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Plywood Challenge: Bike Polo Arena Answered

The chain link fence around our Bike Polo arena  needs a 1' high runner at ground level. You can't bounce a Polo ball off a fence.

I've found over two THOUSAND small 12" x 18" x 1" plywood  pieces (hardwood, not OSB) . At $0.25 apiece, these are 1/10 the cost per square foot of Home Depot!

What is the CHEAPEST way you can think of to permanently join 8 pieces in a row, edge to edge? You have $0.50 per join. You must be able to lift the assembly and smile, confident and proud of its rigidity. 

Already thought of:
Gluing (biscuit, tongue and grove, etc): Lots of work, might work with the right process.
Sandwiched between sheets (HDPE, HIPS, PC, etc): Expensive, >$1 per ft^2
Webbing, Jacob's Ladder style: Webbing ain't cheap


Webbing can be cheap .........old seat belts .


4 years ago

Just butt joint the pieces together, with a strip (cut from the same plywood, maybe 3" wide) backing the joint. Glue with construction adhesive and drive a few screws in, as well.

Butt joints aren't as elegant as scarfing, biscuit, etc., but they are probably stronger. One side will be flat (facing the field) and one side won't be. That's the only "downside" to it, other than the completed sections will be somewhat heavier than a fancier technique.

Yep, that'll work. This is a good backup if the gluing idea doesn't work. I'd like to try gluing first, only because its pretty (if I don't mess up).

Deck screws will last outside, and be self-threading. Drywall screws are an alternative, but they'd rust pretty quickly

You can always caulk over the screw heads and paint each section, if pretty is important.

Thank you all for the responses. The best solution, right now, is to screw the plywood panels into a 2x1x10. Its waaaayyyy easier than gluing or joining, though more espensive.

Total cost per foot: $0.75 ($0.16 ply + 2x $0.5 runner + $0.10 screws)

Do you have access to a biscuit jointing tool?

Unfortunately no. Is using biscuits significantly (large differences) stronger than dowels?

Is your measurement correct 12 inches by 18 inches by 1 inch thick boards? You have a stadium size arena to fence in requiring two thousand pieces?

You can route or run through a tablesaw to create lap joints or tongue and groove which you can glue your sections together. How are your going to secure to the fence or stake to the ground? Is this outside or inside. You will have to paint or weatherproof for exterior use. Good luck.

Recycling the 12x18 slices is the question right now. We haven't had trouble anchoring our existing 12' boards to the fence, they stay outside all year long.

310 boards will circle a ~450' perimeter, if we can bond them into useful lengths.

I would think you could just use some strips to tack onto the back or tops and bottoms to splice the butt joints edge to edge. It won't be pretty but cheap and it works. There has to be one person with access to a tablesaw and maybe a pneumatic brad nailer that can cut out the mending/furring/lattice strips and tack them on.

Ok, thanks CD. A jigged tablesaw should run through the joint cuts in no time.

If I was able to keep the assembly from buckling under pressure, would clamping and gluing the entire assembly work?

Polo Plywood Assembly 2014.png

An exterior glue or exterior rated construction adhesive like liquid nails should be used. Brads are easier to use to clamp and hold the pieces until the glue sets and you probably don't have big or enough clamps. Still use pieces of wood to bridge and reinforce joints.

I picked up clamps at Home Depot, but I was thinking about using a ratchet strap for the long direction. Large pipe clamps are expensive.