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Veneer or ply

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jim282

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*NB: I'm far from an expert in woodworking*

What is the difference between 2mm ply and 2mm veneer (in terms of properties)? I assume that ply is layered and a veneer is one sheet but is there any advantages or disadvantages for using one over the other?

I was thinking of making a basic surfing hand plane. A design from a fairly established and popular company in the USA use a thin layer of XPS foam and on the top and bottom, there are two layers of 2mm paulownia veneer.

It's seemingly hard to come by 2mm paulownia (or any other sheets of veneer at 2mm thick). 2mm ply (or 4mm ply would probably make sense) seems easy and cheaper.

But I don't know the pros and cons of using one over the other for structural integrity and general longevity.
 

sunnybob

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At a very basic level, ply is not waterproof, not even water resistant, and is also relatively soft and will mark very easily.
Veneer is (usually) real wood, usually hard wood. Or it can be a man made product totally impervious to anything.
 

jim282

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So, if I did use ply and coated it in either tung oil, epoxy resin, yacht varnish, fiberglass or something that would counter the lack of waterproofness, could it then be a suitable alternative to veneer(especially if I used marine ply)?
 

sunnybob

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Marine ply, with a couple coats of varnish, would make a reasonably water resistant surface. But the slightest scratch through the varnish and the ply would start to discolour.
Theres a reason most boards arent made of ply. :shock:
 

Trainee neophyte

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I was going to say you need to think of this as being a mini surf board. It needs the full glass treatment, or you could consider it semi-disposable.

However, I then watched this: [youtube]j_fq78xTG8g[/youtube]

This guy just used solid pawlonia and varnish.

A quick trawl across the net suggests that you don't need clever ply and foam sandwich designs (unless you want to, that is), and a lump of wood with some varnish slapped on will be fine. Ply won't be fine, however. Paulownia is used because it is very, very light, but still strong. For the tiny amount you need, it won't cost much. Try here: http://www.ipaulownia.co.uk/paulownia-s ... urfboards/ (a blank for an entire surfboard is €35 - you could make several planes out of that, I think.).

(You can probably tell I have never surfed with a hand-plane, but I was interested. Get some better advice before leaping in based solely on my dubious ideas).
 

jim282

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Thanks for the replies.

I think I will try to make the hand plane from a solid piece of wood that I will then seal (as per that video).

On a side note, I have recently restored my mothers bellyboard (circa 1960) which is 9mm ply, also I notice one of the top bellyboard companies (and a few of the lesser-known ones) use 9mm birch ply for their bellyboards. So, I wonder, as long as you make sure that it doesn't get into a state of disrepair then ply may be okay. I guess a fiberglass surfboard is only good until you ding it and break the fiberglass.

https://www.dickpearce.com/shop/pastelgreen
https://ottersurfboards.co.uk/products/bellyboards/
 

Droogs

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Personal opinion here, providing you fully seal the finished board then using ply would not be a problem. Ply has a lot of characteristics going for it in preference to solid wood veneer for this application. The first being that a 2mm thick piece of veneer is in no way as strong as the 2mm ply due to the varying grain orientation of the ply. So with the ply you get a lot more rigidity and strength, you will also get a lot more stability with the ply as it will move and have far less internal stresses working on it due to rapid temperature changes compared to the solid wood. After all once you have built it all you need do is then completely seal it with a high quality durable resin. It all comes down to how often you will use and abuse it versus cost.
 

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