What is Ply Wood?

The term ‘ply wood refers’ to engineered boards of wood, that are manufactured by gluing multiple very thin sheets (veneers) of wood together. Each adjacent layer is rotated, often by 90 or 45 degrees, so the grain of the wood runs in different directions. This adds strength, reduces shrinkage and expansion, and greatly reduces the chance of the wood splitting when it is screwed through. The number of layers used depends on the final thickness of the board, and it is commonly available from suppliers in the UK in sizes ranging from 3.6 to 25 mm thick. A standard full size board is then 1220 wide by 2440 mm long. Smaller boards are available pre-cut and larger, thicker, and thinner boards can be bought, although generally take a bit more searching for.

The veneers of wood are cut from using a rotary lathe. This machine turns logs against a long very sharp blade that peels the wood in one continuous, or semi continuous roll. This technique of ‘peeling’ logs was invented by a guy called Immanuel Nobel in the mid 18 hundreds. One major positive factor for processing lumber in this way is how efficiently it uses up the wood from the tree, compared to milling it into planks.

All sorts of different types of wood are used to make ply. The choice people make depends on the requirements of the project the wood is to be used for, for example, if it’s for furniture, or a buildings structural construction, and whether its going to be used on the interior or exterior of a building. Sometimes the final outside layer of the wood will be an expensive, slow growing hardwood, such as walnut, cherry or oak. This is a very cost effective way to produce a fine finish for furniture or doors.

Once the veneers have been cut, they are dried and then glue is spread over the sheets. They are then layered and then pressed together while the glue dries. The types of glue used, once again vary, depending on the use of the plywood. Often for exterior used the glue is phenol-formaldehyde based and for interior use it is urea-formaldehyde based. One concern in using plywood is the potential off gassing of the glues chemicals long after production, and the possible health concerns that may arise because of this. Many manufacturers now use a low formaldehyde emitting glue, and some are experimenting with producing plywood using soy based glue. Large suppliers stock plywood that comes with an emissions rating, much like a paint’s Volatile Organic Chemical’s (VOC’s) rating. In my opinion this is something to be aware of.

In the plywood production process, once the sheets have been pressed and the glue has dried, the rough edges of the boards are cut away as they are trimmed to size, and then they are graded and packed, ready to be sent out to the wholesalers.

Plywood is produced all over the world from Finland to India and is classed as an environmentally sustainable building material. Certainly, if the manufacturers are using 100% traceable wood from responsibly managed forests, this section of the production is sustainable. As for the glues used, I will research further, and discuss in another blog post as this is extensive subject in itself and worthy of careful consideration.

There is no doubt that ply wood is a highly versatile building material with multiple uses, that simplifies many woodworking projects, compared to making the same thing from solid wood. If it is used correctly, that is; the right type for the job is selected, it is worked with care and finished suitably, it can be used to produce splendid items that should last for many, many years.

Mist Coat Roller Arm

Check out the state of my arm, it looks like I’m turning into an abominable snowman. Fortunately, this was not the case. On this particular job, I have been helping a builder, whose name is Geoff, to modernise the previously rather ugly, concrete ceilings in a flat in Clifton.

I’ve never done anything like this before, and so found the process intersting. It’s fairly straight forward really;

Evenly spaced wooden battens are screwed to the ceiling into predrilled holes with rawl plugs in them. Then plasterboards are screwed to wooden battens. To hold the 2.4m by 1.2m boards in place while we attached them properly, we made 2 T shaped frames from some extra wooden battens that reached to the ceiling. After as many whole boards as possible were put up, we measured and cut the rest to fit the spaces left over. Once this was done in each room, and remembering to cut a hole in the plasterboard for the lights to be reconnected by an electrician, a webbed tape called scrim was stuck over all the places where the plasterboard met plasterboard and over any points there were small gaps in between the wall.

Geoff then plastered all the ceilings, which he does a fantastic job of! How he does it, I don’t know, but they end up shiney and blemish free and painting them is a breeze. The mist coat is emulsion paint mixed with water, (this is the reason so much liquid sprays of the roller!) I think the idea being that the fresh plaster and plasterboard soak up the watery mix and this helps to achieve a better finish when the next coat of emulsion goes on.

Anyway, after that we redecorated the whole of the flat, and are just going to finish off glossing the woodwork tomorrow. It’s going to look lovely.

Tula’s Flames

Tula and I had great time today spray painting this yellow army onto the red wall in her bedroom.

We had designed the idea ages ago but we’ve only just got the respirators we need to spray indoors. I say we, Tula did the designing, I just assisted the artistic process. 

Tula Iis very pleased with the result and so she should be, and very importantly, I’m very pleased to be able to say that the filters in the gas masks did an excellent job of filtering out the nasty propelant gases we would otherwise be breathing in. A flaming success and headache free.

Ah Bin’ Drawing. (An’ plan ta do more)

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Since finishing painting the wall at Ashley Down, I’ve taken a job working as a painter decorator for an old friend who runs a property maintenance company. It makes sense. There are some large gaps in my drawing/painting ability, many if which can be sorted out with regular practice in a sketchbook, so that’s what I’m going to do.
The picture here I sketched while waiting for some paint to arrive to paint a kitchen with. Everything was prepared and there was literally no other work I could be doing so rather than sit awkwardly in the customers flat (she was in) so I made good use of my time.

Ashley Down Primary School Wall; Painting Complete.

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I’ve just finished painting this long picture. It’s so long it took 2 panoramic photos on my phone to get it all in. It’s been a big old job, with a massive learning curve, but I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity.

Interdependence

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This picture, painted at Ashley Down Primary School, represents the ability to stand alone when necessary. For me a musician rocking it with the help of a looper clearly sums up this personal quality.

I love painting murals!

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This picture shows the stage I was at when I downed tools and finished work for the day yesterday, and therefore what I return to work on this morning. It’s another sunny day here in Bristol, I feel blessed, and I’m enjoying this project immensely. I’m learning so much and the hard work really feels worth it.
Treasure every moment!