Bamboo Material Page

Everything you wanted to know about bamboo and hopefully more

What is a Bamboo desk-top?

Firstly we need to start with the base material. Bamboo is a grass and not a wood and as such has slightly different properties than wood. Many but not all Bamboo grass has a hollow stem through which water passes. It has no real branches and there are no knots in the product. As the Bamboo grows it leaves horizontal rings as witness marks called nodes. When making a bamboo product it is the wall of the bamboo which is used. This is hard and wooden in feel and behaviour. As the nodes grow in the bamboo wall they are visible on the surface of the product. The wall in itself cannot provide a single piece of bamboo from which to make a top so in order to make a bamboo desk-top the bamboo is cut lengthwise into strands and then the strands are aligned to make a single layer. Multiple layers are then placed on on top of another to make a complete desk-top. Between the strands of each layer there is glue and between each layer there is also glue. In many respects it is almost like Bamboo ply which is often a name used for the material. The boards are 19mm total thickness.

What modifications can be made to the desk-top?

Our Bamboo desk-tops are made in the temperate Bamboo forests of Eastern China and we receive them in the UK to net shape. Taking this basic rectangular shape we can make two modifications using our CNC machine shown below.

1. We can round the corners of the desk-top. Some clients prefer this look and it gives a softer feel to the desk.

2. We can make a cut-out at the rear of the desk. This means if mounting a monitor arm the desk can still be positioned relatively flush to a wall or another desk.

Both these modifications are available in the configurator and both processes are highly repeatable and well controlled to a tolerance of +/-0.1mm.

Once this process is finished we are left with a board the correct size however the edges still need some extra treatment to bring them up to furniture grade.  

So how do you protect the top?

Our tops are all lacquered with 2 coats of matt furniture lacquer which will provide protection against the ingress of moisture and dirt. However the desk-top will still be prone to damage to either the edges or the surface so care should be taken against mechanical damage in these areas. Bamboo is as hard as solid wood however if you do drop an object onto the top you will leave a witness mark or dent so be careful. The top can be re-sanded in a given spot but as it is lacquered you will get some colour variation afterwards. You can re-sand the whole top and re-lacquer it.


OK so how do I look after the top?

Pretty simple. Keep it clean and dry. If you need to wipe it use a damp cloth with a mild degergent. The top will not have good impact resistance to the edges and corners specifically. So be careful. Also be mindful not to drop any heavy objects onto the top which will likely dent it.

What about the environment? Are the tops environmentally friendly?

Oh yes. Bamboo is incredibly environmentally friendly. It grows really quickly - 1m/day in some cases - and as it is a grass the forests are not easily depleted. If anything the species is considered invasive and cutting it controls the Bamboo forest area. The only downside is the number of sea miles it takes to have it arrive in Europe but this is unavoidable.

Being well made the top if looked after should last for a lifetime. This is important given the resources that have gone into making it. At end of life it can be chipped and live again as chipboard or particle board.

Taken as a whole Bamboo is a very green material as the base material comes from sustainable sources. It is more ecologically friendly than unmanaged or slow grown solid wood and substantially moreso than MDF which uses urea-formaldehyde during processing and which can out-gas in situ after manufacture.