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Plywood Alternative

by jrobie79
posted 06-29-2012 02:36 PM

17 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8532 posts in 3488 days

#1 posted 06-29-2012 02:42 PM

torsion box, or in your case – maybe just an underside webbing without the lower plate to reduce weight

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View lumberjoe's profile


2894 posts in 2088 days

#2 posted 06-29-2012 02:47 PM

If the tile is stable enough, take a hole saw to the plywood to cut some weight out, or take a forstner bit to the bottom and cut the holes halfway though


View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2126 days

#3 posted 06-29-2012 04:04 PM

Build the top in 2 halves and join them on site with dogbones.

I just don’t see how you think you’re going to build a wood table that doesn’t weigh as much as wood.

It’s WOOD.

View a1Jim's profile


116592 posts in 3417 days

#4 posted 06-29-2012 04:12 PM

How about 1/4 ply top and bottom glued to a ridge foam core with 1/2” ply frame?

-- Custom furniture

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2417 days

#5 posted 06-29-2012 04:49 PM

I was thinking torsion box with 1/4” skins and 1/2” bracing on the inside.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Loren's profile


9639 posts in 3488 days

#6 posted 06-29-2012 04:57 PM

The tiles are a substantial part of the weight. The thinner you
can make them the better in terms of weight.

View jrobie79's profile


9 posts in 1998 days

#7 posted 06-29-2012 04:59 PM

“I just don’t see how you think you’re going to build a wood table that doesn’t weigh as much as wood.”

I was assuming there was some composite material/panels that could be used a replacement. Can anyone shed more details on the rigid core board? I like the torsion box idea with a piece of 1/4” as the substrate to glue the parquet tiles to.

View Tennessee's profile


2603 posts in 2354 days

#8 posted 06-29-2012 05:02 PM

I was somewhere along the lines of Jim – except I thought that you might try the cardboard offset core you can buy. So strong and durable they make claw pads for cats, and corner braces for shipping boxes out of it. Laminate it with 1/4” top and bottom. And technically, it’s wood!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View a1Jim's profile


116592 posts in 3417 days

#9 posted 06-29-2012 05:13 PM

You can use Paul’s Idea or mine they are both glued in the middle, depending on the span you have you could Incorporate Joe’s idea with a hole saw to take some of the weight out. Using the foam core all you do is spread some glue over either the foam or the 1/4” material (I’d use liquid nails) and do a bunch of figure 8s rather than solid glue and apply a reasonable amount of weight on top(belt sanders,routers,spare pieces of plywood) . The thickness of the foam will depend on what thickness you want and the span you’ll have. If you are going to drill holes in the bottom I’d wait for the glue to dry.

-- Custom furniture

View DS's profile


2824 posts in 2260 days

#10 posted 06-29-2012 05:27 PM

You can buy high density corregated panels (Cardboard) that are strong as plywood at about half the weight.
If you laminate a backer to both faces it becomes very rigid.
We use something like this for commercial office system panels. (HPL face)
(You may be familar with a large Swedish RTA furniture store that uses the same panels.)

However, I suspect a lot of your table weight is from components other than the 3/4X4’X8’ plywood sheet which is only approximately 65 lbs.

EDIT: On the West Coast, Lumber Products carries the panels.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View crank49's profile


4026 posts in 2811 days

#11 posted 06-29-2012 05:57 PM

Torsion box, wheather the core is a wood grid or foam, is the way to go.
Sinse the skins are in compression or tension only, you can use 3/16 hardboard and be plenty rigid.
If you go with foam, I’d use the thickest practical, 2” perhaps.
Also, with foam, be sure to use an adhesive designed for foam. It’s readily available.
I would make a perimiter frame out of wood even with the foam core to protect the edges.

And, I agree with others here, keep the tiles as thin and light as possible.

View a1Jim's profile


116592 posts in 3417 days

#12 posted 06-29-2012 05:58 PM

I think DS and others have really made a good point about the weight of the parquet, is there any way that you might use a Formica for the top ? I know it’s not wood but it comes in wood patterns.

-- Custom furniture

View jrobie79's profile


9 posts in 1998 days

#13 posted 06-29-2012 06:08 PM

I’d be willing to use formica for the top, can you point to any sources? I saw some of those self stick tiles but they look like crap

View a1Jim's profile


116592 posts in 3417 days

#14 posted 06-29-2012 06:24 PM

Most box stores carry some formica but full service hardware’s have hundreds of samples they can order. This is not a self stick product,you glue it down with contact cement. I think ask this old house and many other sites have a how too on it.

-- Custom furniture

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2217 days

#15 posted 06-29-2012 06:54 PM

Just use the top layer of the parquet tile since it will be glued down anyway. essentially make your own tile pieces and glue each piece down. a lot more labor then formica but would be all wood then. i think others already gave enough info on the torsion box frame. think of a hollow core door slab; light weight but rigid. maybe you could get one ordered as a 4’x8’ door.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View jrobie79's profile


9 posts in 1998 days

#16 posted 07-03-2012 01:19 PM

well the parquet tile I was supposed to pick up fell through…and I dont really want to spend a lot of money so I was looking for stuff on craigslist and anything any contractors had for overstock. Anyone know a source where its cheap?

when I built that table, home depot was clearing the stuff out for like $.50 a square foot. shoulda stockpiled

View Woodeo's profile


2 posts in 943 days

#17 posted 05-19-2015 07:39 PM

I like the idea of using a pre-built torsion box available from Lowe’s pro desk as a no-sweat solution that is lightweight and high strength.

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