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.

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.

Unicorn and Tortoise. 1 day in.

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Here’s how these 2 characters are looking at the end of a days painting. I’m looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow. The unicorn I used the pencil drawing I posted last post as reference and the tortoise I painted from a little plasticine model I made. This allowed me to adjust the angle  to fit onto the table in the picture. I hope I’ve got it right. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell until leaving it alone for a while and then returning and looking again with fresh eyes.

Once upon a time…

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The story is called; ‘Plant a Seed’ and the opening sentence begins;  Once upon a time some busy bees…
This picture is the beginning of a large mural at Ashley Down primary school in which a sunflower seed is planted and by the end of the story it has been nurtured into a beautiful sunflower.
Right now I’m musing on what to write (or draw) on the second page. What you you put next? Let me know, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Plant a Seed; Busy Bee

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Plant a seed

Work in progress on this stenciled busy bee. I still plan to add somee water coming out of the watering can and a shadow coming off the plant pot. Maybe a shadow thrown onto the floor from the bee too.

Alex Hykel: Artist, Puppeteer, Harmonica Player;

Plant a seed.

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This picture is a work in progress (but accepted) design for a mural on the first section of playground wall in Ashley Down Primary School in Bristol. The dimensions are 2.35metres by 4.82
In the final piece, all the bees will be wearing trainer’s.
One nice feature is that the open books are going to be painted with blackboard paint so the kids can draw on them. I love art that is interactive in some way, and encouraging kids to draw is a great thing. I’ve got to design a weather proof box that will attach to the wall to store the chalk in.
Painting is planned to start on the week beginning 18th of April, which gives me just over three weeks to learn to freehand with a spray can! I really hope it’s enough time.

Alex Hykel: Artist, Puppeteer, Harmonica Player;

What are these Bees doing?

Here’s a few bee characters busy doing a variety of hopefully interesting activities.

I’m going to use these drawings to make stencils that can be used to make colourful images for the school wall at Ashley Down.

Bees Rock!; Work in progress.

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Here’s one Tula and I found ourselves working on late yesterday evening by torchlight!
It’s a bit scruffy but I like it.
More to come from this busy bee series for Ashley Down Primary School very soon.

Alex Hykel: Artist, Puppeteer, Harmonica Player;