Make Your Own Plywood
Store bending can achieve shapes and forms that solid wood just can't handle.
The title of this article may seem silly, or maybe we carpenters have nothing more to write about? This makes no sense. But why the heck would anyone want to make plywood? It's almost as ridiculous as saying, "Honey, buy a liter of aliphatic resin at the grocery store.
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 not?
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Source: Tom Fidgen
Plywood: What do you imagine? A 4 × 8 laminated piece, who knows what, stuffed with brown dough and Dutch soccer balls that you would only use to buy cheap furniture from stores or college bookshelves.
First of all, forget about the 4 × 8. You are not mass-producing these things, you are creating slightly larger pieces.
Let's say you need an 18 "x 24" closet door. You make a 19 "x 25" piece of plywood. Done. Basically, you are doing what you need, when you need it.
And this is where you want to make your own plywood. Not for a quick set of cabinets, not for the striped bookcases in the guest bedroom. You are making real, durable furniture plywood from the wood you select.
This unique project that requires something special, and that something special is called varnish. Yes, you can leaf through solid wood, but don't expect it to stick for long. The movement of the wood will wreak havoc on it. The trick, ironically, is to use veneers to immobilize the wood.
My favorite type of plywood is called "wood core". You are probably visualizing the plywood as an odd number of layers of veneer of equal thickness.
The vast majority of plywood falls into this category. But this is why it is not the best for most furniture manufacturers: When working with typical plywood, securing the hardware (especially to the edges of the panel) can be problematic.
As with typical plywood, it has equal layer thicknesses, narrow strips of long grains occur between the final grain rows, making the screw-holding properties of plywood questionable. With a wood core panel, you can treat the entire panel as solid wood, attaching the hardware in the same way as you would solid wood.
A wood core panel, like any plywood, is made of an odd number of layers. This serves to balance the layers. Balancing means that the grains in the two outermost layers of a panel are always parallel to each other, but perpendicular to the layer to which they are glued.
This keeps the panel flat. It doesn't matter if there are three layers or 301s, each layer is glued at 90 ° to the layer below it and the opposite layers are always parallel. You can't screw it up as long as you orient each layer 90 ° from the previous one.
To maximize the solid wood effect of wood core plywood, it is important to make the center core thicker. If your target is a 3⁄4 "thick panel (and that number is arbitrary; you can make it as thick as you like), then your center core should be no less than 7" 16 ". This leaves room for various layer thicknesses external.
The core material is important. You should select the best quality material you can find. I like to use mahogany, but any stable wood is acceptable. Mahogany has a fine texture and is stiff and light. These attributes make the board incredibly light but strong.
Here's another important thing: this center core should be made from as much jagged wood as you can find. Riftsawn is fine, but do your best to make those growth rings perpendicular to the faces. Normally I have to select narrower boards to make the most of a quarter across the entire width of the board and then glue them together until I get the width I need.
This is a typical edge bonding job. Easy things.
Once the core is attached, you will need to lay the surface of the faces by hand (usually the case, due to the width) or run the panel lightly through a planer or sander. You don't want any raised edges on seam lines or airplane rails that can telegraph through your varnish.
Remember you are building this very large panel, so don't worry too much about dimensions just yet. Just make sure it's bigger than necessary.
Once the core is ready, you can start preparing your next two outer layers. Orient the grain perpendicular to the grain in the core. I like to use thick sliced commercial varnish, and the 1⁄16 ”varnish is available in many species (I tend to buy from Certainly Wood).
The thicker dimension makes it a bit easier to work with. Joint varnish may seem like a complicated proposition, but it's actually quite easy.
My favorite way is to use some leftover wood, about 3⁄4 "thick, then place the varnish between these boards, making sure the varnish is right on the edge of the board, then iron the sandwich all over a joint. , or Clamp all work in a face vise and do it with a joint plane. Since the thin varnish is held tightly between the sacrificial plates, it flattens out like a thick piece of solid wood.
You can get perfect edge joints in varnish with this method, and it's quick and easy.
To bond the varnish, first glue the pieces to the back with blue tape, pulling the tape firmly along the joint (the tape will stretch a bit before breaking) every 3 ″ or more Now turn the blades and repeat the process with the duct activated by water tape, adding a single strip of tape at the joint.
Water-activated varnish tape is important. It shrinks as it dries, holding the joint tightly together.
It also comes off easily after leaving the press with a damp cloth and a little scraping. The blue tape is a real bear to remove after it comes out of the printer.
Once the veneer tape is in place, turn the piece over and remove the blue tape. Make two pieces like this, one for each side of the core. These pieces should be roughly the same size as the core, but never larger. You don't want the thin, protruding edges to be damaged on the press.
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