DIY with PLY

Produced as part of Plywood: Material of the Modern World

Ran from 15 July 2017 to 12 November 2017

Find out more

From an ingenious 'odds and ends' desk lamp designed exclusively for the V&A, to a large scale, CNC-cut greenhouse, get making with our best of the web plywood projects.

Easy to work, versatile and strong, plywood has always been a favourite material for amateur makers. Since the 1930s, it has shaped everything from homemade surfboards to skateboarding ramps. Plywood has never been more popular than it is today, with thousands of makers around the world swapping ideas for plywood projects online and in shared workshops like makerspaces. Plywood is perfect for cutting with digital tools such as computer-controlled (CNC) cutting machines or with simple hand tools. Its exposed wooden surfaces, simple jointing and layered edges have been embraced by contemporary designers.

This list brings two projects commissioned exclusively for the V&A together with six of our favourite online plywood projects (and one throwback from the 1950s). Ranging in scale from a greenhouse to a desk lamp, they cover all levels of ability from very simple to more complex. While some are made by cutting and jointing plywood boards, others show you how to mould plywood forms using veneers and glue.

Databases of makerspaces where CNC tools can be accessed:

Share your creations on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ispyply

Workshop Fan by Donat Fatet. © Donat Fatet

Workshop Fan by Donat Fatet

  • This simple and tactile plywood fan, designed exclusively for the V&A, was inspired by a hot day in the carpenter's workshop. Make it your own with coloured stains and stencils.
  • Tools and techniques: hand tools or CNC cutting
  • Materials: 1.5mm plywood | M4 nylock nut and bolt | string | glue (optional)
Knickknack Open Source Task Lamp by SmithMatthias. © SmithMatthias

Knickknack Open Source Task Lamp by SmithMatthias

  • Designed exclusively for the V&A, this task lamp is made from odds and ends and is open to the maker's interpretation
  • Tools and techniques: hand tools
  • Materials: 6mm plywood | 4mm plywood | 40mm diameter timber dowel | A3 thin card | LED bulb, holder & cable | 2 cable ties | book binding screw | pencil | glue
The Rothermel Chair from Wikiblock. © Wikiblock

The Rothermel Chair, designed by Ethan Rothermel, from Wikiblock

  • A stylish chair with a simple construction
  • Tools and techniques: CNC cutting
  • Materials: ¾" plywood | glue
Bent Plywood Night Stand by pseaton. © pseaton

Bent Plywood Night Stand by pseaton (as featured on Instructables)

  • An elegantly designed shelf with curved interior compartment, made by moulding glued veneers
  • Tools and techniques: hand tools and mould making
  • Materials: veneers | veneer tape and roller | glue | MDF board | dowels and matching drill bit | clamping cauls
CC Chair by Kniegmann. © Kniegmann

CC Chair by Kniegmann (as featured on Instructables)

  • An award-winning chair design made by shaping thin plywood sheets on hand-made moulds
  • Tools and techniques: hand tools or CNC cutting
  • Materials: 1/8" 3-ply Baltic birch plywood sheets | wood finish | hardware | ¾" MDF sheets | one gallon wood glue
'Up and Down Theater' by Harry Walton

A classic 1950s puppet theatre - 'Up and Down Theater' by Harry Walton (as featured in Popular Science magazine, March 1951)

  • "Although big enough for professional use, being 4' wide and 7' high, the theatre knocks down into 'flats' for storage, and can be transported by automobile".
  • Tools and techniques: hand tools
  • Materials: ¼" plywood | glue
Walking Chest of Drawers from ATFAB. © ATFAB

Walking Chest of Drawers from ATFAB

  • A low chest with six drawers, perfect for clothing storage
  • Tools and techniques: CNC cutting
  • Materials: ¾" plywood
The Nightengale Greenhouse. © Wikiblock

The Nightengale Greenhouse from Wikiblock

  • A large structural project designed for community gardens and outdoor events
  • Tools and techniques: CNC cutting
  • Materials: ¾" plywood

Share your creations on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ispyply