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

Sarah's Big Idea
by Sarah's Big Idea
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.
All it took was a bit of patience, a gallon of wood glue, and A LOT of sanding.
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.
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.
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).
Then it was time to glue and clamp.
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.
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!
You can read more about this project here: 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!
Frequently asked questions
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  2 questions
  • Barbara Nicholson Barbara Nicholson on Feb 06, 2017
    Where did you find the legs for the desk??

  • Roxanne Fucci Roxanne Fucci on Feb 09, 2017
    How did you make the drawers? Were they cut from the piece after it was all glued together?

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2 of 64 comments
  • Kathfz Kathfz on Jul 27, 2017
    I love it!

  • Lizw 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.....