Sturdy table for outdoor food prep on wooden deck

Do the Stefan-Boltzman Law equation and report back. Full sunlight on Earth (you may be on a different planet) imparts about 1kW/meter. of power A black object will heat in the sun until it starts losing that power as fast as it comes in–via convection and radiation. To lose 1 kW over 1 m2 requires a temperature of T= Square Root (1000/5.67⋅10−8) or ≈364 K or 195F.

This is the theoretical maximum, based on a perfect black body and the assumption that the material only loses heat from the side facing the sun–in other words, the material is mounted to a good insulator. The bottom line here is that a work table made of thin SS stock won’t get very hot without an outside force at work, e.g/, a greenhouse effect. Tray that, too–put a SS bowl rightside up in the hot sun, and then compare its temperature with the same bowl inverted to create a dead space.

Where conduction comes into play is only that heated metals will feel hotter than most non-metals, even if they are exactly the same temperature.

It’s an oppressively humid 95F day today. Hopefully, my friend comes through with the IR thermometer.

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IR thermometer never came through. The stainless steel was much hotter to the touch. It’s true that the SS would cool quickly, but it would also heat quickly again. A table cover wasn’t right for our workflow. The wooden cutting board did warm up eventually, but it took a while. The plastic stayed coolest, so that’s what we went with. I found a 34" high table at Costco that is working much better than expected. I have to say I love this outdoor setup. Food cooks much faster, frying oil comes back up to temp fast, no worries about splatters, and I can cook at least a double batch in my wok now. The 30k BTU Camp Chef stove is good enough for me. I will stop looking for a Kenji wok stove because I can actually get the flame to kiss the food at the edge of my smallish wok.

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Glad that you found something that works for you.
I use those tables for potting plants or sorting stuff out of the shed.

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Nice simple set-up! Do you find that grease/oil/fat spatters etc. disfigure the decking? I have a minor problem with this on the stone terrace that my bbq sits on. Lasts a couple of weeks before fading, usually.

We have a lot of houseguests right now and it’s made life much easier. Fried 16 samosas yesterday in no time. Making a lot of rice, stir fries, roti. Rice needs a tawa (sorry English fail) underneath because even the lowest flame can be too high.

That grease mat under the stove catches most of the splatter. Baltimore gets a lot of rain now, so the grease washes away mostly. If there’s a large spatter, I will rub this sawdust type thing we have on it and it will wash away. We can’t remember where we got the sawdust. When we did our own oil changes for our cars, we would use it on oil spills.

Edit: Just checked. Yesterday’s large splatters washed away already from last night’s storms.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr