The Giant Plywood Portal (1½m Across)


Introduction: The Giant Plywood Portal (1½m Across)

About: I have a creative nature, whether through my work as a software developer or at home, working on one of my "projects". With three kids and a house under renovation, there's always something going on around h...

The aim, as part of a bedroom makeover was to make a large plywood circle entrance to the bed, serving both decorative and functional purposes, as it would also conceal additional lighting for the room.

Step 1: Material Preparation

First step is to prepare the materials, which includes one 8x4 (2400x1200mm) sheet of 3mm plywood and a pile of scrap 65x40mm length of CLS.

Inclusive of the blade curf on my table saw, 60mm strips would provide 20 lengths, approximately 57mm wide.

One strip is possible waste, as I cut the sheet in half to make it more manageable in my small shop.

Step 2: Glue Up & Curve

As the intention is to make TWO circles, with a space between for lights, I cut 50 spacing blocks from the CLS.

You can never have too many clamps; I clearly don't have anywhere near enough, so have to think outside of the box a little and keep my fingers crossed.

When manipulating the strips, I worked 4 at a time, to reduce my fear of breaking them ... but, with 4 at a time, an extra pair of hands is probably needed.

Using the top of an old, round table as my template, I glued 4 strips (each slightly shorter than the next, to space the joints) and used clamps and two crank straps to secure it in place. Using some of the spacing blocks, allowed additional pressure on the ends of the strips.

Each of the circles has 4 strips, with screws through to the spacing blocks. The fifth strip is glued, pinned and clamped into place (hiding screws).

Spacing blocks on the top section have a channel cut (two passes on the table saw) which will be for cabling the low-voltage lights.

The outer circle was FAR easier to install, a few clamps at the centre of the strip and add some screws, working towards the end of the strips, adding more screws, until I got to the section which was only 3 layers ... back to the crank straps and clamps for that part.

I am using Gorilla glue, which has an extremely good bond, ensuring a thorough spread on all joining surfaces.

Step 3: The Clean Up

With all woodworking projects comes the clean up ... first step was to remove excess glue and the larger imperfections with scrapers, old chisels and a small plane.

Finer cleaning with my larger (and sharper) plane and a belt sander (80 grit)

Discussion with my other half, when installed, she's going to paint the circle; this meant that I didn't need to cut the inlay pieces with the precision that I would have done for a 'natural' finish.

The inlays were cut, based on a template, drawn on paper and sanded to fit. Small gaps sealed with a decorator filler and sanded smooth.

Step 4: Installation

You can see from the pictures that this is housed in a framework, custom built for the job.

For the purposes of the Instructable, we'll end here, as the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. We're going to sand it, paint it, install some lights and with the framework surround it will be complete.

Step 5: ... and Then

A few commented that they would be interested in how this turns out, with everything around it and whilst not part of the build, I thought I would share some pictures of how it's all coming along. Still a way to go, but for what we're aiming for, quite happy (and our lad loves it)



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    7 Discussions

    This is awesome! I guess I skimmed over the text while looking at the pictures and totally thought the circle was much much smaller. But seeing how its huge and actually inside the framing, lovely handy work. I agree with "akullerkann" and really wanna see the finished project!

    2 replies

    I have added some pictures (to the final step) which show everything in a far more complete stage

    A good point and I have edited the title to give a better indication of the size. As for ongoing pictures, we're still working on the room and I'm taking photo's as I go along and will be adding more to the post in the next week or two.

    Nice job mate! I would love to see the finished work. You have my vote.

    1 reply

    .I have added some pictures (to the final step) which show everything in a far more complete stage


    2 years ago

    would be great to see pictures when the wall is in and decorated, and some close shots of nice curved ply.
    strong work!

    1 reply

    The framework in the picture is staying quite open (to help with lights) and will be painted to compliment a light blue on the back wall. On one side (between the frame and the back wall) will be a desk, which will be for the lads XBox; the rest of the space will be for his bed, which I am putting on industrial castors ... so he can move it easily and use the end of the bed as seating for the desk. Space in the room is very, very limited, so I am trying maximise the storage and stuff that's in there, so that he doesn't lose too much floor space.

    I'll add some more pictures when various steps are completed. I posted this 'as is' because I wanted to emphasise on the circle, rather than the decor of the room, which will come later.

    The circle is 150cm across, so was hard to get a decent close-up of the plywood without it just looking like a stack of sheets. Added a couple here (before I sanded them back); maybe they help.

    A tip that I would give for trying to use plywood for curves, would be to invest in good quality sheets. This was made from a lower grade and there were quite a few voids in the material (one of the reason why we decided to paint, rather than keep the natural finish), which have been filled.