Warping sheet goods solution

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Forum topic by QuickTooth posted 01-10-2012 06:45 AM 1265 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2534 days

01-10-2012 06:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: warp plywood art

This is my first post on this forum and I am hoping to get the advice of from some of the wonderful woodworkers I see on this site. I am more of an artist than a woodworker and could really use some informed opinions.

I have been making 3 dimensional hanging sculptures made from hundreds of small scrap like pieces of painted wood glued to the face of a sheet of plywood. Most of what I made was on a sheet usually 28”x20”. At first I was using plywood but I had a lot of warping issues. I have used OSB recently with better results. And in either case I have had less problems once I was sealing the piece front and back with polyurethane.

Now though, I am being given a great opportunity to make a few much larger versions of these for some public insulation art. These pieces will be on the scale of 3’ x 7’. And while I know I can make the visual side of these I need to be certain that its structural integrity is up to par when hung on a wall for a long term period.

My main concerns are:
1- Prevent Warping from hanging on the wall, and from humidity and such.
2- Must keep the backing as thin as possible. 1/2” is what I have been using currently.
3- Must be able to stand up to having hanging hardware and the weight of itself plus the art on top without things like screws ripping out (my fear on mdf)

Any suggestions as to what choices of sheet material might be better or any modifications to them would be appreciated. Some kind of metal or wood reinforcement maybe?

6 replies so far

View peterrum's profile


153 posts in 2884 days

#1 posted 01-16-2012 06:04 AM

I would go with Baltic Birch, it is very stable and does not have voids in it which can cause small problems with other plywoods. Some of the “birch” plywood I have seen recently at the big box stores is from China and is absolute junk, lots of twisting and warping in a 4×8 sheet. My advice would be to go to a wood supplier in your area and run your requirements through them. They will be able to help you and provide you with the best advice based on the products they carry or can get in.
Good luck

-- Carpe Diem

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3056 days

#2 posted 01-16-2012 07:21 AM

A frame could help. Using 3/8 (8mm or 9mm) Baltic with a frame could be a good way to go. The frame could help keep it flat and overall your piece would be lighter.

If you want a smooth front, the frame could cover the edges and be flush with the front.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 3003 days

#3 posted 01-16-2012 07:25 AM

Do a search on “torsion box”. You could make one with thin skins and not be a lot thicker than plywood and it wouldn’t ever twist or warp.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View QuickTooth's profile


8 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 01-18-2012 03:45 AM

Thank you so much everyone for your suggestions. I think I will be adding a frame to the back and using birch plywood. Unless I change my mind, which I like to do. I will let you know how it goes when I put it together next week.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3274 days

#5 posted 01-18-2012 04:58 AM

Your best bet would be 1/2” baltic birch plywood from a for-real cabinet lumber supplier. You want lots of plys for stability and the big box stuff probably doesn’t have enough.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 3278 days

#6 posted 01-18-2012 07:35 AM

How about a picture of one of your pieces?

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

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