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How to Glue Plywood Together: Step-by-Step Guide

glued plywood

One of the advantages of using plywood for any project is that it’s strong. Each 4’ x 8’ sheet is composed of multiple layers of wood veneer themselves glued together. Each successive one goes in another direction to add tensile strength to the finished product. Surprisingly, archaeological evidence exists that the ancient Egyptians crafted a similar material.

Gluing two pieces together isn’t difficult—as long as you’re using the right type for the project. The necessary tools are also essential to make sure that they will stay together. Our guide will walk you through the basics, from choosing your materials to finishing the job. We’ll also provide some tips along the way to make it easier.

Before You Start

The success of your project depends on choosing the right type of plywood. The first thing you need to consider is whether it’s appropriate for the intended use. Some kinds you may find with the sort of wood include:

  • Soft plywood: Pine, spruce, cedar
  • Hard plywood: Beech, oak
  • Baltic birch plywood
  • Marine-grade plywood
  • Aircraft plywood: Spruce, birch
plywood planks
Image Credit: Pixabay

While it is somewhat resistant, plywood will start to show wear-and-tear over time. We suggest you think about some type of protective coating or even a plexiglass top, if appropriate. Then, there are the tools you’ll need for the task. They include:

  • PVA glue or epoxy
  • 2–4 cauls
  • Roller or squeegee
  • Drill
  • Wood or drywall screws
  • Spare wood pieces
  • Newspaper
  • Sawhorses
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses

1. Prepare your work site.

You’ll need a large space to work if you’re dealing with full sheets of plywood. Make sure that the area is free of obstruction and debris. Lay down newspapers to catch any adhesive. Then, place your sawhorses on the floor, spaced to distribute the weight of the wood evenly. Double-check that your entire workspace is covered before you start.

Alternatively, you can place the sheets on scrap pieces of 2’ x 4’. The essential thing is to leave room for air to circulate, which can help the adhesive dry quicker. Bear in mind that you’ll spare your back by working on sawhorses, instead.

man using sawhorse

2. Place the first sheet of plywood onto the sawhorses.

Inspect both sheets of plywood. Choose the best side between the two to be the people-facing one. Touch it up if necessary, with some sanding with a fine-grade product. Wipe it with a damp paper towel to get rid of the dust. Put the plywood evenly spaced on the sawhorses. If you’re alone, you can tilt the upright sheet away from you and slowly slide it onto the sawhorses.

3. Apply the adhesive using a roller of squeegee.

You can use either PVA or wood glue for most projects. However, if it’s going to get a lot of use, you might consider epoxy instead, which will make the seal stronger. In either case, apply the adhesive on the entire sheet using a roller or a squeegee. In a pitch, you can use a scrap piece of wood to spread it across the plywood.

applying Gorilla 6200022 Wood Glue

4. Put the second sheet over the base.

You’ll likely need a buddy to help you with this task. You’ll have to act quickly while the adhesive is still wet. We suggest eyeballing the second sheet above the base before putting it in place to minimize the sliding you must do. That can interfere with the even layer of glue or epoxy, which can affect the seal. Make sure that all the edges are lined up evenly and press down on the upper sheet.

5. Clamp the sheets in place.

Use cauls to clamp the sheets together. They differ from regular clamps because of the space they can cover. That’s essential when dealing with large pieces like full sheets of plywood. We suggest starting with one in the middle and then going to the ends to make sure they’re appropriately aligned. Screw them down to hold the sheets in place.

close up PONY 55 Pro Pipe Clamp

6. Drill screws into the sheets.

We recommend using screws to hold the sheets together instead of weighing them down while the adhesive cures. It eliminates the risk of them bowing while securing them in place. You can use either wood or drywall screws. The former has threads until the end of the length. The latter has threads until the tip of them. It’s preferable because of this feature.

Start with the center. Then, go to one end and the other. You’ll have to space them closer for PVA or wood glue because of the viscosity of the liquid. Epoxy is thicker, so you can put the screws farther apart. Use the drill to make sure they are flush with the top. You can either keep them in for the finished product or remove them and fill the holes with more adhesive.

hand drilling on wood
Photo by Bidvine from Pexels

7. Allow the adhesive to cure as per the directions on the product.

The adhesive needs time to cure before the two sheets are securely in place. We suggest following the directions on the product that you use, erring on the side of caution for the higher end of the spectrum. Don’t move the sheets during this time. Once they’ve reached their time, remove the cauls.

8. Finish the project.

The glued sheets are now ready to use. You can follow up with whatever finish you want to put on the top side. Alternatively, you can forego the glue and just use screws. The advantage of this approach is that it’s easier to replace a sheet if you anticipate it getting a lot of wear. We suggest removing them if you plan to use the glued sheets for any project that involves electrical work.

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Final Thoughts About Gluing Plywood Together

Gluing together two sheets of plywood isn’t hard. It’s all about paying attention to the details. Using screws is an excellent way to keep them together that adds strength and durability to the end product. When done correctly, you’ll get years of use out of your project. It’s merely a matter of the proper prep to make sure the plywood sticks.

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Featured Image Credit: J. Lekavicius, Shutterstock

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