Finish recommendations: large bamboo plywood shelving project

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Forum topic by daveingva posted 05-09-2014 03:30 PM 1288 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2552 days

05-09-2014 03:30 PM


I’m looking for a quick and easy finish for bamboo plywood.

The application is a set of shelves in a wine cellar, so humidity is high (65%) and temperature is low…temp and humidity are stable. Normally these shelves shouldn’t get traffic other than bottles sliding in and out. I suppose a possible broken bottle now and then but hope not.

My main objective is to give the shelves a nicer looking, professional finish although I do not want a thickly coated polyurethane plastic look. The bamboo is so–called caramel colour – so it has had a treatment that darkens the wood a bit over natural bamboo and I guess I’d be happy with the shelves going a bit darker while still revealing the great figure of the bamboo.

I’m asking here because it’s quite a big project – 104 shelves of about 65 cm in width and 15 verticals that are each 2 meters high. Horizontals and verticals are around 30 cm deep so I have LOTS of wood surface to finish.

I do have an HVLP but do not have a spray booth. I could set up for outdoor spraying but I’m a little leery and have a gut feeling it may be considerably more time and work than a quick wipe on finish.

Any thoughts?

Dave M

3 replies so far

View Ted's profile


2845 posts in 2205 days

#1 posted 05-10-2014 07:37 AM

I would think wipe-on poly would suit your needs well. It’s plenty durable and stable, and as a wipe-on it won’t appear thick or plastic.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

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3239 posts in 1983 days

#2 posted 05-10-2014 07:20 PM

My best conversion calculation and guesstimate is that this is the equivalent of about 5 sheets of 4 ft b 8 ft plywood.

When I have had a lot of shelving or cabinets to finish, I typically will roll on the first two coats with a 4 inch wide roller and sand between. I am not familiar with bamboo but would guess that there will be some grain raised after the first coat. You might want to thin the poly very slightly to roll it. As normal with a first coat of finish on raw wood, it will really soak in and take a while to dry/harden.

I know that not many people will recommend rolling poly but it has worked well for me for both water based and mineral spirits based material for first coat or two. It will go fast once you are set up to do it having a good place to roll and racks to put the pieces to dry.

I made very simple racks to hold the pieces up almost vertical using saw horses and notches cut into 6” wide strips of 1/2” plywood. Sorry that I do not have a picture.

I completed a project of upper and lower cabinets in my shop where I used about 20 sheets or 3/4” plywood to make all the sides, back, tops and shelves. I prefinished all of the pieces and then assembled with pocket screws. These were Euro style cabinets without a face frame but a lot of the pieces also had a 1/2” piece of wood to cover the edges of the plywood where needed.

View daveingva's profile


10 posts in 2552 days

#3 posted 05-12-2014 08:41 AM

Thanks both. Redoak I think I can visualize the notched stands you are talking about – thanks its given me a good idea.

Locally here water-based finishes are what’s mostly available and I have also thought I’d like to avoid any potential for off gassing putting compounds into the wine bottles as there is air exchange through and around the corks. I will most likely roll on or wipe on a water based finish and see if there are some products that have a fungicide or are rated for high humidity environments.

Dave M

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