Gone Outdoors

How to Bend Plywood for a Skateboard

by Wade Shaddy

Bending plywood does require magical skills. As a basically simple process, bending plywood involves gluing small, bendable pieces together. Skateboard manufacturers use hydraulic presses to bend plywood, but unless you're going into production, there's no need for the heavy equipment. But most any do-it-yourself can do it at home with glue and wood bar clamps.

1. Cut the skateboard design into the face of two, 36-inch-long four-by-fours with a band saw to resemble the curve desired in the skateboard. Cut two identical pieces with the reverse or negative profile, so they fit together.

2. Mix powdered resin glue with water according to manufacturer's directions printed on the package. Apply the glue with a paintbrush, to one side of four pieces of 1/8-by-10-by-30-inch Baltic birch plywood. Stack the four pieces together, with one dry side touching one wet side. Place the remaining piece on top, in the wet glue.

3. Place two of the four-by-fours perpendicular across two sawhorses, with the carved or profiled side facing up. Place the stack of birch plywood on top them. Place the other two four-by-fours on top of the stack, with the carved side facing down, sandwiching the plywood between the profiled faces of the four-by-fours.

4. Place five, 16-inch long four-by-fours, evenly spaced and perpendicular, across the top set of profiled four-by-fours. Clamp identical 16-inch four-by-fours -- centered under the 16-inch four-by-fours on top -- to the stack with bar clamps. Apply pressure to the clamps, compressing the carved four-by-fours together, sandwiching the plywood stack, until it conforms to the carved shape of the four-by-fours.

5. Wipe off the dripping glue with a dampened cloth. Allow the skateboard deck to remain in the forms overnight and remove the clamps. Cut the skateboard deck to the desired external shape with a band saw or a jig saw.

Items you will need
  • 4 pieces, four-by-four lumber, 36-inches long
  • Band saw
  • Powdered resin glue
  • Paintbrush
  • 5 pieces, Baltic birch plywood 1/8-by-10-by-30 inches
  • 5 pieces four-by-four lumber, 16-inches long
  • Two sawhorses
  • Bar clamps
  • Jig saw (optional)

Tips

  • The dimensional size of four-by-four lumber is typically 3 1/2-by-3 1/2 inches.
  • Best practices call for using Baltic birch plywood, which is one of the strongest. You can also use maple, or traditional birch, if desired.

Warnings

  • Don't use white or woodworking glue, it dries too fast. Resin glue remains viscous much longer and provides lubrication, allowing the plywood panels to adjust to the form and it's also water-resistant.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, goggles and face mask when cutting and gluing wood.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

Photo Credits

  • Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images