Make the size of your wood 2 times bigger. 3 times bigger. Wait, how about an even more amazing 4 times bigger, guaranteed. And sustainable too! Learn the astonishing secret to enlarging your wood now.
Do you LACK* something? Use enhancing techniques to extend the strength and performance of your wood. Make it rigid and hard enough to be called monster Frankenwood. So let's be frank, this is really just to show you how to make hollow core wood panels or composite structures consisting of wood exterior skins and a cardboard support matrix.
Note: LACK is one of the furniture lines from IKEA that uses the hollow core concept to drive down the amount of material used and in turn the cost. The LACK table is good for hacks, especially since it is modular and its leg spacing width is similar to standard equipment 19 " rack mounts. Bring back EXPEDIT.
Step 1: Get Excited...
You can use power tools here but hand tools are equally dangerous. No real need to break out the laser guided compound sliding miter saw. It's not the size of your equipment but how you use it. So they say... This can be done in the confines of your dorm or kitchen table with a nice Japanese style pull saw.
In any case, you will need to use some kind of sharp cutting instrument. Be safe.
You will need:
Two face panels, it can be anything really, luan plywood, thin plywood, stiff cardboard, bristol illustration board, masonite panels, pieced together wood, old paneling, scrap planks, scrap MDF, sheetrock, solid foam sheets, etc...
I'm using two leftover scraps of mdf wainscoting from this project.
Wood strips, it helps to have them dimensioned for smooth square edges, if not, don't worry. They can be thick or thin. They come in all sizes but pretty much work the same.
I'm using one of the 1 x 3 furring strips from the scrap wood pile.
Lots of glue
Utility knife to make cardboard strips. Scissors will curl up the cardboard and go astray as you cut. I once used one of those old school guillotine blade paper cutters that is big enough to chop cardboard. It works but is kinda scary.
Wood finishing tools like sandpaper, plane, surform tool, scrapers, etc.
Wood finishing finishes like paint, decoupage materials, wallpaper, etc.
Note: This is basic woodworking and construction. Cutting implements are sharp and you can get paper cuts or wood splinters. Take precautions as you work it.
Step 2: Strip It Down...
Your panels can be cut to any size you want. Just have a pair.
Whether it be a tabletop, door, set of shelves, the same technique applies.
Take your measurements by using one of the actual panels as a reference. Tick off marks directly on the wood strips.
Measure and cut the front piece and the side pieces. You can make 45 degree angle cuts to join the corners so the endgrain does not show. I made simple butt joints, actually my miter box with box saw was buried under some other tools and I couldn't get it out. I could have eyed it and just cut it by marking with my framer's square too. The wood can be turned to make the edge thick or thin, a matter of personal preference
If you are making a shelf, there are two back pieces to cut. The innermost one is glued in to the structure of the piece. The other is not. The outermost piece of wood is a mounting bar. That is fixed to the wall first. The finished piece would slide over the mounting bar and screwed in on the bottom to give a floating shelf look.
Position and glue in the "walls" of your shelf/plank. Clamp as needed. You can never have enough clamps.
Step 3: Brace Yourself...
You can engineer the pattern that your internal bracing will take.
Essentially you want a honeycomb matrix to fill the inside of your piece. No need to fill up entirely with cardboard.
It can really be freeform as long as you have a good distribution of the internal pieces to support any load on the face panels. The face panels and the cardboard bracing forms a network of I beams like in bigger steel structures.
If you plan ahead, like you need to make a door, embed blocks of wood to be at places where you need to cut out and mount the lockset or hinges. Those areas need real solid wood reinforcement.
Remove any tape from your corrugated cardboard boxes. This is to make sure the glue will stick to the cardboard.
One medium sized shipping box yielded more than enough cardboard strips to use for our small shelf/plank. Use one of your wood pieces that forms the side as your cutting guide. Just keep on cutting strips to stockpile for later.
Start by bisecting your space and then build up triangular segments.
Dry fit and crease your lengths of cardboard strips. Apply glue to the entire edge and ends.
When you are satisfied with your framework, you can feel if it is strong enough when the glue sets and the parts do not wiggle or deflect in place. Add more cardboard segments if it is not stiff enough.
Take something hard to burnish the edges of all the cardboard pieces so it is level with the height of the wood rim around your piece. This is necessary to ensure that the top face panel will be glued down flat and in contact with all of the internal structure.
Step 4: Finish Up With a Few Strokes...
With glue applied to all the exposed edges of your internal framework and around the rim, mate the final face panel in place.
Clamp all around and let the glue dry.
When dry, you can trim and finish the edges.
I took a plane to cut a 45 degree chamfer edge on the front.
Since we did not use any metal fasteners like brads or nailgun pins, it would be safe to run a router to make a fancy edge around the piece. There is enough wood built in the edge to do a complex profile other than just rounding or bevelling.
You can also glue on various moulding strips to dress up the edge.
You can veneer with fancy wood to get an expensive luxury goods look.
Cover in laminate materials for a durable surface.
Contrasting woods would give a nice design.
Paint or finish to complete the piece.
Note that this technique is not limited to just straight flat planks. You can build up complex curved surfaces too. Don't worry if your wood bends right or left, it's natural.
Now go play with your big wood.