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67PrizewinningPlywoodProjectsSample.jpg

From 1976 to 1983, Popular Science magazine, along with the American Plywood Association, ran an annual plywood panel project design contest for its readership. Often the winning projects were items of furniture, but that was not a requirement. A potter’s kick wheel and a folding plywood boat are notable exceptions. The rules were simple: Apart from common fasteners, the entire project had to be constructed from one or more panels of plywood, cut to make most efficient use of the material. In 1984, these projects were collected, by original contest editor Alfred W. Lees, into a book called 67 Prizewinning Plywood Projects.

1984, of course, was decades prior to the advent of accessible home CNC milling, so all those carefully shaped and slotted parts, at the time, had to be laboriously hand-cut using a jigsaw or similar tool. Today, the book is a rich, untapped resource for CNC enthusiasts. I scored a used copy on Amazon, and besides the projects themselves, the book yields a bumper crop of ideas for clever tricks to incorporate into your own designs.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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