Plywood is awesome. It's affordable, easy to work, and, when used properly, looks great.
Plywood also brings its share of headaches, specifically, tearout: the rough, jagged edges that result from cutting through the thin veneers. It's frustrating, and it looks absolutely terrible. Any woodworker who's ever used it can speak its woes, which can ruin an otherwise high-quality project.
But my friends, it doesn't have to be that way. Whether you're building a simple shop project or a full fleet of custom kitchen cabinets, you, too, can virtually eliminate tearout.
Let's make some crosscuts.
In my neighborhood, we have an excellent urban bike trail that runs along the a fairly large river that divides my city in half. Often, while cycling, I'll see folks, mostly elderly men, pop out onto the trail with their large canoes and kayaks.
"How fun," I always think, but there's no liveries or rentable canoe places until you drive an hour or so out of the city. Of course, I wouldn't need to rent one if I could get my hands on a piece of softwood plywood and a saw.
Which I can.
Plywood. We love it. It's affordable, it's easy to work, and brings all kinds of warmth and texture into any masculine-friendly decor.
Steve Ramsey's Woodworking For Mere Mortals is one of my favorite YouTube channels. Not only is he funny, he's honest. This is a great example of a simple idea and the challenges you face in the middle of a project.
In my hometown there's a poster shop that makes letterpress posters for every band that plays at The Ryman Auditorium. The fun part is you never know what size the poster will be and you can count on the size being something that could only be framed in a custom size.
Ah....the 4x8' sheet of birch plywood. A timeless DIY material, strong, dimensionally stable, and full of crisp lines and repeated grain patterns. It's great for everything from workshop jigs to cabinet carcasses to casework to... a full sized dining table?
Two years ago, Tom Sachs offered his video "Love Letter to Plywood," and we're kicking ourselves for not catching it then. Thankfully, Tom has updated his piece, and this beauty is getting some fresh attention. If you haven't seen it yet, click play to watch below.
Dutch designer Marjan Verboeket created free plans for this simple, rustic table and stackable bench. Constructed from an inexpensive single 8x4' sheet of plywood, you can have all the pieces cut to size at the hardware store, and assemble it at home with a few nails and glue.
The seats slide under the table for storage, making this a great solution
Sometimes, there are just those works of art, films, books, and records that are just an embarrassment of riches, and simply contain everything you love. For me, this series of Mitch Hedberg quotes, burned into plywood with minimalist illustrations and great typography is about as good as it gets.
Here's your DIY interesting fact for the day: popsicle sticks are made from baltic birch. Which is an exceptionally good material for plywood - it's very strong, holds hardware well, and is the go-to material for around the shop jigs, fixtures, and furniture, as well as hobby projects like model aircraft.
So, what's an enterprising maker to do? Create a section of laminated, steam-bendable DIY plywood from the craft store staple, perfect for making a longboard skateboard from scratch.
This ManMade guest post was written by K.Faith Morgan
You can't beat an awesome piece of wall art that is sure to strike up lots of conversation, and allows you to preserve your memories. This cork map art like a real world Where I've Been for your analog wall. (Is that weird that a website is now the reference point for a project like this?!)
Materials and Tools
I'm an enormous fan of bent plywood furniture. The subtle curving shapes of the precedent-setting Eames chairs are amazing:
And while it's not impossible to do at home, it would take a lot of gear, time, and money. Individual layers are steamed and then laminated (glued on top of each other) over two-sided forms, forming curved plywood.
And, as some industrious design students figured out, you can create a bike frame at home by learning to laminate and mold your own plywood elements. Brilliant! Even if you're not digging on building a bike frame, this is a great tutorial for learning how to mold and bend plywood.