Plywood Power Carved Wall Art

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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. :)

Supplies

  • 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!

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    24 Comments

    0
    mfx721
    mfx721

    1 year ago on Step 6

    👍🏽Awesome job!

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!

    0
    acourtjester
    acourtjester

    1 year ago

    Great work I initially though it was a
    CNC routed project, to my surprise it turned out to be a true wood
    worker's work of art. I have always been impressed by people who
    have an artist's eye and can translate it into a wonderful project.
    My hats off to you, I'm sure you will inspire others to get dusty.

    Thanks for sharing your work.

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. After drawing the lines on the untouched flat plywood - it really did start to come to life on its own. I was surprised. It also definitely lent itself to the - "there are no mistakes" idea because if I thought I carved too deep, shallow or out of the lines it seems to flow with the overall project regardless.

    0
    onetruegod
    onetruegod

    Question 1 year ago

    As you say, sanding this would be a slow process. What would it be like if you sandblasted it? I t may not be perfect but that may add to the organic feel too. I'm not sure about the laminations though, they may be more obvious. Good or bad thing?

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Answer 1 year ago

    I have never sandblasted anything before. But testing it out could create some very cool results. I might have to see if I can find a small (ort low cost) sand blaster and try it. Maybe the different layers of wood would react differently to the blaster and create some concave curved going down into the wood. I think that would make it even more interesting. Thanks for the thought.

    0
    acourtjester
    acourtjester

    Reply 1 year ago

    From what I have seen with sand blasting wood is it highlights the grain of the wood. By this I mean the softer wood is remove faster then the harder grain shapes. It may help with the character of the project but not a smoothing action.
    If you check on YouTube some of the DIY wooden signs are done with sand blasting. Here is an example but much larger but shows the detail.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8f-ZfUdcms

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. I will take a look at the vid. Maybe sand blasting and then hand sanding could create some cool results. I appreciate the link and the additional info on sandblasting.

    0
    Libby61
    Libby61

    1 year ago

    That would make an awesome mirror frame. If you wanted to cut a circle out in the middle! Beautiful work.

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    I like that Idea. Now another project I have to try. :)

    0
    ChiefInstructor
    ChiefInstructor

    1 year ago

    Looks great. Like acourtjester, I thought this was CNC carved at first. Nice job.

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. It would be interesting to see how close a CNC could come to something like this. I'm sure that would be so much faster.

    0
    rpcook
    rpcook

    1 year ago

    Great work! I agree with your feeling "I began to dislike the perfect circular shape" and I think notching the edges was the best way to go as it looks amazing!

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks. I will admit I was really scared that I would ruin what I had started when I decided to cut the edges out but I agree it really worked out. For another project I also want to make the edge/fingers longer and see how far I can push the idea.

    0
    suzanac1960
    suzanac1960

    1 year ago on Step 6

    That looks beautiful, food for the soul, a pleasure to look at, fantastic work.

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Such a nice comment. Thank you!

    0
    rozzieozzie
    rozzieozzie

    1 year ago

    How beautiful! Almost looks like it's made of molten metal, like pewter or flowing lava. Great job!

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    I like that idea! Thanks.

    0
    TDCDTweets
    TDCDTweets

    1 year ago on Step 7

    This is stunning and testament to all the hard work you put into it. The dark stain still shows the lovely bands in the wood which ads even more depth to your own design. I also like how the original paint on the lower piece is showing in the bands before you stained it. The reclaimed art lover would buy it just because of those little hints of reusing something. This is a gorgeous piece of art and you should be so proud of what you’ve achieved. I look forward to seeing your next piece, maybe a long tall 4’x2’ size?

    0
    1alembic
    1alembic

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks. I agree. I think in the future I would fully stain any plywood that was glued together. I would have liked to see that middle layer of stain come through all over. That was a good lesson learned. I have been thinking my next one might be in the shape of a surf board and I would lie to try to make the carving look like water. As I have searched I have seen a could examples that have reminded me of water. So we'll see.