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Ron Walters makes mechanical clocks with intricate wooden parts. Recently, we linked out to his process for gluing up round wooden blanks with “ideal” grain patterns from which to cut gears to maximize their long-term environmental stability. Ron has also experimented with using traditional plywood for gears, and got interested in making his own because he couldn’t find commercial ply having the right color, grain, and quality to suit his taste.

He makes the plies using a small portable wood planer modified with a custom table riser to allow access to the really thin sections (e.g. 0.060″) that he needs. The process is meticulous, and the size of the resulting panel is limited to the width of the planer feed, but the results are impressive, and it’s pretty fascinating to watch how carefully Ron works. His method is very well thought-out, and if you have a project that requires a small piece of custom plywood this series of videos could be just the thing you’re looking for.

Plywood Clamping Jig – Making Plywood Part 1
Plywood Clamping Jig – Making Plywood Part 2
Plywood Clamping Jig – Making Plywood Part 3

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. There was an article in Fine Woodworking a handful of years about about making custom plywood with epoxy and a vacuum press. The results were impressive, but the material behaved very differently from “ordinary” plywood. In most cutting and shaping operations the epoxy bound the fibers in a way that made the sheets seem to have no grain at all. The pictures of perfect curls of stripy wood planed off the edge were almost creepy (if you have ever tried to plane a plywood edge.)

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