Introduction: Plywood Curling Rocks

About: Woodworking, sports, games, music, food. I love it all. Wishlist includes home with a bigger workshop, a laser cutter/engraver, and planer. I also wish I could wrap my head around electronics and computer pr…

I moved into my home in January and was immediately inspired to make a curling rink in the backyard due to the length of the yard. In the Fall, I started the process by making some curling rocks from Baltic Birch Plywood. Follow along and maybe you can make some too!

Tools Required

  • Chop saw/Mitre Saw
    • Most DIYers have a chop saw, but if not, other saws could work as well. In a real pinch, a hand saw would work, but would be a real workout.
  • Lathe/chisels
    • No this is probably the one that most DIYers do not have. I was fortunate enough that my Uncle had one I could borrow. If you don't have one, ask your friends and family, check out local DIY outfits or even the local trade school to see if you can use theirs or have someone shape them for you. i looked on the local buy and sell pages and came across many lathe setups that were reasonably price, and nearly bought one, but then found that my uncle's was available so I opted for that instead.
  • Bench Grinder
    • This is to sharpen the chisels. It's necessary to re-sharpen often, otherwise you'll have a much harder time shaping the rocks
  • Drill
    • I would assume most DIYers have, or at least have access to a drill/driver.


    • Baltic Birch Plywood
      • I recommend Baltic Birch because it is sturdy, and well made. Other plywoods often delaminate and are of poorer quality, so they're not as well suited to this sort of project
    • Wood Glue
    • Screws
    • Paint
      • I opted for blue and red spray paint but you can use whatever colours you want
    • Finish
      • On the advice of a professional woodworker, I used penetrating oil for outdoor durability.
    • Door knobs or other handles
      • I lucked out and found 8 identical door handles in the sale bin at Home Depot, so I snapped them up and they worked out nicely.

    Step 1: Buy Plywood and Glue It Into a Solid Block

    I purchased a sheet of 1/2" thick Baltic Birch plywood and had the lumber store rip it down into strips for me. My rocks are just under 8" wide, so I had them rip the 5'x5' sheet of plywood into 7-7/8" strips. This gave me 7 strips with a bit of excess.

    7 strips stacked up provided me with 4" high rocks, which seemed to match the proportions of my desired rock diameter.

    Per the video, you can see me gluing up the boards and clamping them together. I didn't have enough clamps, so I used some threaded rod, and 2x4 to clamp as well.

    Step 2: Cut Your Big Plywood Block Into Individual Blocks

    Now that the glue is dry, I can use the chop saw to cut it into individual blanks for each rock. Measure and cut and repeat.

    Step 3: Mark Out Circles on Each Blank

    The next step is to mark out the centre of each blank and draw a circle on it, so when you

    re using the lathe, you know how much material to take off. I made up a simple jig to mark the circles. It consisted of a small scrap of plywood, a nail, and a strategically placed hole for my pencil.

    Step 4: Trim Sharp Corners Off the Blanks

    Once your circles are marked, use the chop saw again to remove the sharp corners. The rounder you can make the blanks before using the lathe, the better.

    Step 5: Lathe Time

    Disclaimer! I am not a seasoned wood turner. Lathes can hurt you. If you are unfamiliar with the lathe and how it operates, reach out to someone who knows what they're doing and learn the safety protocols and how to use it properly.

    I shape the rocks on the lathe basically by sight. Some of them are a bit different than others and I'm sure there's a way to make a jig so they're all the same, but I did not do that. They came out good enough for me!

    At the end you can see me screwing on the door handles.

    Step 6: Shaped and Ready for Finish!

    All the rocks are shaped and the handles are attached. Now it's time to make them pop!

    Step 7: Applying Penetrating Oil Finish

    This stuff was quite potent, so i would recommend using a respirator when applying it. And make sure your space is well ventilated!

    I started by tapping a few nails into a board in order to raise the rocks up off their bottoms for drying. Then I applied the finish with a foam brush and left them to dry.

    Step 8: Spray Painting the Tops

    Again, use a respirator and do this in a well ventilated area.

    In order to minimize overspray, I took an old t-shirt and stretched the neck of it over the rock, so that only the top section was exposed. Because I was going to use this same shirt for 7 more rocks, I didn't want it to get soaked with paint and potentially transfer to parts that I didn't want to get painted, so I took some scrap plastic and made a ring to catch most of the overspray.

    Step 9: All Done and Ready for Action

    The rocks are all complete and ready for action! Now I just need to get the ice in order so we can actually play! hopefully you enjoyed this, and if you did, toss me a like in the plywood contest!

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