Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

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kpsf1964
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Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by kpsf1964 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:52 pm

We're building a wing-shaped bar for our camp and we want to face it with aluminum - both the bar top, which is 1-1/8" plywood, and the front panels, which are 3/4" structural plywood.

I see that you can get very thin-gauge aluminum but I want to pick a thin-enough gauge that it's easy to bend and glue to the plywood as needed, but thick enough to take some abuse. Because there WILL be abuse. Any recommendations on the best gauge to use based on those requirements?

Also: my contractor campmate thinks we can glue the aluminum sheeting directly to the plywood with Liquid Nails - just trowel it in and apply pressure. Can anyone confirm, or recommend better?

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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by skippy3k » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:20 pm

I have done this but for a different application. I bent it around plywood and glued it down, but I also used some screws and washers along the sides just in case. For a bar, it would be nice to not have that hardware poking up, even along the sides. But if it was me, I would probably use the extra reinforcement. The aesthetics aren't worth the potential safety issue of an edge popping up.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by LowePro » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:28 pm

Bet the aluminum would try to flex a lot due to sunlight and heat fluctuations, second the notion to include some screws or hardware in addition to liquid nails.

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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by Eric » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:44 pm

Third the idea of using washers & screws on the edges. This is the playa - over-engineer or go home, because something will happen to it, and it won't be the thing you planned for.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by Meat Hunter » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:54 pm

If I were laying thin sheet aluminum onto plywood, I would lay it the same way that I attach Formica to a flat or curved plywood surface via. contact cement.

1. Cut and dry fit the aluminum

2. Spread a thin layer of contact cement on both the plywood and the aluminum and allow to 3 dry until both become tacky

4. Lay strips of narrow/thin/dry wood on top of the plywood

5. Position the aluminum on top of the wood strips

6. Beginning on one side, remove the strips of wood one at a time and press the aluminum down on the plywood

7. Once all the strips of wood are removed, use a hard rubber roller and roll the aluminum

That is the way that I would do it. As is the norm, there is probably more than one way to sell a dead cat.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by MFOB » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:58 pm

Liquid Nails is fine to make the Alum adhere. Or use any contractor grade construction adhesive like Locktite, PL Premium, DAP, etc. Youll want to use the Heavy Duty version of each of them. Then get a rubber roller that one would use to apply laminate to a countertop and roll it out. If you're using lgiht flexible stuff, you can also use the laminate countertop adhesive. Its like heave duty contact cement, again, apply it and roll it on with a rubber roller.

Speaking of tacking it down, instead of heavy headed hex screws with rubber washers. Find yourself some nice 1/2" or 3/4" nails that are silver as well, not galvinized, I'm thinking that the nails to attach carpet tack strips would work. If you attach them with correct spacing you could make it look like rivets, or for that mater, you could just use rivets with washers on the back of the plywood.

If you so choose, and you have corners to wrap, you can tack the alum on the corners and attach a piece of angle to cover the nails.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by Popeye » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:34 pm

Liquid Nails is great for a wood to wood bond but I doubt it will work as well metal to wood.
Try epoxy, not the little tubes but maybe something from West Systems.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by trilobyte » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:42 pm

+1 to using screws/bolts. Glues are always a bigger pain to work with than you think, risk getting screwed up (crack/break/coming loose) while moving and driving to and from the event, behave strangely in the extreme temps (with 100+ degree air temps and then it being a bar that has sun beating down on it, it's going to get extremely hot. Night-time (or when ice and cold drinks are on it) will be the opposite.

Good luck with whatever you go with, take pics and come back and show us what you end up doing :)

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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by kpsf1964 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:46 pm

FANTASTIC - thanks all for the feedback!

Any suggestions on what gauge aluminum sheeting to use? 30- or 36-gauge looks like it cuts and bends well - any comments?

http://www.whimsie.com/gauge%20wire.html

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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by MFOB » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:10 pm

Probably 30 on wrapped/rounded portions that are not used for using. ie: front of bar.

Maybe 24 or 26 for the bar top. Using 30 or 36 would dent easily and look crappy after a while.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by kpsf1964 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:22 pm

MFOB, thanks - there are some smaller pieces on the ends that I can experiment with I think that's sound.

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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by Meat Hunter » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:45 pm

What ever method you use to attach your aluminum to your plywood, you might wish to take a look at the " ] " shaped aluminum strips that one often sees used on the edges of Formica covered counter tops in high traffic areas that keep the edges of the Formica from lifting.

These long strips have screw holes every 6-8" for screws to screw into the side of the plywood, the upper lip laps over the edge of the Formica and the lower lip laps under the plywood.

Although they are somewhat ridged, I have seen them used on large radius bends.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by tatonka » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:46 pm

found this site here at eplaya , its for glueing stuff to stuff and tells ya what to use

http://www.thistothat.com/cgi-bin/glue. ... that=Metal
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by FlyingMonkey » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:36 am

I don't know what your skill sets are but have you considered using something like aluminized fiberglass with a nice clear epoxy coat? Fiberglass layup is pretty easy to do & if you epoxy coat it you can imbed lighting or objects under the surface.

Just a thought.
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by Patsh » Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:16 am

kpsf1964, will it be strong enough to dance on? :wink:
With 30 gauge, you'll get a patina pretty fast... (well, not technically, but you could consider it that)

Thanks for the link, tatonka!
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by kpsf1964 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:31 am

Patsh wrote:kpsf1964, will it be strong enough to dance on? :wink:
With 30 gauge, you'll get a patina pretty fast... (well, not technically, but you could consider it that)

Thanks for the link, tatonka!

Awwww, HELL yeah . . . 1-1/8" plywood is no joke. Only issue is that the shade structure is only 8' high.

But we can solve that with a box cutter I suppose. Or do the Limbo. Or the Gator.

ONE MORE QUESTION: I live in the Bay Area - any recommendations for places to get thin aluminum sheet for a reasonable price? I know of one place in Redwood City and there's Building Resources in Bayview here in SF - any other food leads?

kpsf1964
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Re: Tips on cladding plywood with aluminum?

Post by kpsf1964 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:36 am

Patsh wrote:kpsf1964, will it be strong enough to dance on? :wink:
With 30 gauge, you'll get a patina pretty fast... (well, not technically, but you could consider it that)

Thanks for the link, tatonka!

That is EXACTLY why I chose 1-1/8" plywood, Patsh - although the height of the shade structure is going to make for interesting dances - or interesting dance choices ;-)

We want the wing bar to look like abandoned tech, so a little oxidation/patina is good!

ONE MORE QUESTION: I live in SF - any recommendations for places to get thin aluminum sheet for a reasonable price? I know of one place in Redwood City and there's Building Resources in Bayview here in SF - any other good leads?

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