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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Curiously Positive Result Using 1/4" Plywood (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Leland Stone
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Hiya, Magi:

My background is custom wood- and metal-working, and my construction philosophy tends toward the "overbuilt is still not built well enough" end of the spectrum.
However, I've been pleasantly surprised by an experiment in underbuilding, and pass it along for what it's worth.

In reading some of the "Edwin's Magic" books, I noticed that many of the props appeared to 1/4" plywood, butt-jointed and (presumably) stuck together with wire brads. My initial reaction was, "yeah, right." However, I just knocked out a couple of R&D square tubes (not effects, just tubes) and it worked out "okay." I wasn't able to use a nail gun (could be my aim), but other than that the process is lean, clean, and apparently strong enough -- on some things. Obviously, there's little resistance to racking, but for the smaller stuff, I think it will work.

Your turn. What's the largest project you've built using thin stock?

Leland Edward Stone
Cliffg37
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Long Beach, CA
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Hi Leland,

I have actually under cut you, I have gotten away with 1/8 stock.

I have used to to build a production cabinet that is about 24 inches square, and a square circle about 16 inches square.

What I do is take some 1x2s and use a router to cut the appropriate groove. I miter the ends and attach four pieces together as in a picture frame. However I glue the sheet of thin stock into the grove where a picture frame might have its' glass.

This gives the piece a "shipping crate" type appearence, makes it strong enough for my purposes, and keeps the weight down.

Yes I am aware that a good punch or kick, or even dropping it might put a hole right through the side, but that has not happened yet.
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
George Ledo
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I've built lots of props and other stuff with 1/4" ply (I'm a theatrical designer) and find that the secret (shhhh... here it comes...) is to make a very clean butt joint and to use good ol' Elmer's on it before the wire brads. Either the white glue or the carpenter's glue work fine -- you just need a nice smooth spread-out bead of the stuff.

As far as a nail gun, I bought a small electric one at Sears; it shoots both staples and brads and works beautifully even on 1/4" stock. I think I paid about $40 for it.

I've even made some items this way without the brads: just clamp the thing together under pressure until the glue dries. It's amazingly strong.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

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tabman
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I was at home depot today looking at birch plywood and it was crap stuff. all warped to heck and crumbling laminations - and expensive. Whats up with this?? Ive been ordering small pieces of quarter inch from aircraft supply to get nice quality but the sheets at HD ?????? I came home empty handed. Well not exactly... new safety glasses and a quarter inch brad point drill bit
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
muzicman
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There is some glue I found called Gorilla glue. This stuff will bond anything to anything FOREVER! Instead of typical Elmers wood glue, would it be better to use this stuff?
tabman
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I've seen that gorilla glue on the shelf but haven't tried it. The Elmers holds up good when you give it a couple of days to cure before working with the parts. I've been using it for a long time and technology has changed. I guess I should try the gorilla glue on something. This week. I like screws too. Glue and screw!!
-=tabman
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
The Great Blackwell
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What do you guys think of "Liquid Nails?"
-Dave in Minneapolis

"Never trust anyone in a wedding dress, especially a woman!"
-Sam Malone
Cliffg37
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I have tried many glues over the years, and here are my opinions, for those who wish them.

Gorilla Glue is great, but the surfaces need to be dampened first in order to achieve a full strength bond. This is a very minor point, but it is an extra step. The glue itself is wonderfully strong.

Liquid nails is also very good. I used it only once, but it works fine.

Persoanlly I like the glue "Tite-bond II" it is water resistant. very strong, and has one big atvantage over the other two. It has just a bit of elasticity. It is a bit nicer to the wood is there is a humidity problem that swells the wood or warps it.

Bottom line is probably they are all fine, my suggestion, buy by price.

The Summer issue of "Handy" the magazine of the "handy man's club of america" had a wonderful article on the pluses and minuses of different glues. I would love to scan it and post it for you, but that would be a copywrite violation
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Leland Stone
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I'll second Cliff's comments on glue choices.

