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Bamboo Ply Cabinets

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Who here has used bamboo ply for their cabinets? I am going to use bamboo plywood from calibamboo and I was hoping to get some first hand experience. I am building a kitchen galley (42 inch wide), a separate fridge cabinet (20 inch wide), and some upper cabinets. I am not planning on using aluminum extrusion

So far I have only built cabinets with 3/4 inch ply but due to the high strength and density of bamboo I am wondering if I could get away with using 1/2 plywood for all the cabinets. Has anyone here had experience with this? I'd love to know your thoughts!
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We are experimenting with a fresh-cut set of 1/2" Bamboo Ply cabinets in the shop over the past few weeks. We've assembled them and finished them with a polyurethane coat and they seem solid, if not quite as solid as our usual 1/2" Baltic Birch. We haven't hung them up yet.
I wonder why they wouldn’t be quite as solid as birch. The ply is even denser I believe. Do you pocketscrew everything?
 

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I've used 1/2" bamboo ply for cabinet ends (attached to 80/20) in the past.

It was fine but I'd be careful with your choice of sealant. I found that the bamboo ply was much more susceptible to drying out and bowing with extreme temperature changes when compared to 1/2" or even 1/4" Baltic birch. We're in the mountains so we can have a 30 degree night and a 70 degree day quite often.

I wouldn't recommend using 1/2" bamboo ply for larger pieces but it was fine for smaller trim when it can be attached in multiple spots.
 

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Ken from OurKaravan has a beautiful, very well designed bamboo interior.

Back in 2019 (pre-COVID!!!) when we were optimistic that we would receive a 2020 van, I had placed an order for bamboo from Cali Bamboo. I worked with a salesman named Ryan, and he was excellent. After two years of Ford delays, he finally agreed to give us a FULL refund of our deposit, which was pretty astonishing. I definitely plan to source bamboo from him if we ever get a van. We're currently waiting on our 4th van order.

FWIW, the samples that I received from Cali Bamboo were a perfect match to the samples from Adventure Wagon.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've used 1/2" bamboo ply for cabinet ends (attached to 80/20) in the past.

It was fine but I'd be careful with your choice of sealant. I found that the bamboo ply was much more susceptible to drying out and bowing with extreme temperature changes when compared to 1/2" or even 1/4" Baltic birch. We're in the mountains so we can have a 30 degree night and a 70 degree day quite often.

I wouldn't recommend using 1/2" bamboo ply for larger pieces but it was fine for smaller trim when it can be attached in multiple spots.
Interesting, I will need to make sure its good and sealed then. Do you have a recommended sealant. This talk about warping is making me think 3/4 for the cabinets might be simpler...
 

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I found that the bamboo ply was much more susceptible to drying out and bowing with extreme temperature changes when compared to 1/2" or even 1/4" Baltic birch. We're in the mountains so we can have a 30 degree night and a 70 degree day quite often.
Ack! We plan to use our van in the exact same conditions with the exact same temperature swings. Would you mind elaborating? This is the first time that I've heard someone with firsthand experience mention these issues. Would it be better to not seal the bamboo at all? Where did you source your bamboo?
 

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Ack! We plan to use our van in the exact same conditions with the exact same temperature swings. Would you mind elaborating? This is the first time that I've heard someone with firsthand experience mention these issues. Would it be better to not seal the bamboo at all? Where did you source your bamboo?
I'm in South Lake Tahoe, CA and had to drive down to Stockton, CA where I picked up a single sheet of 3/4" and four sheets of 1/2" bamboo plywood. 5 hours round trip but around here, at that time, if you wanted bamboo plywood that's where you needed to get it lol.

The drying out and bowing was only an issue with the small cabinet ends that I made. The larger wheel well boxes pictured are also 1/2" bamboo ply and had no issues expanding or bowing at all even though both examples were mounted to 80/20. I would bet that a large piece of 1/2" bamboo (i.e. cabinet door) that's basically free-standing other than the hinges that hold it to the frame, would warp very badly with temperature swings.

The sealant that I used was something off the shelf at our local store which I try and avoid but I thought I could get away with something less-specific than what I actually needed. I'm sorry that I can't recommend a sealant and I can't remember what lousy substitute I used. That van saw a lot of moisture so we sealed every piece of wood in there.

The 3/4" bamboo ply didn't/hasn't warped at all in my shop when laid flat. The 1/2" sheet of bamboo ply in my shop laying flat bowed up with temperature swings.

I think 1/2" bamboo s great when it's secured to another material (80/20, aluminum angle, etc.) but when it's left alone it can be more sensitive than a Baltic birch of the same thickness.

My main use for the 1/2" bamboo plywood was for our three panel aluminum bed. In that application, each piece of plywood was secured to the aluminum bed frame panels in about 10 locations per bed panel. No issues with bowing, no issues with the bamboo drying out, warping, etc.

I'll be using 1/2" bamboo plywood attached to 1" square aluminum tubing in our AWD Transit van when it arrives this winter as part of a custom sleeper-sofa design that I've had in mind for quite some time.

I'm sorry that this is probably leaving you with more questions than answers!

Here's a better look at the 1/2" bamboo attached to 1.5" aluminum for our three panel bed in our old Sprinter.

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I build my cabinets in ¾ Plyboo. I used barrel nuts and connector bolts for joinery, so I can dismount and break it all down when I need to use the van as a hauler. This kind of joinery is very solid. I like to build cabinets in ½" when I can but the joinery is too finicky for me, unless using a frame of some type (wood or 8020). When building home cabinets I use Dominos and or pocket screws.

In ¾ I have not seen any more bowing than with a good plywood.
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I sealed with Osmo Polyx hard wax oil, my preference lately.
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The real question is if anyone successfully sourced plyboo or similar in their area or internet? I had no luck in Denver but as a hobbyist I have no retail buying power.
(Edited: or better yet I will just buy the kit from Matt^^^)
National Wood product in Denver has plyboo (as of a year ago).
4300 Oneida St, Denver, CO 80216
303-293-8660
 
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