The Fresh Loaf

A Community of 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

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.


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.


Peternumnums's picture

I know its an old post but on the off chance.

I do wish I had been able to offer advice then. 

I hope you went with Purebond. They have a food safe plywood (no formaldehyde).

I was looking into butcherblock countertops and almost spent $2500 for an 8x4 ft 1.5 inch when I remembered Purebond prefinished maple plywood I bought for making proofing boards for the same reason. 

Anyways, for the table top I'm going to use the same x2 with a food safe glue. 

I'll boarder it wil 1x 4 maple and build the base out cheap 2x4's I'll finish myself to make it look good. 

Maple is food safe and has non-porous properties so It should be ok. 

I might use 3 plywood boards so its heavy using another cheaper purebond plywood underneath the maple. 

Has anyone tried this? Be good to know if there is anything I should do to make sure the table lasts when finishing. 


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

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.