Re: [DIYbio] Re: Preferred cheap countertop surface?

I'm a big fan of plywood workbench tops.  I usually use 3/4 inch thick plywood with a smooth surface (the cheap stuff will look terrible and you'll wish you'd spent the extra $20).  Sometimes it's called "cabinet grade" plywood.  I cover the edges with iron-on wood veneer tape so the sides are smooth.

For an ultra smooth mirror finish I put 2 coats of Varathane Ebony which makes the wood jet black. Then two coats of gloss polyurethane.  This looks really sharp and is fairly durable for general lab use.  But it *will* scratch easily with sharp objects.  I'm not sure how resistant it is to acids and bases.

For super durable workbenches I start with a single coat of an oil-based wood primer like Kilz, then two coats of black spray-on appliance epoxy.  This stuff is really really nasty (the solvent is a mixture of acetone, petroleum, xylene, and butyl acetate). You'll want to do it outside and with a respirator + organic vapor filter, goggles, gloves, disposable clothes etc.  If you do it inside you'll end up with a black residue on everything that will never come off.  But this surface is incredibly durable.  It doesn't scratch, ever.  You can hit it with a hammer and it won't leave any sort of impression.  I cut stuff with razor blades on it frequently and it doesn't leave any marks. Resistant to direct flames for a short period of time.  Also, its resistant to acids and bases.  I've tested it with glacial acetic, sulfuric, 12M HCl, 10M NaOH, and 10M KOH.  The only things I've found that will eat through it are Piranha solution and cesium hydroxide solutions (don't try this without a fume hood and chem lab training/experience).

Not quite as durable as a phenolic surface but for my purposes it's sufficient.  Plus it far less dense than phenolic so you can carry it yourself.

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