Making plywood

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Forum topic by shankedup posted 06-05-2018 04:09 PM 1673 views 0 times favorited 59 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1001 days

06-05-2018 04:09 PM

Hey everyone. I need some recommendations. So I plan to start making plywood. Looking into buying a band saw and the works. I’m just stumped on one thing. I’m new to this so pardon me if it’s a stupid question. I’ve been trying to research on what type of wood/log I should be getting to make the plywoods. I know the species, but is there a specific size and grade I need? I’m trying to make the standard 4×8 plywoods but coming up empty on what type of logs I should be trying to buy.

59 replies so far

View dday's profile


180 posts in 2440 days

#1 posted 06-05-2018 04:34 PM

Is plywood not available where you live? Unless you just want to do it for an educational experience or to make it out of some type of species that’s not readily available, I would ask why?

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6 posts in 1001 days

#2 posted 06-05-2018 04:40 PM

I plan on making and selling plywood since I’m part of a construction business. We plan to sell as well as use our own plywoods

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John Smith

2866 posts in 1173 days

#3 posted 06-05-2018 04:40 PM

something is amiss here ~ ~ ~
if you are part of a construction business and you plan to sell as well as use our own plywoods
if you have to ask what wood to use for a project, something just doesn’t sound right about that.
many members here work with plywood daily. I don’t think any of them ever think about making
their own 4×8 sheets. wow – that would be a monumental undertaking for anyone.

not just the bandsaw – but – how will you compress it during the glue up ??
go to BORG and buy some door skins – and glue them together just for practice.
the different layers of plywood come from all over the world, so they could be anything.
the best wood for the internal plys is Grade 2 Alder.

please keep us in the loop as to your progress.



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3184 days

#4 posted 06-05-2018 04:43 PM

Most plywood is cut using a rotary slicer. Cutting with a bandsaw is going to be very slow and very expensive.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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1478 posts in 2235 days

#5 posted 06-05-2018 04:44 PM

Do searches on youtube. There are many videos showing the steps of making plywood. You will see it’s all very large and expensive machinery. Usually, it’s not cut with a bandsaw but with a log slicer and like john said, presses for the glue ups.

Then, they are cut to the finished size and squared up and it’s all done automatically.

Are you from another country and it’s hard to come by?

View shankedup's profile


6 posts in 1001 days

#6 posted 06-05-2018 04:45 PM

No, but we just thought we might as well start the process for it too since it comes in hand with us doing construction. Noted that a log slicer and presses are needed. I just need to know what grade log I should be looking at so we have a better idea on how much these things would cost to make vs buying

View WyattCo's profile


93 posts in 1115 days

#7 posted 06-05-2018 04:48 PM


View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2866 posts in 1173 days

#8 posted 06-05-2018 05:00 PM

you need big huge Alder logs and a pressure steamer than can steam the wood all the way
to the middle to 300 degrees F. then a big lathe that can spin and cut the slices off in 9’ sheets.
and a big overhead crane to haul all that stuff around.
not to mention a big building with a 20 foot ceiling.
dang – and the list goes on and on and on and onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

THEN – have your accountant sit down and do the numbers of what it takes for you
to make your own plywood vs store bought from the finest wholesale hardware store in your area.
Georgia Pacific is looking for new high spirited entrepreneurs.



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 3011 days

#9 posted 06-05-2018 05:03 PM

If your making it, you can probably make it out of whatever grade of log you want. Plywood comes it all sorts of grades. Maybe you are already aware but I have a hunch startup costs for machinery to make plywood, on any kind of scale that would make it worthwhile is going to costs tens if not hundreds of millions. I’d second AZWoody’s suggestion of watching some youtube videos, to see just what this entails. If this is something you end up doing, keep us posted. I think a lot of us Lumberjocks would be interested in learning about the process.

-- Ted

View shankedup's profile


6 posts in 1001 days

#10 posted 06-05-2018 05:10 PM

That is true, it’s just when I am trying to get quotes for the wood, there’s a lot of specifications like grade, minimum height and width and what not and I do not know much about those and it seems hard to find information about it. John don’t worry, I have a yard and crane so should be no problem.

View JCamp's profile


1290 posts in 1561 days

#11 posted 06-05-2018 05:20 PM

I don’t know what type of construction you do but if u do large commercial construction I’m sure there are legal liabilities associated with this. Such as in 5 years you find out all the plywood you had made and used was somehow made incorrectly you would likely have to go back and redo all your previous work.
I’m not saying that it couldn’t b fun to do and there would b a large profit margin in the long run expecially if you started logging or buying your own logs straight from a logger. There would b a very large risk involved in it tho so b sure to have a great lawyer on retainer
Also if u are dead set on it you might eventually get into doing stuff like mahogany plywood and other exotic woods like that

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3581 days

#12 posted 06-05-2018 05:29 PM

doesn’t plywood need specific ratings by standard agencies to pass inpection? If you built a house using “homemade” plywood, I suspect that at your first inspection, you’d be shut down.

View Rustbucket's profile


2 posts in 2400 days

#13 posted 06-05-2018 05:42 PM

fish on

View EarlS's profile


4308 posts in 3359 days

#14 posted 06-05-2018 05:50 PM

I spent several years working for a large chemical company that makes adhesives, formaldehyde, and such for forestry products. The folks in the lab had a small press that they used to make plywood, glue laminated beams, and other products to test new formulations. It was still a massive beast of a machine that had some serious hydraulic cylinders to press the mats, as well as steam injection for thermosetting. I was able to get a lot of hardwood plywood for free after they were done with their tests.

I’ve also been in the big GP and Roseburg mills and seen plywood, OSB, and particle board made commercially. I really have to question whether you think you will be cost competitive with the big boys. Additionally, the capital cost to get into even a small press will be extremely expensive. Based on your comments, I’m not entirely sure that you really understand what you are considering getting into. My back ground is in engineering with 30 years of experience in process, production, and project engineering.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Jeff's profile


543 posts in 4205 days

#15 posted 06-05-2018 05:51 PM

What country are you in?

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