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Love Letter to Plywood
May 14, 2012 6:07 PM   Subscribe


 
MetaFilter: its strength and flexibility is in its cross-grain constitution
posted by hippybear at 6:10 PM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Drip marks are NEVER OKAY.

(This is a cool find.)
posted by curious nu at 6:21 PM on May 14, 2012


Thought it was pretty good and worth watching. Didn't care for the gendering part however.
posted by edgeways at 6:22 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


that was great. i carried a sheet of plywood 3 blocks once. it was difficult, and the experience turned me against plywood. maybe it's time to reconsider.
posted by facetious at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't care for the gendering part however.

I do think he tried to make it clear that any gendering was related to playing card rank, and wasn't trying to make any real statement about women and their relative worth or anything like that in this video.

Besides, when it come to referring to inanimate objects using the female, it's usually a sign of respect, I believe.
posted by hippybear at 6:28 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was actually quite good. A worthy ode to a deserving material.
posted by localroger at 6:30 PM on May 14, 2012




when it come to referring to inanimate objects using the female, it's usually a sign of respect, I believe.

ooooooooor objectification. Like, in the literallest literally literal way ever.
posted by threeants at 6:41 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Did you watch the video? 'Cause that's pretty much why it was made.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on May 14, 2012


Beautifully shot and scored, but, as with all the films by these guys, the flowery and hyperbolic language and delivery takes away from the end product. Still, this is easily the best film I've seen by either of them.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:48 PM on May 14, 2012


In Shackleton's "South" he makes a big deal about a strong, light-weight material called "venesta," of from which he had 2500 boxes made. Many of the cases were disassembled and the venesta was reused for other purposes during the journey, such as building shelters, making a violin, and bookbinding. It took me a while to figure out he was talking about plywood.
posted by justkevin at 6:50 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was he serious about painting _before_ sanding?
posted by tayknight at 6:54 PM on May 14, 2012


That was...annoying. Just to pick out one point:

"Plywood is more flexible, and generally stronger, than lumber of the same species and dimensions."

More flexible - true! Generally this is a bad thing. It's handy if you're making curved forms, to be sure. Stronger - not true! The solid board they snapped in half had a big knot right in the middle - you can see a bit of it on the edge, just under the shoes. A knot is an interruption in the grain of a board. Anyone used to working with wood knows not put a knot in a area that will be stressed. If you put the long grain of a solid board across the span, it'll be stronger and stiffer than plywood.

The advantage of plywood is that it allows you to ignore the grain. With plywood, you can forget that you're working with wood. It's very handy and indeed necessary in many applications. But it's kind of a weird choice for a love letter - plywood is usually a material of convenience, and love is not convenient.

Also, dude, get a plywood carrier. Your shoulders will thank you.
posted by echo target at 6:58 PM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


A bit overwrought but quite worth watching, if you want to see the amazing plywood, look for void free marine grade ply. There are an amazing variety of surfaces, many that would be a shame to paint.

But like many excellent old platitudes, "measure twice" ha, I measure several times, think about it, redraw, leave it a few days to simmer, measure again, worry, measure the other direction, get out the saw, measure again, and I still get it wrong...
posted by sammyo at 7:14 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


facetious: "that was great. i carried a sheet of plywood 3 blocks once. it was difficult, and the experience turned me against plywood. maybe it's time to reconsider."

I helped carry multiple sheets of plywood up a mountain trail for repairs of fire outlook at the top. One of the longest days I've spent. Still don't hate plywood.
posted by jgaiser at 7:20 PM on May 14, 2012


When I started watching this film, I was skeptical, because I'm pretty familiar with the history of plywood movies and other similar films. I'd seen Orson Welles' classic homage to bamboo farming - Citizen Cane - and Bogart's sublime performance in Casaplanka, the movie about plywood planks. But I enjoyed this film. I was not board.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:23 PM on May 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


Take a short length of rope about 12-15 ft, tie a large loop at each end, hook each loop under the lower corners of the plywood sheet. Instant carrier.
posted by sammyo at 7:23 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd rate this movie a 2 by 4.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2012


In the studio, we use the Imperial system of measurement

Sadder words were never spoke. Say hello to our sole compatriots, Myanmar and Liberia.

It was a lovely video. If steel is King and ply is Queen, I say carbon fiber is the Right Bower.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:25 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity, when people say they are not OK with gendering of things, how do they react to people speaking any Romance language? Is it objectionable when Spanish is spoken?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:33 PM on May 14, 2012


A love letter to solid wood
posted by zeoslap at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2012


i carried a sheet of plywood 3 blocks once. it was difficult, and the experience turned me against plywood. maybe it's time to reconsider.

