The Miracle Material ~ Plywood

Plywood is marvellous stuff.  An engineered sheet wood that is made from thin veneers of timber glued together in a cross-grained layer cake.  It was allegedly invented in 1797 by Royal Navy Engineer Samuel Bentham, and further refined in about 1847 by Immanual Nobel, (father of Aflred Nobel).

You can build just about anything out of plywood.  Go to Joshua Tree in California and take a look at the Integratron if you want to see an amazing structure made from sheets of plywood.

ply2One can see the method of constriction much better from inside.

plywoodThe floor in my apartment is covered in sheets of varnished ply to give a warm, clean and attractive finish which is better than carpet, and gives extra strength to the structure ~ (which stops my record player from skipping when I walk around).

One can make furniture, car chassis, (as in the Marcos 1800 GT,and the Costin), from plywood, which have a stiff plywood monocoque.


I could even build a home out of plywood ~ not difficult once the concrete base is laid.  In fact all of the materials to build a substantial home could be moved in the back of a Ford Transit Van, (which was designed to take the standard 8 x 4 plywood sheet).


Of the more remarkable things built out of plywood there is the WWII United States Patrol Torpedo boat as skippered by Future President John F. Kennedy in PT 109.


An even more remarkable war-winning machine was the ‘wooden wonder’ the de Havilland Mosquito ~ the plywood plane.  This machine was a light bomber, strike fighter, night fighter, reconnaissance aircraft, target marker, low level bomber, maritime patrol aircraft, torpedo bomber ~ the first truly multi-role aircraft.  In 1941 the ‘Mossie’ was the fastest aircraft in the world and was almost immune from interception.  Powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines it was faster than the Supermarine Spitfire, could fly higher and had a much longer range than the legendary Battle of Britain fighter.  The Mosquito could carry 2,000 lbs of bombs at up to 400 mph, all the way to Berlin.  The Mosquito could also maintain a climb on one engine.  It was also bloody dangerous for inexperienced pilots at low speed, having a stall speed of 121 mph.


de Havilland’s later jet fighters, the Venom and Vampire also use wood extensively in their construction.

One of the largest plywood structures today is Inhabitat, the Roskilde Plywood Dome.  Although, to me, this offers less than the aforementioned Integratron.

If one wants a less challenging project than an aircraft or home using plywood ~ try boat building.

plywood boatOh, and the WWII LCVP, the Higgins Boat, was also made from plywood.

higgins_boatjack collier



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