The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

plywood kneading board…?

typeizcrazy's picture

plywood kneading board…?

Hello all, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of forums for beginner soba makers so I thought I'd post my question up here since my question pertains to equipment we both have in common. I need a large kneading area and I was thinking of purchasing a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood and cutting it to the required size (4'x4').My concern is whether the adhesives that hold the plywood together would potential contaminate my dough as I knead it?Are there any "food safe" plywood boards out there? Thanks in advance.


nbicomputers's picture

i would not use ply  not because of the glue but because it is a soft wood anf could spilnter and it will absorbe a lot of water from the dough and get softer.

better would be a hard wood that was plained smoth or even better bucher block

that is what most work benches are made of that is before steel tables came to be

CarlSF's picture

I would not use plywood because it contains formaldyhyde!!  As previously mentioned...butcher's block is an ideal choice.

Kuret's picture

I whould be concerned about splinters coming loose from the ply board.  Do you have IKEA around? They sell wood countertops quite cheaply, I might even buy one myself if I get the space to put it somewhere.
Swdish IKEA:

typeizcrazy's picture

thanks for the advice. I was so centred around the idea of plywood I never thought of IKEA. I do have one in my neck of the woods.

Going back to the plywood, though. If i weere to by a hardwood sheet that would do, yes?

suave's picture

If you want to go with plywood, then I think the best way is to glue 1/4" oak-top plywood on top of regular 3/4" sheet, then cut to size and treat with oil.  It's is going to be sturdy, resilient and rather pretty. Unless you're the type who threw out his Nalgene bottle I wouldn't worry too much about glue leaching into your dough. 


typeizcrazy's picture

thanks mike.

no, not a big, insanely neurotic sanity guy. But since I'm working with food I thought some sanity should be adhered to. Thanks for the oak plywood idea.

Now I just have to source the wood.


mcs's picture

Of course you could go with a birch or oak 3/4" plywood (4x8 sheet for around $50) or here's another idea.  Use regular 3/4 ply for the base and cover it with unfinished 1x4 hardwood (maple) t&g flooring.  You could glue them to your  plywood and nail them through the tongues so they don't separate.  You'd have more options in flooring for woods like cherry too at around $5/s.f.  Then get some oil and it'd look like a butcherblock table.
This is just an example of more selection in flooring woods- of course you'd need 'select' grade if you want it real smooth and knotless.


Jimeats's picture

I have an antique kneading or commonly known as a bread board. I also have a bread board that is part of my Hoosier cabinet.

I don't use either of them, but I do use my regular cutting board often for kneading.

I just wash it down with some distilled vinegar before working the dough on it. So it serves two purposes without adding something else to a crouded kitchen.

I also have an old trencher that I've been known to use, that works great and it's a nice presentation piece for a table. Jim

typeizcrazy's picture

Thanks for all the input everyone.

I went out and bought a 1/2 inch sheet of maple plywood, painter grade. It's smooth and I think will  make a great kneading board.

Again thanks for all the advice.


tmfun's picture

First, I wouldn't be comfortable useing plywood of any kind to knead bread on.  God knows what chemicals were used to build it, however, a simple solution, since you already have the plywood, you could glue a sheet of Formica to it which I think would make it safe and easy to clean.  Also, if you didn't get exterior grade plywood, don't get it too wet as it will de laminate.


My two pennies worth.


meryl's picture

I too am trying to decide between a wood kneading surface and a silicone one.

 Hamleman said that dough must have friction to develop a skin on the dough. But the silicone is non-stick if I understand it.

 Can someone who has used silpats and wood indicate there experience? I'll be using it mostly for bread doughs, standard and wetter hydrations.


KosherBaker's picture

Hi Meryl.

At the end of the day the silicone surface might work, although there are better kneading mediums out there. In the past I've used wood, and at the moment I use a small marble board. Both work great and marble is a cinch to clean. Whatever you do, don't introduce plywood into your food rotation. Much like flooring tiles there is no way of telling how many toxins these products contain. And it seems tome that using them in the kitchen to save $5 to $10 isn't really worth it.

My TFL Blog Page

AtlantaTerry's picture

Meryl: You wrote, "dough must have friction to develop a skin on the dough".

If that's true why do some recipes call for the ball of dough to be placed in an oiled bowl to rise? Or oiled loaf pans to bake?

