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Bar Fitting With Plywood

May 23, 2008
Plywood as you've probably learnt by now is a tricky material to work with. This is due to the grain running in every direction, this over course makes it prone to splintering along the edges. Not to fear, there are ways to avoid all the downsides of plywood however. Yet still keep all of its good attributes, such as improved strength and durability, not to mention the price, and how readily available it is.

Planing Plywood.

When you plane the ends of a ply wood sheet it will have tendency to fray a little and eventually splinter. One of the easiest ways to improve your planning is have a sharp blade that is correctly adjusted. Many DIY shops will sharpen and set planes.

Fix the plywood firmly. It is best if you have a workbench with a vice, but if not, clamp it to a sturdy table. Set the boards together side by side, so that you can plane several at the same time and keep them level.

To remove material quickly, set the blade to project about 1mm using the adjusting knob. If you find that the blade judders and digs in, reduce the projec-tion a little or try planing in the opposite direction. As you near the final line retract the blade for a finer finishing cut.

Reduce splintering by planing at an angle across the boards. Work in from each side alterČnately and then finish with a fine cut along the line of the boards.

Sawing Plywood.

Some suppliers will cut the sheet for a small fee if you give them a cutting plan. Otherwise cut it yourself with a hand saw or a power saw, although it may be hard work by hand. I would personally recommend using a circular saw as these generally give straighter lines, however it is possible to use a jigsaw, you just have to take your time and be careful.

Use a soft pencil and a metal rule to transfer your plans and measurements onto the plywood. Identify each part with its key letter. With the sheet marked out, clear a space for cutting. You need quite a large area, so it may be best to work outside. You will also need firm and stable surfaces to support the sheet as you cut it. Long sturdy battens that rest on chairs or workbenches are best -- they will support both sides of the cutting line at once.

Try to saw as accurately as possible, cutting directly through the marked lines of your plan. Any minor roughness can be filled and smoothed down prior to painting, with either a belt sander or, glass paper.

You can fix the pieces together directly after sawing, but you will get a better fit and a smoother finish if you plane the edges first (see above).

A few months ago I was working on fitting a bar for a friend of mine in his Hotel in Blackpool. Using the techniques I've talk about above, it looks like a profession team of bar fitters put the place together.

Remember People Measure Twice Cut Once
About the Author
James Holdinski is a Scheppach expert, who has been in the trade for 25 years. James fitted a Bar in Blackpool and a Caravan Storage site.
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