At the very least, reconsider not using a pickup truck; I even saw a photo once of someone who had rigged up a system to carry sheets of ply on a bicycle.

I love working with ply. It's the epitome of modern machine age to me. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than solid wood, but it is different and deserves to be used differently.
posted by Forktine at 8:04 PM on May 14, 2012


Metric vs Imperial? Foo, I can't find a truly excellent post I remember, probably of usenet vintage, discussing advantages of non-metric scales. 1ft vs 304.8mm has some kind of intuitive advantage. Here's a paragraph from an anonymous architecture student:

With imperial, you have the inch [which is fairly sizeable compared to 1cm,] a foot [which can be divided into four neat groups of three or two groups of six] and for smaller items you have easy fractions. Another point is that when measuring and surveying old buildings (which would have been designed in feet and inches anyway) the numbers will be whole and easy to remember in imperial - eg. 12'4" as a pose to 3759 mm. Personally, I just find that I can easily design everything from windows, furniture and lighting to whole structures in attractive shapes, forms and proportions but while using whole imperial figures and fractions that are on my ruler.

The post I can't find had numerous examples of the advantage of measuring with fractions, ease of calculation and certain intrinsic precisions. Fiddlesticks, if I find that it'll make a fine fpp.
posted by sammyo at 8:05 PM on May 14, 2012


> how do they react to people speaking any Romance language?

Grammatical gender is not the same thing as social gender. E.g. 'das m├Ądchen', meaning 'the maiden' in German, is grammatically neuter.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:05 PM on May 14, 2012


Plywood: Not quite as cheap as particle board!
posted by Reverend John at 8:14 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


sammyo, those are good arguments for personal use, but if your goal is to work with a larger global community it is worthwhile to adopt the standard system. It confounds me how Boeing for instance can sell world wide, and still be stuck with Imperial units. Do they insist all their vendors and techs stock 1/4-20 screws? And carry decimal inch calipers? It seems limiting. Also in the engineering world things get much more simple using metric. 1 liter of water = 1 kilo, density of a material = its ratio to that of water.

But we were talking about plywood; sorry for the hijack.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:20 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plywood is one of those things whose intersection of simplicity and astounding capability leaves me giddy.

I fought with some lousy slats in my kid's double bed for *years*. They would slide around, the stupid nylon straps would slip, and a slat would break every now and then if I rolled the wrong way while reading in bed with a couple of my kids. I replaced them all with a couple sheets of 3/4 ply, and it's no exaggeration to say that my entire family could trampoline jump on that thing together now, without even a creak.

It's especially fun to watch others learn the magic of plywood.
posted by CaseyB at 8:22 PM on May 14, 2012


There are many very cool plywood boat kits out there. You get much better performance using fewer resources than with solid wood construction:

Pygmy Boats, PT Watercraft, Chesapeake Light Craft.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:27 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


A little context.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:56 PM on May 14, 2012


Judging from the 10 bullets video, I would last about six minutes at the studio.
posted by maxwelton at 9:13 PM on May 14, 2012


The 10 Bullets video seemed.. weirdly corporate.
posted by curious nu at 9:17 PM on May 14, 2012


The 10 Bullets video seemed.. weirdly corporate.

Because... it's a corporation? I'm sure they didn't just put the rules in for fun, they're trying to make money, I assume and put out a good quality product (i.e. without drip marks in the shots, I guess)

Also, the stuff about gendered use of "king" and "queen" - get over yourselves. For the vast majority of people something like that isn't even on their radar.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 PM on May 14, 2012


First, this video made me think of (and miss) my father-in-law, who was sometimes sloppy and imprecise in his own projects, but who agonized meticulously over the pieces he made for his Russian Orthodox church. Plywood was commonly used because it was inevitably to be painted - why waste money on hardwood when the shape was more important than the grain?

Second, I miss James Krenov for the same reasons. He would have had some interesting counterpoints to plywood's benefits.

I truly enjoyed this, and found inspiration to create from it. Thanks.
posted by Graygorey at 10:29 PM on May 14, 2012


The 10 Bullets video seemed.. weirdly corporate.

All I really got from it was "obey."
posted by maxwelton at 11:17 PM on May 14, 2012


The 10 Bullets video seemed.. weirdly corporate.

