You've seen the bold designs of patterned plywood in our cabinets and sculpture bases, but what is it? How do we make it?
All plywood is made of thin layers - or "plies" - of wood. Looking at the edges of a sheet of plywood will show these layers, stacked to create different thicknesses. We use Baltic Birch plywood, which is known for its strength and durability. Each layer - or "ply" in baltic birch plywood is made of solid birch, rather than softer, weaker woods often used in other types of plywood.
Creating patterned plywood is simple in concept, but labor-intensive. We start with a 5 ft x 5 ft sheet of baltic birch plywood, and cut it into thin strips. We turn each strip so that the striped end-grain stack of layers - rather than the smooth, plain top layer - is visible, and glue the pieces back together in this new position. The resulting sheet is pinstriped; more complex patterns like chevrons and diamonds require additional cutting and re-gluing. A 30 inch-square piece of chevron plywood requires approximately 200 linear feet of cutting! Once the new sheet has been assembled with the desired design, the "patterned plywood" can be used to create furniture, accessories, and more!
The consistency of each layer of birch allows for a strong material that cuts and joins well, and reliably holds screws - making for outstanding quality of craft. We first noticed the patterned plywood creations of Michael Alm at Alm Fab LLC, and were inspired to begin experimenting with the possibilities. Patterned plywood lets us exercise our creativity - follow us on Instagram @peacemakerranch to see our creations!