Plywood treatment

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Proudarse, Dec 26, 2019.

  1. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Hi All,

    I have just ordered hard plywood from here

    This board will be used to make a computer desk and my question is what do I need to do once the plywood board gets delivered.

    Do I need to apply any varnish or stain or will it be ok to sand it down and use it as is? I'm going to have a large mouse and keyboard mat on the desk which should cover most of the desk anyway.

    If I must treat it then can you please kindly recommend which type of varnish or stain I should use that will be suitable for a computer desk. Ideally something that's not sticky feeling, and something shiny would look nice I guess.

    Thank you kindly.
  2. Severntrent

    Severntrent Screwfix Select

    Sand it and use it bare or sand and apply Ronseal satin quick drying wood stain or other
    Proudarse likes this.
  3. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    I'm a big fan of Danish oil. It is pretty hard wearing, can be washed/wiped and, and looks pretty decent. Brings out the grain in the wood nicely without being overly shiny.
  4. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

  5. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Thanks all, Osmo is expensive and I already have some Danish oil lying around so will give that a go.

  6. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    Just beware with the oil..
    If the plys are thin the oil might penetrate though the top layer and can get to the glue and cause it to de-laminate.
    Best to try it on a hidden area first!

    Good luck,


    Proudarse likes this.
  7. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Thanks for the response, in that case do you think it's best to stain it instead?

  8. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    I'd make the thing you want, then just experiment with whatever you finish you fancy on a small bit of the underside.
    I wasn't suggesting not to use the oil... just not to overdo it, and to do a test first!

    For what it's worth I just used a water based varnish on my plywood desk... though to be fair, mine does have an oak veneer on the top surface, so it looks quite nice anyway!

    Proudarse likes this.
  9. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Ok, Cando, thanks again and I'll definitely test it on a small section before doing the whole board.

    Another two quick questions if you guys don't mind.

    1. Where can I go and buy cut to size hard plywood from?

    2. Is 18mm thickness thick enough for a desk that's 75cm wide and 55cm in depth? If not can I buy two 18mm thick boards and screw them together from the underside to make it 36mm in thickness?

  10. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    Many building suppliers who sell plywood also offer a cutting service. In Oxford, where I live, there are several of them who do this. Buildbase is the better priced one, but their variety of plywoods is good, but not as good as Powells Sheet Materials, who stock some of the most beautiful hardwood plywoods I've ever worked with. They'll cut their boards to whatever sizes you want, and charge about a pound a cut, but the cuts they make are dead straight, dead square and completely free of any burring to the edges.

    18mm of a good quality plywood should be perfectly fine for a desk of those dimensions. Unsupported 75mm would be a bit of a stretch for a traffic area, but it's not a problem at all for a desk. You definitely don't need to double up.
    Proudarse likes this.
  11. Astramax

    Astramax Screwfix Select

    I'm with KIAB on post #4. ;)
    Proudarse likes this.
  12. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Thanks, Roger - I'm actually going for the 24mm thick birch plywood which should prove to be even more rigid.

    I cancelled the order with woodsheets online and will see if I can buy something tomorrow from whittens timber here in South East London.

    Just hope they do 18mm thickness and up.

    If not then I've found another online site called woodshopdirect that seem better and have more detailed info regarding each variant of plywood, only downside is that it can take upto 12 working days before they dispatch which is way too long to wait as I'm itching to get down and dirty and screw in some legs to some plywood asap, like right this minute.

    Astramax, I'm sold on Osmo, saw a video on YouTube and it does look good plus not too expensive as I only need a small amount so can buy the smallest pot.

    Thank you all very much for your help as always.

  13. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    I recently fitted out my campervan with a mix of 12mm and 15mm birch plywood. The 15mm one was made up of 9 layers, with the outside surface layers 2mm thick each!
    The quality of the ply was the best I've ever worked with ... not a single void in any cuts and nothing to spoil the fantastic grain on both faces. I was so impressed with it that I didn't do the usual thing of hiding the edges with some kind of strips. Instead I made a feature of them, showing off the ply. The whole thing turned out beautifully.
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  14. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    Mine is 18mm, and has a span a little wider than yours, (1002mm between supports), and is a little deeper, 620mm.
    Mine is OK, but it felt a bit flimsey, so a I glued and screwed a length of U channel shelf bracket underneath for stiffening, and it works wonders... It's all been in place for about 6 or 7 years now and is still just fine!
    (and I put some half round trim on the bare edges)
    However, if I was doing it again I'd use 1" thick. (25mm)



    Good luck,

  15. Proudarse

    Proudarse Member

    Roger, I too like the look of plywood and will be using it without covering the edges and instead will rely just on the Osmo oil to do it's work. I like the layered effect look.

    This is just a little project and nothing I'm too precious about, just tired of searching for a 70cm wide desk which I can cut the feet off to lower it a little as I'm not very tall and the standard 70cm + height desks are just a bit too high for me.

    So I decided to build my own using these legs from Screwfix which I plan on cutting to my desired length.

    Cando, that is a nice desk, really like the colour. I'm interested in knowing what you used to support the desk so it doesn't flex. Could you please kindly send me links to these items so I understand what you mean?

    I'm currently living in a space restricted apartment and will soon move into a bigger place at which point I plan on building a 120cm by 60cm desk.

    Thanks guys
  16. LEH

    LEH Active Member

    If osmo is a bit pricey, Fiddes do their own equivalent for less money and from my experience is just as good, bit faster drying too.
    Proudarse likes this.
  17. DIYDave.

    DIYDave. Screwfix Select

    Osmo Polyx is superb and although may seem a bit pricy, a little really does go a long way

    The smallest tin at 125ml will give your desk 3 coats to start with then enough left over for future 'maintenance coats' over the years
    Shop around online and expect to pay around £12 for this size - not too much really considering the coverage and quality

    Also, Osmo products are available in 5ml sample sizes if you want to test the colour/finish before committing
    Around £1.30 per sample
    Proudarse likes this.
  18. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Check out Woodbin-Sagulator.
    Proudarse likes this.
  19. DIYDave.

    DIYDave. Screwfix Select

    It's just a length of shelving upright, repurposed for the desk and being 'U' shaped, is fairly stiff
    T.Stn sell these singularly and a better range of lengths as well ;)
    Proudarse likes this.
  20. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    Thanks DIYDave... That's just what it is... I had it lying around. I wouldn't have bought it specifically for the job.. A length of, say, 25mm x 50mm batten would have done just as well.

    See above comment for what's under... for the sides they are a tight fit in groves in the panels coming down, which are fixed to the walls. It's quite "vernacular"... looks better in the picture than it really is! It's just an "office" in a box room bedroom!

    Proudarse likes this.

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