Make Your Own Plywood
Shop-made ply can achieve shapes and forms solid wood just can’t handle.
by Jameel Abraham
The title of this article may sound silly, or perhaps us woodworkers have just run out of things to write about? Now that is silly. But why on earth would anyone want to make plywood? It’s almost as ridiculous as saying, “Honey, pick up a quart of aliphatic resins at the supermarket. I ran out of wood glue last night.” You don’t make plywood, you buy plywood, right? No one but a caveman would build anything out of BC plywood. Or would they?
Plywood: What do you picture? A 4×8 piece of laminated who-knows-what filled with tan putty and football-shaped dutchmen that you would only use for cheap shop furniture or college bookshelves.
First off, forget about the 4×8 thing. You’re not mass producing this stuff – you’re making up pieces just slightly oversized. Say you need a cabinet door, 18″ x 24″. You make a piece of plywood that’s 19″x 25″. Done. You’re basically making what you need, when you need it.
And here’s why you want to make your own plywood. Not for a quick set of cabinets, not for edge-banded bookshelves for the guest room. You’re making plywood for real, lasting furniture from wood that you select. That unique project that demands something special – and that special something is called veneer. Yes, you can veneer to solid wood, but don’t expect it to stay stuck for very long. Wood movement will wreak havoc with it. The trick, ironically, is to actually use veneer to immobilize the wood.
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In Our Store: “Getting Started with Veneer with Steve Shanesy.”