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ShopNotes Podcast E023: Plywood and Reader Questions

By: Phil Huber
The team discusses the joys and struggles of working with plywood.

Plywood is the topic for today. Specific and general all at the same time. It's Phil's idea and John and Logan play along. The discussion ranges from types, to buying, to cutting, to gluing it up like solid wood boards.

One of the keys to building successful projects is understanding the material. Listen in to hear how each of these woodworkers have learned about this often dismissed material.

Reader Questions & Comments:

From Kent: You all have different types of shops. How does your family get your attention when you're in the shop? I have a small basement shop and sometimes they stomp on the floor above me, hammer on the door or just stand behind the door and knock or yell. If I'm running a tool and have ear protection on how do I know they need me and how do they know it's safe to stick their head in? My wife mentioned getting a doorbell clicker put into the stairwell rigged to a doorbell or light. (Not the actual shop lights because that would be scary)

From Bradford:

I am building a hand tools chest out of French cut Walnut and am wondering how to finish the project. I was planning on using a mineral oil-beeswax concoction wherein beeswax is melted into the oil at about 1:4. I'm not too concerned with durability as its a shop project, but am I missing any potential issues? What type of finishes work well for tool storage and drawer function?

From Tomkin: I kinda chuckled when in your last podcast, someone mentioned back in high school, they were making the usual shop class projects: like a book rack…. Some time ago, a buddy who was a woodshop teacher lamented that the projects they were cobbling together did not spark much interest in the student population. Over a few six packs, we decided what was needed was a more complex project. It should reinforce all the skills and techniques taught in the first semester, and to introduce production techniques and collaborative learning opportunities. It should be something that the student would want to build, keep, use and to show off to others. To cap it off, it must be completable in 12 weeks. We decided on building a tool chest. I volunteered to come up with a design and to build a prototype. I basically copied the elements of a Gerstner tool chest. To simplified the construction, I eliminated the front panel. In practice, once filled with tools…it's just too heavy to schlep around anyway.

Tool Chest Mk.1

The case was select pine and the drawer fronts were from scraps of oak and walnut. Chest handles, corner protectors, brass pulls and the usual draw catches were the hardware used. Drawers were primarily in three widths, all graduated in height. The idea was for the class to build two or three in teams and then at the end of the class, they would be auctioned or raffled off. Upon developing the course curriculum, it was determined that no way that the chest could be built in 12 weeks. To simplified the design I built prototype II where for each drawer width, all of the drawers were of the same height. This meant that drawers can be mass produced in 3 different sizes only.

Student toolchest Mk.2

Second week into the class, the students protested that each wanted to build a chest to keep. Surprisingly, parents stepped forward to offer to pay for the material. End result…students had to collaborate to come up with mass production techniques to complete the build in the remaining 10 weeks.

Published: June, 11 2020
Topics: plywood
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