood? I just watched an old WW podcast with Kaleo Kala. I went to his website and found he uses a lot of bamboo plywood. I just did a quick search and it is quite beautiful and a sustainable product. But I found that a 3/4 4×8 sheet is 230 per sheet. Is this how much it runs? Who could afford it? Just curious about this and anyones experience.

-- ShawnH "In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

27 replies so far

View Richard's profile


113 posts in 3415 days

#1 posted 01-09-2010 09:48 PM

I have wondered the same. I thought because it grows so fast that it would be cheaper and easier to get a hold of. But it ain’t. I bought some bamboo “bricks” to make a back splash in my kitchen I will try and find the site I purchased them at and post a link.

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4077 days

#2 posted 01-09-2010 10:23 PM

Sustainable yes but hardly green. Consider the shipping costs including CO2. It is no wonder that it is expensive when you take that and the manufacturing process into account. Beautiful stuff, hard and I like the colors. Wish the US had a local source.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 3488 days

#3 posted 01-09-2010 11:07 PM

I haven’t used the plywood sheets, they are way too pricey for me, but I have used the 1 1/2” butcher block material, 2 years ago I could get a 4’ x 8’ piece in caramel for 375$ which to me was very reasonable. I couldn’t do Formica counter tops for that price.

I saved the cutouts for making cutting boards. Its great stuff and fairly easy to maintain. Mineral oil with a little paraffin wax blended together, seals the pores and enhances the color. I installed this counter top around a slide-in range, and so far in 2 + years, no call backs, and last I saw was still looking like new.

The supplier carried both natural and the caramel colors of the butcher block as well as most thicknesses of the plywood in both colors. My Bluelinx distributor carries it, but I can’t recall who the manufacture is.

-- James

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3131 days

#4 posted 01-10-2010 12:02 AM

We did a big job in our shop last year with bamboo, and had about 200 sheets shipped direct from China. Sorry, but I don’t know what the cost was.

-- Gerry,

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3143 days

#5 posted 01-10-2010 12:30 AM

Hey, this topic has given me a little hope. About a year and a half ago I installed about 1600 sf of bamboo flooring. 3/4 TandG and I saved all the scraps. This stuff is heavy as heck and I had no idea if I could even use it, but now I’m going to have to do a little experimenting.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Robert Kimmell's profile

Robert Kimmell

5 posts in 3064 days

#6 posted 01-11-2010 03:28 AM

There is a company in Portland, OR. I was quotes 155 per sheet.

View Kaleo's profile


201 posts in 4139 days

#7 posted 01-21-2010 03:35 AM

it’s been a real long time since I have been on this site. I used a product called Plyboo. It did run about 220 a sheet. Which is pricey, but I used it for a specific piece catering to a specific clientele. It’s great stuff, dimensionally stable and works well. The only thing I noticed was that it smelled funny when I cut it on the table saw. But I am use to the smell of plywood and other solid timbers. Give it a go and try it out, you’ll like it I bet.


-- Kaleo ,

View rdlaurance's profile


367 posts in 3346 days

#8 posted 01-21-2010 09:36 PM

My brother recently finished some bamboo cabinets for our mother’s kitchen.
The look and color of the wood (or grass?) is really great!

bamboo cabinets

-- Rick, south Sweden

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4099 days

#9 posted 01-21-2010 09:41 PM

I made a sofa table out of bamboo plywood. It was for an architectural firm that had a “green exhibition” at the local art museum.

The material was quite expensive as I recall but what I used was given to me. The problem that I had with it was that it would not lay flat. It had a good warp to it.

I was told by the supplier that cabinet shops were making cabinets and doors out of it but I am not sure how the shops were getting the doors to stay flat. I was turned off to the product of plywood because of this but I have bought veneer and done my own veneered panels and had great success with it.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Heidi Neely's profile

Heidi Neely

550 posts in 3174 days

#10 posted 01-21-2010 10:00 PM

Hi Shawn,
My BF Keith (fellow LJ, kolwdwrkr) works with bamboo ply ALL the time, so he can probably give you a wealth of information on the subject. The shop he’s been working at (it’s CALLED Laguna Bamboo, lol!) specializes in bamboo cabinetry for kitchens and baths, and besides that he’s started doing some of his own personal hobby projects with it as well. You should message him.

