Skip to docs navigation

Plywood is a versatile building material for Sculpture , Woodworking , and Furniture . It is made from laminated sheets of wood that are glued together. The grain of the wood is placed in different directions to prevent warping.

Types of Plywood

Plywood comes in different grades, quality, and wood species.

OSB Oriented Strand Board

A B Plywood

Working with Plywood

Since plywood is not solid wood when it is cut, the thin head shows the laminated layers of the plywood. Some people really like the look of this and want to show the laminated layers on the edges of created forms to be true to the material. Other times this is not desirable and another piece of wood or material is used to cover up the laminated layers.

Thin veneers can be applied to the edge, thicker pieces of wood can be attached as well. Another technique to hide the laminated edges is to make sure that some of the pieces but into other parts of the plywood, so they are hidden by the joint. This is not possible for all edges but can eliminate some edges so they don’t have to be capped.

Another way is to paint plywood edges so one cannot tell that the edge is different than the face of the plywood. This requires priming and sanding and putting the edge because the laminated layers are much more absorbent of material than the face. They also have surface imperfections that will be noticeable unless they are smoothed out prior to final painting.

Uses of Plywood

Since plywood is relatively dimensionally stable compared to solid wood, it is great for making panels, crates, cabinets, drawers, and other items that need to be straight and true.

One of the disadvantages of plywood is that it is difficult to nail or screw into the edge of the plywood. Not only is the edge of the plywood thin, but it is made of laminated layers that tend to split when a wooden fastener is inserted into the plywood. This makes that attach directly into the edge of plywood weak.

One way to make strong joints into the edge of plywood is to use a particular type of wood fastener called a cam lock. You probably have seen these in flat pack furniture products. And one piece of plywood there is a hole with another whole perpendicular to it that a cam is inserted into. In the joining piece of plywood, a rod is inserted that has a specific shape on the end that locks into the cam. Then the cam is twisted and the pieces cannot pull apart.

Using this type of joining technique requires proper planning and precise measuring. It is a good use case for CNC machining of plywood after a 3D model is created.