Bamboo for bench top.

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Forum topic by muleskinner posted 11-21-2011 05:16 AM 3413 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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926 posts in 2674 days

11-21-2011 05:16 AM

I’m thinking about (the final stage of many of my projects) a decent woodworking bench. Hardwoods of any volume are rather precious in this neck of the woods so construction will most likely be of Doug fir. For a nice hard top I’m wondering if layer of bamboo would be acceptable. The engineered flooring is cheap. What are the downsides?

-- Visualize whirled peas

8 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3235 days

#1 posted 11-21-2011 05:49 AM

Well, flat and tough as nails. Can’t see a problem myself.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3886 days

#2 posted 11-21-2011 06:29 AM

workbenches are usually built from whatevr is available locally and cheap… as long as you can keep the top flat you should be good to go.

how thick are the flooring you are planning to use (you can attach them to a plywood sublayer much like installing floors)?

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

View muleskinner's profile


926 posts in 2674 days

#3 posted 11-21-2011 06:51 AM

Lev, the stuff I’ve looked at is 1/2 or maybe 5/8 t and g. I’m picturing it laid on top of a slab of 2×4’s on edge.

David, that’s kinda what I’m thinking. I’m just wondering how it reacts to impacts. Would it chip or split from an errant hammer?

-- Visualize whirled peas

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3886 days

#4 posted 11-21-2011 06:59 AM

muleskinner – since this is engineered material, I would advice AGAINST laying it on top of a slab of 2×4 on edge. the 2×4 on edge will experience seasonal movements while the engineered material will NOT which will create stresses between the 2 and might cause them to detach from one another or blow outs in your top.

If you are to use engineered material, you should stick to it all the way, and layer it on top of another engineered material (plywood) base – much like wood flooring. as long as you lay it down properly you shouldnt have any issues with it, but bamboo IS a splintery material to work with – be careful with that.

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

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2763 days

#5 posted 11-21-2011 07:09 AM

I’ve been using some scrap bamboo flooring for all kinds of projects this past year: sled runners, clamping cauls, spacers on my box joint jig… and as flooring, too! After working with it a bit, I would feel comfortable using it as a bench top, in fact it is a great idea that I hadn’t even considered, and might end up trying myself :)
Bamboo does split nicely once you get a good wedge going through it, but I don’t think that hammer blows would cause this, it will simply dent waaaay before it chips or splits. Driving a chisel in about 1/4” deep and parallel to the grain could start a split, but I think that would be pretty hard to do accidentally.
Perhaps go out to a flooring store and ask for a sample, take it home and beat it around in the shop for a bit.

-- Jesse --

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3312 days

#6 posted 11-21-2011 04:09 PM

My bench top is made with bamboo flooring and I think it is great. It is very hard and durable.

You can see a picture in my workshop on this site. The picture is when it was new. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and it has held up well.

The only downside I can think of is that you really need to cover the edges. You will see that I ran oak around the perimeter of my table. You don’t need anything as heavy and bulky as I used, but you need something to cover up the edges.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3160 days

#7 posted 11-21-2011 05:19 PM

There are two kinds of bamboo flooring. One has strands parallel to the floor (horizontal), the other has strands perpendicular to the floor (vertical). Which kind are you guys using?

Did you nail it down? A lot of the bamboo flooring is designed to “float”. Presumably that wouldn’t work for a bench top.

Any issues with dog holes using multiple materials? One downside I can see with this is that you pretty much would be forced to drill dog holes in place, rather than, for example, the idea of drilling the dog holes in the (vertical) 2×4s before laminating them.

View muleskinner's profile


926 posts in 2674 days

#8 posted 11-21-2011 08:31 PM

Yeah Rich, that’s pretty much what I had in mind. Wrapping was already in the equation if only for an excuse to play around with some joinery.

Jesse, I like the idea of using it for runners and such.

Thanks to all.

-- Visualize whirled peas

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