Wood choice for a complex project

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Forum topic by jshrager posted 11-30-2020 11:10 PM 356 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 57 days

11-30-2020 11:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hi. I’m trying to choose the wood to build a wooden version of something that was originally plastic, and has very thin plates. Each plate is ~5×24cm, but only 1mm thick. They have complex shapes that I plan to hand cut and file, after a bit of scroll-saw roughing out, obviously. The plates will slide against one another, and have to take a little, but not too much, bending force. Obviously, being that thin, they would easily snap if I put any significant bending force on them, but I do need enough solidity to be able to work them without them just breaking apart immediately, and I’d like them to look nice, so a darker wood would be best. Is there a wood that could make sense for this, that I can get in 1mm thick boards, or should I just give up and stick with plastic or metal, which, aside from being ugly, are very hard to work with? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

8 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2822 posts in 1138 days

#1 posted 11-30-2020 11:23 PM

welcome to the forum !!
when describing projects like this, photos, sketches or drawings
will get you the most accurate responses.
(and 1mm thick wood is called “veneer”).


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

View bilyo's profile


1256 posts in 2078 days

#2 posted 11-30-2020 11:26 PM

It is not clear what you are doing, but any wood that thin is going to be pretty delicate. You might find a close grained wood, similar to maple, veneer and, if you get it with a paper back, it will have a little more durability. But, not much. If you want it to stay flat without support, forget it. Stick with plastic or metal. If you want a wood look, maybe a faux wood plastic laminate will do the job. But, you will also have problems with that staying flat.

View Foghorn's profile


929 posts in 362 days

#3 posted 11-30-2020 11:52 PM

The toughest wood I’ve personally run into at that thickness is yellow cedar (cypress). Not a dark wood though.

-- Darrel

View Loren's profile


10939 posts in 4624 days

#4 posted 12-01-2020 12:00 AM

Look into aircraft plywood. It can be had in 1mm. Look on ebay for small pieces you can test.

View LesB's profile


2798 posts in 4419 days

#5 posted 12-01-2020 12:03 AM

Spruce was used for early airplanes due to it’s light weight and strength… is a light color.

I have to agree with others; 1mm is very thin for wood. How will it be supported?

-- Les B, Oregon

View Madmark2's profile


2096 posts in 1564 days

#6 posted 12-01-2020 12:13 AM

Jatoba maintains its strength in thin slices.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View SMP's profile


3203 posts in 881 days

#7 posted 12-01-2020 05:28 AM

You can get balsa wood sheets for model building. Thats probably the thinnest i’ve ever seen wood come from a factory, probably 1.5 mm. Maybe spray them with dye or stain to darken.

View jshrager's profile


2 posts in 57 days

#8 posted 12-01-2020 05:32 AM

Wow. Thanks, all for the rapid and detailed responses. I’ll try out some of these, and report back.


@John Smith, here’s what I’m trying to build (in wood):

I have one in plastic, and a couple in stiff paper (that are pretty poor). The plastic one works great, but I’ve always had in mind trying to build on in wood.

Anyway, I’ll report back as I explore these various suggestions.

Thank again, all!

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