Terry Thomas...
the photographer (and bread baker)
Atlanta, Georgia USA


AtlantaTerry's picture


Absoulely NOT plywood. As other people here have mentioned: it's too soft and will splinter plus the glue has nasty chemicals.

I got a very nice bread board from Ikea for something like USD $8 or USD $10.

But as a long-time bread baker let me make a suggestion: get a nice slab of marble. It stays cool and does not pick up moisture like a wood surface does.

A quick and inexpensive surface is Formica. You can get some at a home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowes in the USA. Often you can get them to sell you a piece at a discounted price which is cracked or even has a corner broken off then simply cut it down to size.

A tip to keep your bread board from sliding around your countertop as you knead: simply put a lightly damp cloth between the board and countertop. The friction will keep the bread board in place. (I think I learned that from James Beard's book "Beard on Bread".)

Terry Thomas...
the photographer (and bread baker)
Atlanta, Georgia USA


leocwa's picture

3/4 particle board comes with a melamine finish impervious to water

tananaBrian's picture

I think you mean MDF (medium-density-something or other), the fine particle board stuff that has the hard white finish on it.  That should be fine I think and no risk of eggs/oil/butter soaking into it only to become rancid or infected.  Marble would be the cat's meow, but heavy when cut to a 4' by 4' size.  The white MDF would be easy to move and store.



davidg618's picture

The hard white surface applied to Medium Density Fiberboard is Melomine Resin, a hard plastic made by polymerizing melomine and formaldehyde.  and it is used to make tableware, Formica, and other kitchen articles. It is a thermoset plastic. The resin is apparently food safe, Dinnerware made from melomine resin has been sold since the 1950's and continues being sold. The recent food scare from melomine (one of the components of the resin) in pet food manufactured in China apparently doesn't apply to the melomine resin.

I don't know if the melomine resin coated MDF sold in building material stores is food safe, but I've bought and used a lot of it for non-food related workshop bench tops, and there was no food warning label attached. It seems to me, since the stuff likely is used in homebuilt kitchen counter tops, there would be if it were food unsafe.

I'm not advocating using it, but I thought you might like to know what the white coating on MDF is.

David G

AtlantaTerry's picture


What is particle board but sawdust and glue? Ick!  

As you say it may have a Melamine finish, but is that something you would want to hand down to future generations like a well-worn kneading board or marble? Most likely it would not last that long. That's because once water gets to the particle board it starts to dissolve.

Did you know that the word "Ikea" is Scandanavian for particle board? It's true. :-)

Seriously, don't waste your time with particle board, do as others have suggested and get a nice hardwood kneading board or butcher block board or my suggestion, a nice slab of marble. Now, these are objects that will serve future generations long after we have become dust.

Terry Thomas...
the photographer (and bread baker)
Atlanta, Georgia USA


mredwood's picture

I too thought I would use plywood sometime long before I found this web site and wonderful people to ask. I bought 1/2 inch maple and sanded it very smooth. I also put a 2 inch back on it so the flour wouldn't go off the back. It was a Good Idea That Didn't Work. It seemed like it was perfect for a while. Then I noticed some light tan pieces in my white dough. Upon closer examination i realized that tiny pieces of the wood was coming off in the dough. That was the end of that. I bought a proofing board from SFBI and it was the best money I ever spent. Also this board has two sides that are usable and is rather light weight so it is not cumbersome to move.

The maple board did not go to waste. Since it had lip on it it actually spanned the space between the wall and the refrigerator. I store my peel, proofing board and cooing racks on top of the fridge. The maple keeps them from falling down the space between the wall & fridge and my large crock with my rolling pins keeps the whole smear from sliding. 


LapLap's picture

This is the only place I've ever seen anyone advocate using a flat surface area for kneading flours for soba. 

In Japan a specific utensil called a konebachi こね鉢 is called for. It has a wide surface area with curved sides designed to help one ensure that the water is evenly distributed to the flour.  When choosing a surface to coax and encourage the soba flour to coalesce together you may want to consider how much moisture it might be absorbing.  The process of adding water to the flour frenetically 'scratching' at it with fingertips to get it to form 'breadcrumbs' and then cajoling these together into a whole before forming into cones and balls seems like it would be too tricky without the helpful sides of a bowl.  

Much as I'd love to own a wooden konebachi (not all are lacquered) I make do with a very large and shallow metal bowl.  A bench and wooden surface I need for rolling and cutting once all the kneading is done. Hopefully typizcrazy has found their own satisfactory method.