Got a lifetime (mine anyway) supply of 3/8" plywood. What to do with it all ?

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Forum topic by David Grimes posted 06-02-2011 07:10 AM 1287 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David Grimes

2078 posts in 2638 days

06-02-2011 07:10 AM

A former co-worker and overall great guy admits to being “the white Fred Sanford”. Need anything? He’s either got it, had it or knows where to get it. His house burnt down about 7 years ago and I built his new one. We go way back.

So he worked on a military base and saw all the crates of the same exact size being busted down and disposed of. He asked for and received permission to remove the crates at no cost. He carefully disassembled them and has hundreds and hundreds (six stacks 6 feet or more high) of same size stacks in 3/8” for the most part. He has some 1/2 and some 3/4 but they are like 24” x 24”. The 3/8” is all 32” x 42”. I bought 30 of them (for $1.50 each) that didn’t even make a visible dent in his supply.

I’m not even sure what kind of wood it is. It’s 4 ply and pretty smooth. No nail holes and no repair biscuits. The front is different than the back.

I’ve used four for the sides of my outfeed cart. I don’t do birdhouses and such. Some will get used instead of luan for cabinet backs and blind sides.

Any ideas on what else to do with this stuff ? (besides making hundreds of decidedly non-thien separator baffles and flooding Ebay with them, please). ;=)

Here is what remains of my 30 and pics of each side.

They look dirty in the pics, but it is just that. A quick once-over with the ROS and 220 and they are quite pretty.

Any ideas ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

6 replies so far

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3612 days

#1 posted 06-02-2011 12:43 PM

No need to limit these to only cabinet backs and blind sides. Make a frame that surrounds the panels of heavier stock, say 1 1/2”, using mortise and tenon techniques. Route a 3/8” channel down the center of the inside of the frames to trap these panels in the center. Glue it all up. There is no need to leave slots unglued for expansion and contraction of the wood – plywood is very stable – and gluing the plywood panels will make the structure very stiff. You will need a large flat surface to clamp and glue the panels or they won’t end up flat and true.

I think you will be amazed how strong this technique is, even with 3/8” plywood. This is easily as strong or stronger than using 3/4” plywood with dado joinery for cabinets. I built a workbench using this technique some 20 years ago and it has held up very well – no racking or wobbling and, hell, I routinely rebuild heavy cast-iron machines on it.

If the panels clean up as nice as you say, use decent hardwood for the frames, stain and finish naturally and they might make very nice furniture.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2841 days

#2 posted 06-02-2011 12:47 PM

Can I put in my order for 30 (or 60 for that matter) of them at that price? That looks like the luan I buy at the local Home Depot. It cost me $4.99 for a 2’x4’ piece. I’m not sure what it is actually meant to be used for, but that is what I cut 99% of my scroll saw portraits out of. The stuff I buy is called luan underlayment. It looks like what you have pictured above on one side, and the other side is a lot lighter color. The lighter colored side usually looks like crap while the darker side is smooth and nice looking.


View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2957 days

#3 posted 06-03-2011 01:55 AM

looks to me like you have the makings for learning how to apply veneers! A vacuum bag set up could get you the ability to make some nice stuff. Nice job saving some good wood!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2638 days

#4 posted 06-03-2011 08:16 AM

What is a vacuum bag setup? I assume it sucks veneer onto a substrate and holds it ‘til the glue is dry ?

I have not run across such a thing except some small setups on some WW retail sites where you can cover your pine wood derby car in bubinga or something equally trivial. So is veneering larger sheets cost effective and usable ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3285 days

#5 posted 06-03-2011 07:19 PM

I would use it for jigs, drawer bottoms, shelves for shop cabinets,( like a sandpaper rack), or double it up for shelving for any shop cabinet. Panels for framed doors. Etc, etc, etc.

And Bubinga is not trivial! LOL


View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2957 days

#6 posted 06-03-2011 07:50 PM

Using a vacuum pump you can apply vacuum to the bags single port; the vacuum pulls the air from the bag, squeezing the bags inside surface into the piece you have in it from all sides. The bags are special and somewhat expensive, but they are reuseable; care should be taken to avoid damage to them by sharp corners and such. Also, on big pieces you may need to put slender slats of wood along the length of the piece as the vacuum can pull down in the front or middle (in relation to the vacuum port) of the piece and trap air in places before it can escape. The squeeze is tight, and glue squeeze-out is also a factor to be aware of. Once a person understands it all it is by far the best way to apply veneers that I have seen. You can buy one or build on from web-based designs.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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