Cutting weird shapes out of thin plywood or birch - Router Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 06:19 AM Thread Starter
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Default Cutting weird shapes out of thin plywood or birch

Hello again guys

My sister has asked me to cut her some weird shapes she needs for a project. She wants them cut out of plain whitish 5mm wood. The shapes are things like birds, small animals etc.

First of all, what wood would you suggest for this kind of thing? The pieces do not have to be durable or anything. Just be whitish and smooth. I was thinking birch.

Now I was thinking to do that using a jigsaw but she wants the sides to have a nice smooth finish, so I would have to sand or finish it with a router anyway.

I guess making templates for the router and using a thin guide should do the trick.
But since she wants many of them, I was considering stacking and clamping 4 or 5 wood sheets on top of each other and cutting them all at the same time.
My problem is how to get the sheets together with each other, so that the cutouts do not snap or worse when the cut is completing its circle.

Keep in mind that the pieces will have to be clean for use, so glueing, nailing or screwing them is not an option.

Thanks a lot
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 07:02 AM
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You are right on the way to approach this and the type of wood to use although finding the wood in a small sheet will be difficult but you could try Home Depot for one of their handy panels. As far as holding them together I would use double sided tape.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 08:14 AM
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Art, I am not aware of any HD stores in Greece.

Dimitris, plywood is commonly used for projects like this. Double sided carpet tape is used by many many woodworkers to hold pieces together as you describe.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 08:26 AM
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I would use a scroll saw.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Well Mike is right. We have no HD, but we have some similar bigish stores that sell averagish quality sheets.
From actual wood, they usually have only beech and spruce.
Other than that, they have mdf, plywood and various laminates.

And yes Mike that was a nice point. I am leaning towards plywood for them. I will try to find some carpet tape, although with the economy BS right now, it is getting difficult to find stuff...

About the scroll saw, I guess it falls in the same category as the jigsaw. Nice for the job but the sides will require further finishing.
Plus, i do not consider it the safest of tools for that kind of repetitive job
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:23 AM
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I would use luan plywood and stick it together with double sided carpet tape it works well and comes off clean. I have used it several times with templates with no problems.
Have a great day.
Roxanne
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:37 AM
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Hi Guy. This may seem a bit convoluted, but I did it on a project and it worked fine. I, too, had to make multiples, and leave a clean surface. I made a jig out of 1/2" cabinet grade plywood, then used the smallest clamps I had to clamp the jig, on top, to the three pieces of rough cut (on a bandsaw). The clamps projected about 1/2" below the bottom piece, so I used some double stick tape to secure a piece of 3/4" plywood right in front of the router bit coming up through the table. I used a 1" long bit with a bearing end, and adjusted it up to the correct height. Then as I made my cut, as I got to a clamp I simply removed it for the time it took to cut out that part, and then replaced it after the cut was past. I used four clamps, and the other three kept everything together just fine. The jig took the longest time to make, and that was a simple carbon paper tracing onto the 1/2" ply. Sanding the edges gave me a nice smooth jig.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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I though about something like that, but this might require pre-cutting the plywood to allow the cutout to be clamped... I will try it
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrNeon View Post
Hi Guy. This may seem a bit convoluted, but I did it on a project and it worked fine. I, too, had to make multiples, and leave a clean surface. I made a jig out of 1/2" cabinet grade plywood, then used the smallest clamps I had to clamp the jig, on top, to the three pieces of rough cut (on a bandsaw). The clamps projected about 1/2" below the bottom piece, so I used some double stick tape to secure a piece of 3/4" plywood right in front of the router bit coming up through the table. I used a 1" long bit with a bearing end, and adjusted it up to the correct height. Then as I made my cut, as I got to a clamp I simply removed it for the time it took to cut out that part, and then replaced it after the cut was past. I used four clamps, and the other three kept everything together just fine. The jig took the longest time to make, and that was a simple carbon paper tracing onto the 1/2" ply. Sanding the edges gave me a nice smooth jig.
Convoluted, maybe; but it has my vote. I hate double sided tape, always had a terrible time getting the wood clean after, the few times I used it. Some people swear by rubber cement, but I have the same problem with that as I do double sided tape. Now I just tack my patterns down with short thin nails. If your sister is going to glue these pieces down, it wouldn't matter if there were nail holes in one side, just glue that side down.

I get nice smooth cuts with my scrollsaw, maybe it depends on the blade used. Personally, if there were a lot to be done, I'd just tell my sister to use my scrollsaw and cut away.

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Call me a craftsman, artisan, or artistic, and I will accept that. Call me an artist and you will likely get a quite rude comment in return. I am not a @#$%ing artist.

Last edited by JOAT; 09-24-2012 at 02:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 10:10 AM
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Use thin plywood, stack up to 3/4 inch thick. pin nail the stacks together in the waste area or tape them together with packing tape. Get some Flying Dutchman Scroll Saw Blades and using a scroll saw, cut them out. The scroll saw leaves a cut that needs little or no cleanup and is one of the safest mechanical wooodworking tools available.
GG
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