One Sheet Plywood Bench

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Introduction: One Sheet Plywood Bench

About: Applications Engineer for a mechanical seal company. Also run The Part-Time Woodshop!!

This is a cheap way to take 1 sheet of plywood( this one is 1/2" thick) some bottles of gorilla wood glue and a few power tools and
make a cool unique laminated bench.

This is my first instructable so i hope it is up to par, but if not i will work on my technique for the next one.

Might i add the only fasteners used in this project is glue and some wood pegs THAT'S IT.

Well lets get to it.

Step 1: Tools Needed/layout

tools you will need:

Table saw or skill saw
tape measure
clamps
speed square
pencil
drill
  7/8" forsner or spade bit

I think that is all but i will check as this process goes.

Layout:

For this project your biggest tool is your mind. Take some time to sit down and figure what size you will have to cut everything.
For this particular bench I took a standard sheet of 1/2" plywood and cut it in to 1.75" x 48" strips. The thicker the plywood the wider the strips can be.

You can vary the size based on the width and height of the bench you want to make. Today i will cut portions down to make a bench roughly 36" long by 18" high. On to the hard work

Step 2: Making the Cuts


Once you have your strip width figured out start to cut the sheet into lots and lots of strips. I used a battery powered circular saw which took forever but an electric table saw would probably make it easier.

You can see in the picture and example of the cut strips

Step 3: Get Ready to Glue


for this step you will need to have several long clamp readily available as well as 2 or 3 bottles of glue.

start off by separating your strips into two piles of equal amount. This will become a section for the top and a section for the legs.
Once this is done gather you strips and stand them on end so you can see the inside grain. Now you need to lay the first board down and squeeze glue onto the top surface of it. After doing this lay the next board on top and repeat the process do this till you get to the last board and stop!!! Do NOT put glue on the top of the last piece trust me, its messy.

Step 4: Clamp It Up


now that your hands have glue all over them cause your messy like me its time to clamp it up. you can do this any way you want but i like to clamp the ends then the middle and fill it in from there. Make sure these clamps are tight for the glue to really stick everything together.
Remember there are NO screws or bolts holding this together just GLUE

Step 5: Remove Clamps


once your glue has set up for the allotted time stated on the bottle slowly remove the clamps. you will have excess glue all over the the place and the boards may be uneven. 

At this point you can do a few things:

1.)put it through a planer and let it do the work for you
2.)get a hand planer and go to town
3.)sand sand sand until smooth

Once you get to this step pat yourself on the back and do steps 1-5 all over again with the other half of the strips. Keep up the good work.

Step 6: Cut to Size and Drill Holes


okay now that you have done the hard part it is time to cut down the section of laminated strips to the correct size.

Like i said before we will cut one set to 36" long
Now for the other set we need to do some simple math. The thickness of the top is around 1.75" so to get the overall height to 18" we need to take 18 and subtract 1.75, leaving us with 16.25". Proceed to make two legs by cutting two sections of the second set of laminated strips 16.25" long.

The next step is to drill holes for the wooden pegs to go into.

For this project we will use long 7/8" dowels.

Step 7: Sit Down


congratulations!!!!!!! who have made one awesome looking bench the ladies are going to be tearing down the door.

If you would like you can leave the raw finish but I choose to put a few coats of clear poly on it to bring out the natural wood color and protected the wood from the elements if placed outside. I hope everyone enjoyed this and I look forward to the next project.

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45 Comments

Thanks for the project idea I plan on making it as soon as I can and will let you know how it turn out. Thanks

That is really nice looking

A stronger way to attach the legs would be to cut every other leg strip 1½" shorter than the others, then shift every other seat strip 1½" left or right. The effect would be a big bridal joint on each end and a single glue up for the entire project. Using a roller or credit card to spread your glue would result in less waste and wiping the excess off with a wet cloth before it dries would mean a lot less sanding. I think I'll make one!

1 reply

This was my immediate thought as well. Great idea to begin with, but this minor change would make it several times stronger.

A trick to use to prevent the laminate boards from bending at all is to alternate the clamps on top and bottom. This provides an even pressure on both sides of the laminate.

I have a planer, they are a great addition to any workshop, and much faster than a hand-planer.

if you want extra security just use longer dowels too.

been a year lots of jumping on it from kids and fat people and hasnt moved at all.!!

This is Great project. I would make the following suggestions, though. One good side landing by someone of substance could collapse the legs too easily. May I suggest moving the legs in by 2", cutting a 1/2" deep mortise for them, fill the groove with glue and hold them in place with 3/8"X 6" lag screws with fender washers under the heads in place of the wooden dowels. Place a 2X4 centered between the legs, running the length of the bench to farther reduce sideloading movement and increase strength.

1 reply

you would think it would collapse easy but my dad is 260 and has dropped down on it hard before and nothing it is surprisingly stable those pegs can go as far in as you need and they are hardwood, so not likely to break. the goal was to keep it as simple and sleek as possible but thanks for the advise

Very nice work!

Tried to figure out what is the missing measure: hight 18", width 36", but what is the depth of the bench? I counted 25 pieces in the photos, which makes total of 12.5". Am I right?

1 reply

yep right around 12.5

great looking project. It was just picked up by apartment therapy. com
congrats.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/woodworking/make-a-modern-bench-from-a-single-sheet-of-plywood-instructables-157916

Looks very nice. I am considering doing a similar design for a fireplace mantle front. One thing you may want to consider is to miter the ends of both your bench top and legs, which would minimize the glue line and continue the lines from the plywood lamination along its entire run.

Should use CDX Plywood rated for exterior use.

CDX is "rated" exterior, but that is only as it applies if it gets incidentally wet during construction. In other words, after and certain number of wet/dry cycles, it falls apart, so you better finish your house before that point.

ADX, BDX, CDX, wafer board - they all fall apart the same way.