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Borate treated lumber for workbench?

Jonathan Elliott
Sun, 03 Jul 2016 01:03:22 GMT

I just moved to Hawaii and discovered that almost all lumber larger than 2x4 is green treated. I did find some redwood the other day but it is 3 times as expensive. I've read that Borate is natural and not toxic like the normal green treated. Can I use this for my bench? My other thought was to use the Borate treated as the base and the thickness for my top and then laminate a layer of 5/4 hardwood on the top for the surface of the bench that I would be working on and flattening. Any thoughts??

Mon, 04 Jul 2016 20:23:07 GMT

Hi Jonathan. Wood is incredibly expensive here. I have had my best luck finding untreated wood at Hardware Hawaii in Mapunapuna. There is a guy in Waimanalo named Kini that has his own mill and does crazy tropical hardwood furniture.

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 20:47:17 GMT

Hi Jonathon. I used whatever the local pressure treated stuff is (VA) for the undercarriage of my bench and it has been just fine. My bench used to live outside so I did it out of necessity. I did use untreated wood (Doug fir) for the top because I didn't know if there was any ill effects of the treated wood touching my tools and projects and I didn't know how well it would glue. Also, that stuff dulls tools fast due to all the salt. If I were in your shoes, I'd think about a treated undercarriage with either a redwood top or a treated top laminated with something else (e.g. 1/4 ply or 1/2" pine). Also it is a pain working with pressure treated stuff, so I'd recommend designing your bench around as little working of the wood as possible and accepting lower grade work. For example, I didn't square up the 6x6s I used for legs, so there are gaping holes between the legs and stretcher tenon shoulders. Even so the bench is incredibly stout.

Jonathan Elliott
Wed, 06 Jul 2016 18:51:12 GMT

Gregkent, Great to hear from you, I wasn't sure if there was anyone from Hawaii on the forum. I'm on the Big Island but I know there are some local mills here to be discovered too. Craftingwood, I appreciate the advice, my bench will be outside as well, though under cover. Sounds like I might have to just get used to more expensive material and realize there isn't a "cheap" local wood here. I too was concerned about how treated stuff would affect my tools and holdfasts. Wasn't sure if Borate treated was any different.

Robert Bakie
Thu, 07 Jul 2016 06:24:48 GMT

Have you visited Aloha a Woods, yet? When I visited in November, I made a point of stopping in. Lots of beautiful slabs, but I think they had more conventional lumber as well.

Jonathan Elliott
Thu, 07 Jul 2016 07:30:35 GMT

Robert, Thanks so much, I am excited to check them out now. I looked on their website and figured I would go in when it was time to start building 'real' furniture and I needed nice wood. That's encouraging to hear they might have some conventional lumber as well!