Sarah's Big Idea
Sarah's Big Idea
  • Hometalker
  • Minneapolis, MN

Got a Pile of Leftover Plywood? Turn It Into Unique Furniture!


My husband needed a work surface for his music studio, but didn't want to spend any money. I had a pile of scrap plywood in our basement that I was itching to clear out. None of the scraps were big enough to build a desk with, but I came up with a unique solution to both of our problems!
The plywood-scrap desk.
The plywood-scrap desk.
All it took was a bit of patience, a gallon of wood glue, and A LOT of sanding.
This is what I started with.
This is what I started with.
Have you ever cut a piece of plywood and looked at the cross-section? It's made up of layers, and the grain of each layer runs crosswise to the layer underneath it. Which makes for a very interesting texture.
Plywood-strip desk: close up.
Plywood-strip desk: close up.
I started by cutting my scraps into strips that were about 1.25 inches wide. I laid them all out with the cut sides up.
Strips of plywood, laid side-by-side.
Strips of plywood, laid side-by-side.
I laid out enough strips to make a surface that was about 6 1/2 feet long by 3 feet wide. This would give me enough material to cut all the desk parts out of a single sheet. (This is important if you want your pattern to line up at the edges and create an "infinity" look).
got a pile of leftover plywood turn it into unique furniture, diy, painted furniture, woodworking projects
Then it was time to glue and clamp.
Glue + clamp all your plywood strips together
Glue + clamp all your plywood strips together
Once the glue dried and the clamps were released, it was time for sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. I was lucky to have access to a Timesaver (a 36-inch belt sander), so this step wasn't as bad as you might imagine. After sanding came filling (plywood has lots of holes and voids in it, so I went through a lot of wood filler). Then one more round of sanding before I got to cut all my desk pieces out and assemble the whole thing.
got a pile of leftover plywood turn it into unique furniture, diy, painted furniture, woodworking projects
I finished the desk with a very light coat of Minwax Whitewash Pickling Stain (to keep it looking light instead of yellow-ish) and a couple of coats of Polycrylic. The whole project only cost me $53, for the wood glue, wood filler, stain, and poly. And even my husband agrees that it was a pretty creative use for plywood that would have otherwise ended up in a dumpster!
got a pile of leftover plywood turn it into unique furniture, diy, painted furniture, woodworking projects
You can read more about this project here: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2014/02/plywood-gets-sexy/. You'll also find links there for the shelves I made to match the desk, and a great finishing technique that you can use for a satiny-smooth finish on your DIY furniture projects.
Sarah's Big Idea

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Barbara Nicholson
    on Feb 6, 2017

    Where did you find the legs for the desk??

    • Aurora Henry
      on Jul 27, 2017

      Amazon.com have the leg, I believe they are about
      $50.00 for a pai. Look thru the site they have different vendors and different prices.

  • Roxanne Fucci
    on Feb 10, 2017

    How did you make the drawers? Were they cut from the piece after it was all glued together?

    • Sarah's Big Idea
      on Mar 6, 2017

      After all the other pieces were cut, but before it was glued up. They were cut directly from the front piece.

Join the conversation

2 of 64 comments
  • Kathfz
    on Jul 27, 2017

    I love it!

  • Lizw
    on Jul 28, 2017

    This is genius! Very creative and wonderfully executed. I can't wait to build something that way myself. Thanks for the inspiration! You are talented girl! And here I've been buying oak... ha ha... this has far more character and uniqueness. GREAT JOB.....

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