Tite-Bond is my preferred adhesive in the shop, although it stays more flexible than I would prefer post-cure (minor point, but it can gum up your sanding belts/sheets). Gorilla Glue is certainly my pick for joining different materials together (metal to wood, plastic to metal, etc.). Otherwise, I HATE the stuff -- if you don't wear rubber gloves when applying it, you'll get long-lasting black stains on your paws.
Cyanoacrylate ("Crazy Glue") is good for sticking magnets or small bits of miscellany to various surfaces.

I still use Elmer's glue when I hang trim or do carpentry out in the field -- it's inexpensive, and washes easily out of a client's expensive rugs. You'll probably be able to figure out how I learned that one...

Leland
George Ledo
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Tabman,

I don't know where abouts you live, but the Home Depots here (SF Bay Area) have been slipping too since the change in corporate management a few years ago. Very sad.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
tabman
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George, I am in central Tennessee about an hour east of Nashville. The cost of materials is going straight up. I buy wood now by the inch and search the internet for wood worldwide. I have cherry here in my wood lot but plywood??? What kind of tree does that grow on???

liquid nails??? holds great. hard to sand.

wood glue?? hmmm. I switched to titebond a while back and never gave it much thought. it holds a lot better than elmers carpenters glue, or seems to anyway. its all elmers to me but I looked to see what Im using today as I've been in the shop working since morning.

-=tabman
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Cliffg37
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While we are on the subject of Glue, I spilled my bottle of tite-bond a while back and didn't notice till itwas way too late. I now have a mountain of dried glue on my wooden workbench top.

I have tried everything short of an angle grinder to get it off. any suggestions?
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Wards Back
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Cliff:

Try a heat gun.
It might soften it to the point where you can scrape it off with a putty knife.

The way I deal with spilled glue/epoxy/paint is to just let it accumulate on the worktop until it becomes enbearable. Then I just replace the worktop!

("A creative mess is better than idle tidiness")
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Smile

Chris.
Jeff Dial
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Not for woodworking, but another great adhesive is Goop brand Marine Adhesive. It is strong, waterproof, and flexable. Using an idea from Eugene Poinc I glued feathers on my rubber chicken and it is holding up well after two years.
"Think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise" HHGG
Wards Back
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Jeff,
Based upon your signature, I would have to say the answer to any questions you may have is '42.' Smile
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Smile

Chris.
chmara
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I have found the 3/8 Baltic birch (finish) plywood (8 ply) iffers rigidity, strength and the light weight not avasialable in good 1/4. More expensive, but lasts and lasts.

Gorilla glue also has the unfortunate property of expanding -- so seams can look like they need sanding if you are not carefully stingy. Works well on Balsa.....

A lot of people forget, too that for bases 1/2 inch is light and sufficient IF you use enugh rollers to distrinute the weight and pivot the center.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
jnrussell
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If you're in the upper midwest, see if there is a "Menard's" near you. It makes Lowe's and Home Depot seem like a neighborhood hardware store!
John Russell
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chill
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I built an ice cream cart, 24" by 36" with 1/4" baltic !@#$%, glued and pin nailed, that supported a 6 foot tall, 160 lb woman. nobody told me she would be in there or I would have added more support. it's still together and working fine, but I prayed before every show
I spent most of my money on magic and women, the rest i just wasted
AGMagic
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I built a Pirate's chest to hold the majority of a friend's magic show. It was 21" high, 24 inches long and 16 inches at the narrow (bottom) 18 inches at the opening. It was primarily 1/4" oak ply except for the end pieces, decorative strapping and reinforcement pieces.

I also built a full sized "toe pincher" coffin out of 1/4" construction grade plywood for a play my son was in. It was constructed in panels like a shipping crate, then the panels were cut to the correct angles. The top and bottom of the coffin were 9/16" plywood to support the weight of the actor. The whole thing was designed to be knocked down for storage and was held together with loose pin hinges.
Tim Silver - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Magic-Woodshop/122578214436546

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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EsnRedshirt
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Newark, CA
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Tabman, George, you're right- there's frequently nothing but junk at Home Depot. I used to suspect contractors would come in and grab all the good stock, but when I checked the palettes below, discovered they were junk too.

Fortunately, I live close enough to a real lumber yard that I can usually get quality stock when I really need it.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
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