How to Make a Patterned Plywood Handle

Learn how to make a patterned plywood handle with a step-by-step guide and video tutorial.

I recently discovered the beauty of patterned plywood. I had some plywood leftovers in my shop and I used them to make a patterned wooden handle for a coping saw I was building. I was honestly surprised by how the handle turned out – it came out amazing. Here is how I did it.

I was interested in what are the possibilities of plywood and how it could be used for design purposes after I built my plywood vise. For the vise project, I glued several plywood pieces together to make the jaws and I liked the outcome pattern. 

I investigated a little bit and I came across several plywood patterned projects, especially from Michael Alm, and I loved it. So I decided to give it a go and try a patterned plywood project using some of the birch plywood I had in my shop. Since I was building a coping saw at that time I thought it would be a great opportunity to try it and I decided to go with a patterned handle.

Check out the Moxon vise and the coping saw projects where I am using patterned plywood designs.

A wood handle made out of patterned plywood and brass pins. Patterned Plywood Ideas.
Pattern plywood handle - herringbone pattern

Patterned Plywood Handle Video

If you want to see how I made the patterned handle, watch the video below or check it out on my Youtube Channel.

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Materials and Tools for the Project:

Baltic Birch Plywood 12mm –
Wood Glue –
Epoxy –
Painters/Masking Tape –
Brass Pins –
Lacquer –

Shopmade alternative:
Woodworker coping saw

Drilling and Driving Set – Bosch Bit Set
Drilling and Driving Set* – Dewalt Drill Bit Set
Orbital Sander –
Sandpaper –

Trim Router –
Hand Drill –
Clamps –

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What is plywood used for?

Plywood is a great material. It’s flexible, durable, lightweight, eco-friendly, and cheaper in comparison to other more appealing types of wood. Unfortunately, plywood is considered as the “make-do” material which is usually used for construction and industrial purposes. Its main use can be found in roofing and flooring, wall sheathing, furniture, cabinets, and other general projects. 

Though many wouldn’t think of this material as the material of choice for wood design projects. You can create some awesome and stunning plywood patterned projects using the end grain of a plywood sheet. The better the quality of plywood the better the result. High-quality birch plywood would be the best choice.

What is patterned plywood?

Patterned plywood, also known as decorative plywood, features intricate designs formed by layering thin wood veneers of different shades. These veneers are bonded under pressure and heat to create a sturdy, visually appealing material. It’s used in furniture making for elegant pieces like cabinets and tables, as well as in interior design for wall paneling and architectural details. Its unique patterns also make it popular for crafting decorative items and artistic wall art.

How to make patterned plywood?

For patterned plywood projects, it’s recommended to use higher-grade plywood. The better quality of plywood the better the result. If possible, go for high-quality plywood, like baltic birch. It is also better to use plywood without voids and knots between the plies – this will affect the quality of the finished project. 

There are multiple patterns you can create with plywood end-grain. Some are easier, some more complicated. You can go from a more simple “tree” pattern to a more advanced one like a chevron or hexagon. The process of creating patterned plywood is dependent on the selected pattern but these are the steps you will usually find in all the designs:

  1. Select the right plywood type for your project. Go with Baltic Birch if possible.
  2. Rip the plywood sheets into multiple strips. The width of the strip will turn into the height of the panel.
  3. Glue all the pieces together and cut according to the desired pattern. You might need to repeat this step several times depending on the pattern.
  4. Plane and sand the final sheet.
  5. Apply wood finish on the finalized patterned board.

How to Finish End Grain Plywood?

There are a few ways how to finish end-grain plywood. The most important part is to make it waterproof. The steps below describe the process. Although not every step is necessary.

  1. Sand the plywood surface with sandpaper of different grit sizes. Start from 60 up to 300.
  2. You can apply a conditioner to prevent the wood from staining/blotching.
  3. Seal the surface with a sanding sealer or shellac. This will prevent the plywood from absorbing too much finish.
  4. Apply polyurethane or lacquer to create a nice smooth finish and to protect the wood.