I help out at the shop from time to time, and all I can tell you on the subject is that whenever I touch the stuff (either to sand it, or edgeband it, or what have you) I get nasty splinters! The fibers are really strong and sharp, and go in deep. OUCH!!

-- Heidi :) “The only source of knowledge is experience”

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Heidi Neely

550 posts in 3174 days

#11 posted 01-21-2010 10:07 PM

OOps….I JUST noticed that notottoman already posted a link directing you to one of Keith’s blogs reguarding bamboo ply….so, there ya go! he,he,he! ; )

-- Heidi :) “The only source of knowledge is experience”

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4099 days

#12 posted 01-22-2010 05:09 AM

I too have noticed the splinter issue.

I would say that even though I had a less than positive experience with it, I realize that it may have been isolated to the particular manufacturer or distributor and would try it again.

I am partial to the looks of bamboo.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3648 days

#13 posted 01-22-2010 05:37 AM

I was planing a project with bamboo plywood but had to drop it when I got the quotes for the price per sheet.

it’s supposedly an endless self-regenerating material (actually it’s a weed, and once it grows, is pretty much impossible to kill/eliminate and will spread around wherever it can) but I guess the process to make it into plywood makes it very expensive (it’s not really plywood – most sheets are just a lamination of thin strips when you look at it). it’s also supposedly hard on tools and blades.

I was quoted ~$200 per 1/2” sheet (4’x8’)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3590 days

#14 posted 01-22-2010 07:15 AM

I am currently writing a blog on bamboo for the company I am working with. We are trying to form some sort of partnership between my company and his, although we are both unsure how we want to proceed, especially since it is a slow time. With the lack of work everyone has been layed off, and I have been asked to finish up the current job at half my cost. I am hoping the blog generates some leads, as well as produces some education to our prospective clients. The blog is here:
I am also writing a blog for my company, just because my phone is still somewhat ringing. You can see it here:

I have made probably 6 kitchens, several bathrooms, and some miscellaneous things, like bowls, boxes, etc. My experience so far is that it is a nice stable material. Seems easy to work, although it does dull cutters. The material is essentially called plywood because it is layers. Normally 3. The front and back layers are about 3/16. The center is around 3/8 or so. The benefit to this is that the outerlayer is very thick, so the fear of sanding through is eliminated. The material sands nicely. Because it is essentially straws, when cutting the splinters are gruesome. They are very fine, stiff, and sharp.
You can also get solid bamboo sheet goods in the same sizes, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 etc. It is not as stable as the 3 ply, and runs about the same cost. The cost in my opinion is based off of your relationship with the company you purchase for. For instance, we will buy 10 sheets at a time, and can do so for ~160 for 3/4” 3 ply. The prices are high here in the US because it is not a widely used material, so the demand is low, making prices higher. It seems like a luxury material, even though it really isn’t. In time the material will be fairly expensive, as soon as the demand for it rises and it becomes as common as say maple or alder.
As far as design goes, I feel that it can only be used for modern contemporary designs. So flat panels, inlay work, etc all look great. But I haven’t seen any detailed crowns, raised panels, carving, etc and in my opinion its because the glue lines show. For the most part, China supplies most of the bamboo used in the US as sheet goods. There seems to be glue on the surface because of poor manufacturing from China, but some companies do a good job eleviating that. It does sand right off.

My opinion of bamboo is that it’s good for those who want to go green, although there’s controversy there as well. It’s not the most affordable material, and the designs are limited to the imagination and budget. Even though I have had some fun with it, I don’t particularly like it enough to make it a focus of mine. I think I’m more traditional, whereas I like to see carvings, arches, routed detailing, etc. But I’m sure with the right imagination, the sky is the limit.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View mac34's profile


6 posts in 3087 days

#15 posted 01-22-2010 11:26 PM

If you use bamboo faced plywood, be very careful not to use an orbital sander or do any sanding across the grain. It will rupture the fibers and destroy the panel beyond repair.

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