Plywood is a preferred construction material with many applications to different types of jobs. Low grade plywood is used for structural purposes such as roof sheathing and plywood, often as an improvement upon OSB. High quality plywood can be used for wall paneling, furniture, and cabinetmaking. The quality of plywood is judged according to a system with four grades, ranging from A to D. A given batch of plywood will be denoted with two letters, such as A-A or C-D. These letters indicate the grades of the front and back faces, respectively. Grade A wood has practically no blemishes, splits, or knots. Those that do exist are repaired by the manufacturer with synthetic filler. You can also make your own plywood at home. You may not have the industrial cutting equipment used to shave plies from fresh logs. However, if you have your own wooden sheets, you can easily glue and clamp them together at right angles.
Step 1 – Obtain Source Lumber
Plywood can be made from hardwoods such as oak, birch, maple, and mahogany. These woods are often used for furniture and finish carpentry. Plywood can also be made from softwoods such as fir, pine, cedar, spruce, and redwood. These woods are more often used for framing and construction. Since you are making AA plywood, you probably want to use hardwood. Plies are thin sheets of wood cut from a roller log with a blade. Plane off some sheets of lumber or buy them from a hardware store. Grade A plywood is knot free and the faces are sanded smooth to make them ready for painting. By contrast, Grade B plywood contains small knots and splits, but is still sanded smooth.
Step 2 – Obtain Glue
Decide what type of glue you will use to hold the plywood together. Plywood that’s being used indoors for furniture doesn’t require strong moisture resistance. Most such plywood uses a urea-formaldehyde glue. However, marine plywood is also AA grade. It is manufactured using phenol-formaldehyde glue for superior moisture resistance. Obtain the glue, epoxy or resin that you will use to manufacture the plywood.
Step 3 – Lay Plies
Mark out an area the desired length and width of the finish piece. Gather enough plies to stack together for the desired thickness. Lay the first piece and coat it thoroughly with glue. Use a squeegee to work glue into the grain and scrape the excess off. Now, lay the second ply on top, but with its wood grain perpendicular to the grain of the first. Continue gluing and stacking the plies until you are finished.
Step 4 – Clamp and Dry
Wrap the finished sheet of plywood in wax paper to protect it. Tighten wood clamps onto the piece to hold the plies together while the glue dries. Stacking more weight on the plywood during this process will help create a stronger bond. Use bricks, water jugs, furniture, or whatever is handy.