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Plywood platte.jpg
Synonyms: DE: Sperrholz
Suggested Tools: most woodworking tools;
see individual sections for exceptions

Plywood is an engineered wood consisting of several layers of veneers (DE: Funiere) stacked with crossing (versperrten) grain directions. Wood glue ensures the layers are tightly bonded. The resulting material has little to no internal effects of grain direction. Cheap plywood often has veneers of inferior quality as its "invisible" layers which may become evident when laser cutting. Read more about the basics over at OpenDesk.

There are several types of plywood. For example, poplar plywood is rather cheap but will readily warp due to moisture. Baltic birch plywood is harder, more stable and more expensive. Thick sheets (> 12 mm) are often called "multiply" (Multiplex) and thin ones (< 3 mm) may be sold as "aeroply" (Flugzeugsperrholz). [1]

The sheets found in hardware stores are often too large to fit into a laser cutter or a scroll saw but are easily cut by hand when properly clamped down.

Take care to seal exposed edges when painting plywood - otherwise, the paint will soak in differentially and the ply structure will show through in the end.

Baltic Birch Plywood


Baltic Birch Plywood

Plywood part.jpg
Synonyms: multiply birch plywood;
DE: Birke Multiplex, "MPX", Birkensperrholz
Suggested Tools: laser cutter (engraving; not easily cut)

Baltic birch plywood has good structural and aesthetic qualities which makes it well-suited for a multitude of projects.

It is available nearby at Bauhaus in various sizes. Also check the offcuts section for cheaper pieces! One local retailer with a larger variety is Schoell Modellbau.

Film Faced Plywood


Film Faced Plywood

Film faced plywood.jpg
Synonyms: concrete casting plywood,
formply, exterior plywood;
DE: Phenolharz-Multiplex,
Suggested Tools: probably NOT a laser cutter
Similar (More or Less): melamine

A common waterproof variant of multiply birch plywood is film faced plywood, which is coated with dark brown phenolic resin on both sides.

It is commonly used in tough boxes, e.g. the one around Martin's "Music Station". Because the surface coating really likes to stay in one piece, be prepared for tearout when drilling or sawing this material without adequate precautions.

film faced plywood does age under outdoor conditions, but stays stable for a relatively long time

The surface finish could be applied to other wood species as well, but you pretty much only find it on birch plywood around here. You can also find it in other colors at specialist stores.

Since the phenolic resin coat generates a very smooth surface, you can use this material to build reusable concrete forms - it is therefore also known as "formply".

Laser engraving film faced plywood gives a rather dark surface that is not too different from the rest, but if you go over it a second time you can get the brighter wood under the ash to show through.

Wire Mesh Plywood

structured side of wire mesh plywood

The "wear" side of film faced plywood can additionally be imprinted with a wire mesh pattern, making it more slip resistant and therefore suitable for (outside) flooring and vehicle parts - a.k.a. wiremesh plywood, Sieb-Film-Platte, Siebdruckplatte or Fahrzeugplatte.

Lukas got a good deal on "some" 15 mm sheets which he might share with you for a cool project, just ask!

Poplar Plywood


Poplar Plywood

Synonyms: cottonwood/aspen plywood;
DE: Pappelsperrholz
Suggested Tools: laser cutter

Poplar plywood is very soft and bright which makes it great for laser cutting or engraving, especially laser engraving photos. It's often already warped when you buy it - try cutting it up into smaller, flatter pieces before you begin your actual project!

Bauhaus is a sourcing option for this type of plywood as well, they sell different thicknesses of 100 × 70 cm sheets as well as DIN A3 "hobby kits" (cheap, but may contain poor quality pieces you only discover when unpacking).