Laboratory Bench tops

Odd question here:
I recently acquired several pieces of chem lab benchtop material from a Freecycle board, with the idea of using them for -- something.
The question is, what are these slabs made out of? They are extremely heavy and quite flat.
So far as I can determine, they are made of some sort of resin material.
Does anyone know if this material can be cut and shaped with regular woodworking tools?
Do I need a water-cooled cutoff saw?
Should I throw them in the river?
Start my own chem lab?
Any help greatly appreciated.
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Are they green? Traditional lab tops were made of soapstone. If so, it would be slightly slippery to the touch. It has been awhile since I have seen this stuff, but it was commonly used for sinks, etc in early america. And if I recall, it could be worked much like wood.
All the labtops in my high school were made from soapstone. One of its qualities is that it does not react with most chemicals.
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wrote:

Not green - jet black.
Definitely not soapstone.
Thanks
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Gus wrote:

Laboratories have not used soapstone for many decades. As I remember the laboratories that I worked in in college were made of resin. (several decades ago.)
These bench tops are made of a resin that is resistant to most of the chemicals found in the laboratory; acids, bases, Sulfuric acid, Hydrochloric acid, Sodium Hydroxide and many others.
Try contacting one of the following makers. http://www.kewaunee.com /.
another is http://www.wisconsinbench.com/resources/BenchTopProductGuide.pdf
__________________________________________________________________________ With high resistance to chemicals, humidity, scratching and abrasion, Wisconsin Bench’s standard 1" thick black phenolic resin and cellulose fiber composite provides the perfect surface for laboratory tops, shelves and panels. The tops can be machined to your specifications or drilled and machined in the field. __________________________________________________________________________
It has been some time since I saw this type of top installed but it is made to be chemically resistant, not hardness. (Physical property)
As I remember it was cut with a standard blade suitable for cutting resin.
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Gus wrote:

Soapstone is mainly talc. It is generally grey (but can be other colors); however, when oiled, it is black - jet black. It is flat, heavy and very, very soft. It is also non-porous.
I don't know if it is still used in chem labs or not but it sure used to be and is regaining popularity as a home countertop material.
--

dadiOH
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says...

The colour of soapstone varies according to where it's mined and the impurities in it.
I have a piece right next to me that runs from an off white through rust and into green... with mica inclusions.
Soapstone, unless it's been fired can be scratched by a fingernail. Fired soapstone is substantially harder.
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Don't know how much this is going to help you but I acquired a lab countertop, about 6' long, with sink cutout. I built an MDF cabinet base for it and use it in my shop for additional workbench space. The sink cutout is where my router table lives and I have a Ridgid sanding station and a benchtop drill press on it as well. Very heavy, very stable, easy to wipe clean.
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How thick?
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Gus
What you may have is a maple laminated bench top with a black resin coating. Any screw holes you can find? Take a chisel - preferably a beater - and see if you can get through to what's under the surface. With luck you'll find wood.
I picked up a similar "lab bench" for $50 and it made a great woodworking bench top. The ones I scored were 1 3/4" thick, 3' deep and 6' long. With some judiciou planning got a 20 1/2" top layer and two 6 1/2" pieces for the outside underside (you don't normally pound and hack and hew in the center of the bench top)
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DasBench/CBbench22.html
On the other hand - you might have a slab of granite - but I doubt you could lift it if you did. If it is granite - and the surface is FLAT - it'd make one hell of a nice assembly bench.
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Ahem. Pardon me while I drive by.
Are you sure the top is not wood laminate with a plastic coating?
I have one of the chemistry benches my Dad got the summer of 1966 when the HS rebuilt the lab at dear old London (Ohio) HS. These were being tossed in the dumpster, so he got permission from the school superintendent and saved one from destruction. The base is in two pieces with a combined length of 11 ft, 6 in., has 8 drawers and doors, and is made of oak. The top is an even 12 ft long, 1 - 7/8 inch thick, 21 - 1/2 inch wide.
The top is made of laminated maple, then coated on the top, ends and edges with some sort of black plastic. The top is HEAVY, I'll tell you that. My testicles want to drop to about knee level on the rare occasion I've had to pick it up when I have moved.
The coating has withstood all the years of service at LHS, plus another 40 or so in his workshop and now mine with some chips and cracks. Dad cut filler pieces for all the various gas and air holes, then painted over the top back in the 60's with some sort of lead based enamel paint (probably Dean and Barry brand as my Dad felt they made the best paint in the world.)
I really need to refinish the base. It has some ugly chemical stains on a couple of drawers and doors. The stains have eaten into the wood and laugh at household bleach and oxalic acid. I'm leaving them as character marks. A couple of drawer bottoms are decorated with the autographs of previous students.
My two sons are already fighting over who gets it when I die.
Regards, Roy

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Solid black resin sounds like "Trespa", or your contry's local equivalent. It's a fabric reinforced / resin composite. Machines beautifully, but it's more like metalworking than woodworking. Micarta is very similar stuff. Small offcuts of this are good for making knife handles and the like. Repeated dishwashing fades tham and the fabric starts to show through, in a way that's not unpleasant.
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On Mon, 09 Mar 2009 07:49:07 -0700, Gus wrote:

Correct, most laboratory work surfaces these days are made of an epoxy resin mixed with silica (sand) to improve wear. There are basically two manufacturers of the material in the US, Durcon and Epoxyn, although these are widely distributed through the various laboratory casework manufacturers. Sounds like what you've got given your report of their weight (10+ psf). Black is the standard color although there are a dozen or so others that are used regularly.
There are non-silica surfaces of pure epoxy (e.g., Trespa brand) that are a bit lighter in weight. There edges, if unfaced, are often black despite the face color. They are chemically resistant as well, although nothing holds up like standard epoxy.

Nope. You'll need diamond tools to cut them given the silica content.

I have two adjustable height 60"L x 30"D "Edison" lab tables with epoxy tops in my shop that are great for glue ups and finishing. Not only are they strong and super flat, but easily cleaned. Most glues, paints, and other finishes scrape right off after dried.
--
Steve Hall [ digitect dancingpaper com ]

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