Optionally, you can sand the surface between each coat to get a perfectly smooth finish. If you are building a serving tray or a chopping board you can also raise the grain with water during the sanding process.

Protects indoor wood surfaces such as furniture, windows, cabinets, trim and more

Let's Start

How to Make a Plywood Patterned Wooden Handle

I am making a wood handle for a coping saw and I decided to go with a herringbone pattern (tree pattern). I used some of the plywood leftovers I had in my shop.

Step 1: Cut the Plywood Strips

I started by cutting a plywood piece into short strips on a table saw. The width of the strip will become the thickness of the patterned panel.

NOTE: Cut the strips a bit wider to count with material loss from trimming and sanding.

Cutting plywood strips to make a patterned panel

Step 2: Glue the Strips Together

I glued all the strips together in a tree pattern leaving the end grain facing upwards. I put down painter’s tape underneath to protect my workbench from glue drips and also to easily remove the panel once the glue-up is completely dry. Take into account that these patterned panels will take a lot of glue. 

I made a simple fence for the panel. Fixed 2 sides with clamps and once ready I clamped the opposite sides together. (An adjustable clamping jig for variable sizes of panels would come in handy though. That would make the glue up much easier in the future.)

Clamp the panel tight to get rid of holes in the pattern. I did this twice to end up with 2 identical panels for both sides of the handle.

Tree patterned plywood sheet
Plywood tree pattern

Step 3: Plane and Sand the Panel

Once the panel was completely dry I used a trim router to get the panel even and to trim it to size. I used my Dado router jig as a sled which served very well for these purposes. You can also use a planer, a sander, or a homemade router sled.

Trimming and leveling a plywood panel using a router dado leveling jig

Step 4: Cut the Panels into Rectangles

Next, I brought the panels to my table saw and cut them into rectangles. You should end up with two mirror-inverted strips. One for each side of the handle. This way the pattern on the plywood strips will follow each other beautifully.

Cutting and shaping a plywood patterned panel

Step 5: Glue the Patterned Strips to the Tool

Once finished with the cuts glue the plywood patterned strips to the tool. Make sure the pattern is lined up and follows from one strip to another.

Gluing plywood sheets on a tool and making a wooden handle

Step 6: Design and Shape the Handle

Now the fun part! Let the glue dry and refine the handle to the desired shape. I used a wheel grinder, a sander, and sandpaper of different grit sizes. There are multiple ways how to do it.

It is always a surprise to see how the patterned plywood reacts to shaping and what the edges will look like once finished. 

Designing a wooden handle for a workshop tool

Step 7: Apply Finish

Apply the desired finish of your choice. I used spray lacquer which is not only going to protect the handle for a long time but also will bring out the pattern and the colors of the plywood.

Applying lacquer spray to wooden coping saw handle. How to waterproof plywood.

DONE! This is what the finished handle looks like!

Plywood patterned wood handle
Plywood patterned handle - plywood patterned projects
Wooden Handle made from patterned plywood

My Thoughts

I am so excited about how this patterned plywood handle turned out. It really exceeded my expectations taking into account it was made out of plywood scraps. There is proof plywood does not have to be used only in construction but can be used for design purposes as well. If you are planning on making a wooden handle, then try this method.

This was quite a simple plywood pattern and the result looks just awesome. I wonder how a more complicated pattern would look.

The pattern on this handle follows up perfectly and I can’t wait to start another project. A knife handle perhaps a bowl or a tabletop. What do you think? I definitely encourage you to give it a go and build something with this technique.

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About the author, Lukas
About the author, Lukas

Meet the creator of AllFlavor Workshop! As a passionate DIYer and woodworking enthusiast, Lukas is always looking for ways to make things himself rather than buying them off the shelf. With a keen eye for design and a knack for working with wood, Lukas enjoys sharing his craft with others and helping them discover the joy of building. Whether you're an experienced woodworker or a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby, you're sure to find plenty of inspiration and tips on AllFlavor Workshop.