Being a corporate monkey, I don't think corporate is the word you are looking for. "Neurotic" came to my mind.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:57 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this up until the Imperial/Metric part, not because I care about the difference, but because until that point it seems like you're watching a video that possibly has broader implications, showing you general best practices for working with plywood. But since it's so obvious that sticking with Imperial over Metric is a pretty arbitrary choice (and certainly grounded merely in the happenstance of their birth-country), it's pretty off-putting to hear the same sort of best-practices-as-a-sort-of-ethics voice and language mobilized for something silly and arbitrary. It made me question the bombast of the whole video, where before I was pretty much riding with it and (having little knowledge of the field myself) taking it at face value.

The 10 Bullets/Studio Code video odinsdream linked to is good for putting this into context. It is a bit of a mish-mash of general best practices and idiosyncratic 'this is just how it works here' talk, but the video is clear that it's not really speaking to a general audience. It's teaching prospective employees how their studio is run. Treating the studio rules/methods as though they were a matter of ethics is a fine conceit in that case.

As for the 10 Bullets video coming off as corporate (or neurotic), I definitely bristled at some of the language (esp. maybe treating the kitchen cleanliness as though it matters as much as work-space cleanliness), but if his studio is run like many others, he's hiring very low-cost labor in the form of recent MFA or BFA grads. Making these sorts of expectations clear up front is probably very, very smart, even if the whole thing probably could have been pulled off with a bit of a lighter touch.
posted by nobody at 3:24 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can this guy just go ahead and start teaching every subject? I am pretty sure that I would learn them all that way.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 4:04 AM on May 15, 2012


those are good arguments for personal use, but if your goal is to work with a larger global community it is worthwhile to adopt the standard system....

But we were talking about plywood; sorry for the hijack.


I am finding the push here for metric a bit odd, given that plywood sold in the US is 4' x 8' precisely because of how 48" and 96" overlay onto, fit within, and can be subdivided by standard imperial units used in construction. Switching to metric isn't as simple as handwaving; it also involves layers and layers of units of production and construction practices, and how they fit together.

I've done construction work in both imperial and metric, and slightly prefer the imperial. (Mostly because imperial units, because of the fractions, are a lot easier to add in your head -- 1' 1/32" plus 3' 3/32" is easy-peasy; 306mm plus 917mm takes more effort and I've seen a lot of screwups as a result.) The biggest issue, though, is when people mix the two systems and get sloppy, which is what the video is getting at by imposing a single system on the studio -- particularly important if some of your staff are coming from countries that use metric, and others are more familiar with imperial.
posted by Forktine at 4:52 AM on May 15, 2012


Funny; just last week I came across the art installations of Henrique Oliveira, which gave me a new appreciation for what can be done with the "ply" in plywood.
posted by p3t3 at 6:02 AM on May 15, 2012


Mei's lost sandal: "There are many very cool plywood boat kits out there."

Previously for awesome one-sheet-of-plywood boats.
Not to mention the Puddle Duck Racer! (I'm totally gonna make one of these this summer.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:47 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It made me question the bombast of the whole video

The bombast is exactly what makes the video awesome.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2012


Another point is that when measuring and surveying old buildings (which would have been designed in feet and inches anyway) the numbers will be whole and easy to remember in imperial - eg. 12'4" as a pose to 3759 mm.

Sure, for that singular case, sammyo. I can likewise say,
It's easier to remember 3700 mm than 12' 1 & 11/16".
Our entire manufacturing industry should not be held accountable to the ease of rehabbing old construction.

Forktine does the same mislead:
Mostly because imperial units, because of the fractions, are a lot easier to add in your head -- 1' 1/32" plus 3' 3/32" is easy-peasy; 306mm plus 917mm takes more effort and I've seen a lot of screwups as a result.)

310 mm + 940 mm is easier than 1' 13/64 + 3' 7/32.

Finally, Forktine gets to the root of the issue:
The biggest issue, though, is when people mix the two systems and get sloppy, which is what the video is getting at by imposing a single system on the studio -- particularly important if some of your staff are coming from countries that use metric, and others are more familiar with imperial.

The most valid argument is that mixed-units leads to trouble. And, since almost the ENTIRE world works in metric, and the US is a minority player in the world economy, with no indication that it's role is going to increase in this century, the sooner we transition to metric, the better.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


IAmBroom, thanks I was formulating exactly the same reply.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2012


3.51 ". . . beautiful end-grain"

lol
posted by exlotuseater at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2012


Always be lolling
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:29 AM on May 16, 2012


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