Introduction: Plywood Power Carved Wall Art

I have always enjoyed working on wood projects but had never tried power carving. I had recently seen a few examples of some extremely interesting results and wanted to try it myself. The plywood contest was the perfect push to get me to take the leap. I also had a few un-used pieces of plywood (that had been used to test some stains) which were just sitting around that needed to be put to good use. I hope you enjoy this instructable and find some value in it. I have been really pleased with the result and expect to continue to try making larger and more unusual shapes with this method. :)


  • Plywood - I used 3/4 inch birch plywood for this project but any thickness and type would work well.
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Angular grinder
  • Grinding blades
  • Dremel tool with sanding attachments
  • Sandpaper (80,120,240, 400 grit)
  • Stain
  • Sealer

Step 1: Determine the Thickness of Your Project

I used two 13 inch diameter by 3/4 inch thick pieces of plywood. I glued the two pieces of plywood together with wood glue and clamped overnight. You could easily create a thicker project by gluing more plywood together. For future projects I will start with something about 3-4 inches thick so I can more easily create more height differences in the final form. But for this project the thickness is about 1.5 inches.

Step 2: Create a Pattern

Once your glue has dried start to section out the area on the plywood. I wanted to evenly space out my carving so I divided my circle into slices - mmmmmmm pizza and pie...............

If I were to create a rectangle project I would have started with a grid.

After creating drawing the slices, I started adding lines to identify where I wanted the peaks on the plywood. I used pencil and erased a lot of initial lines (You can see some of the erased lines still in the pictures) until I had a number of lines that felt balanced and somewhat evenly spaced. then I redrew the lines with a sharpie so they was no chance I'd miss seeing them as the sawdust started to fly.

Step 3: Start Carving

I started with carving with the angular grinder and alternated between a 4 inch grinding/sanding wheel and a 3 inch metal carving blade. Both worked well but the smaller blade was much easier to get into the smaller curves. I also tried to grind into the plywood at different depths as to create more character in the final work. Generally, I found the deeper I tried to go the more interesting the layers of plywood became!

Step 4: Dremel Work

I also found that the smaller size of the Dremel made it much easier to create more details and prepared the project for sanding.

I'll also note that as I was working on this project I began to dislike the perfect circular shape. I wanted something more organic and decided to take a risk in notching out the edges at the low points. I feel this really brought it to life!

Step 5: Sanding

I spent a lot of time hand sanding after working the plywood with the Dremel. I started with 80 grit and worked my way to 400 grit. As many of you know - this was a slow and time consuming process. I'm always open to ideas of how to more easily and more quickly sand small intricate areas. :) The pictures don't show much change but I can tell you the change in how the plywood felt (smoothness) was drastic. :)

Step 6: Stain and Seal

I wanted this to be dark but I think I might have gone a little far so I stained and then sanded a little more and then coated it with a satin finish sealer. I added a number of picture to give some different views. Hope you enjoy the result. I'm looking forward to trying a much larger version next.

Step 7: Placement

Find a favorite spot to hang and enjoy your new artwork!

Plywood Challenge

First Prize in the
Plywood Challenge