The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Particle board top work table vs maple top?

Kevin Soviero's picture
Kevin Soviero

Particle board top work table vs maple top?

I'm looking into getting a dedicated work table for working with dough and only dough. It will never come into contact with anything sharper than a bench scraper. My regular countertops are granite and it makes working with even relatively dry doughs a horrible experience. 

What I'm trying to decide is between particle board tables like this: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/H-1135-WOOD/Industrial-Packing-Tables/Industrial-Packing-Table-60-x-30-Composite-Wood-Top

And maple top tables like this: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/H-1135-MAP/Industrial-Packing-Tables/Industrial-Packing-Table-60-x-30-Maple-Top-with-Rounded-Edge 

(Bear in mind, those aren't the exact ones I'd get, just good examples I found after a quick Google search.)

Now, I'm sure maple is objectively better, but is it 39.13% better? 

Thanks!

 ETA: Just so everyone knows, I plan to treat whatever I get like a cutting board. Sand the surface to get rid of any factory stuff, then treat with mineral oil and board conditioner. 

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

My biggest concern would be what the top is coated with.

There appears to be some sort of coating on both tops to protect the surface. Even with a bench scraper, the coating will (eventually) chip and get into your dough. If the coating's not food safe, that's not a good thing to be getting into your body.

What issues are you having with granite? We have granite counter tops and for me at least, they work well for baking.

Kevin Soviero's picture
Kevin Soviero

It just sticks a lot more than wood in my opinion. With enough oil it works, but if you're trying to make a traditional french boule, it can be a pain. 

As far as the surface, those were just example, but regardless, I plan to sand it down to actual wood and treat it with mineral oil and board conditioner as if it were a cutting board. 

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

I think granite could work if you adjust your technique, but the sealant will be slowly pulled off and into your dough. My counter is a very hard, slick, artificial stone resin stuff, which works great. Otherwise I'd go with uncoated/unfinished maple or other hardwood.

You don't want varnished/finished wood because the bench scraper will remove the finish. The only circumstance I could see the particle board working would be if you installed a glass top on it. 

BernardH's picture
BernardH

Not wanting to use my kitchen counter top for working with dough I bought a plastic chopping board: https://www.cooksmill.co.uk/kitchen/food-prep-tools/chefs-tools/accessories/high-density/high-density-chopping-board-white-45-x-30-x-12mm.html. To my surprise it turned out the lightly textured surface is ideal. Without flouring it grips the dough without sticking.The slightest dusting of flour is sufficient if I want the dough to move around easily. And it's easy to clean.

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

Hi Kevin,

I think granite could work if you adjust your technique, but I also think the sealant will be slowly pulled off and into your dough. My counter is a very hard, slick, artificial stone resin stuff (like Corian but harder) which works great. Otherwise I'd go with uncoated/unfinished maple or other hardwood, or stainless steel, or concrete, or Corian. Or get a really big slab-style cutting-board work surface and set it on your counter.

In my opinion, you don't want varnished/coated wood because the bench scraper will remove the finish. The only circumstance I could see the particle board working would be if you installed a glass top on it or set a cutting board slab on top of it. 

Good luck and happy baking!

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

I don't know if it still is, but particle board used to be made with formaldehyde. Just checked and a google search says it still is. I'd go for maple, as it's a more pure wood. With particle board, I'd be afraid of when it chips and gets into the dough, you'd be eating formaldehyde. That would not be good.

Always remember, the sweetness of low price is long forgotten while the bitter taste of poor quality lingers on.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

choose maple.  The particle board will eventually degrade back to sawdust; faster if it absorbs any moisture. 

As for the maple, unfinished is best although you can dress it with mineral oil to improve its moisture resistance. 

Paul

suminandi's picture
suminandi

I love my maple butcher block table. It’s very durable- I’ve been chopping vegetables on it for over 25 years and it has a fine patina with no gauges. I have a “dough work corner”. Easy to sanitize by scrubbing down with salt or a dilute bleach solution.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Kevin, maple is 100% better than particle board over mdf  (which is what it says in the link under details )  Wood in general will swell with moisture. For manufactured wood products, like mdf or particle board, not only will it swell, the glue and the sawdust that was used to make the product will separate and the product will disintegrate.

Maple or any solid wood will not want to be wet, but it won't disintegrate unless you get it very wet and let it stay that way a while.   Particle Board and MDF will disintegrate with far less exposure to moisture, and using a high hydration dough would probably cause that pretty quickly.  Once it starts to deteriorate, wood fibers and old glue will get into the dough, not a good thing.

As to how to finish the solid wood surface,  all finishes are food safe once fully cured.  http://www.woodcentral.com/articles/finishing/articles_497a.shtml

Maple is a good choice, since it is pretty hard, but there are other solid woods that are good choices as well.  You may want to check with your local Home Depot or Lowes to see what a custom length of solid wood countertop would cost.  

 

 

barriehiebread's picture
barriehiebread

Hi Kevin,  agreed on the posts before this one regarding the materials used in the construction of the particle board etc.  I'd go with maple.  It's a 'greener' solution and most likely healthier.

Barrie

Dalia's picture
Dalia

For cleanliness why not get a stainless top?