There are some construction projects which necessitate the use of materials that are incredibly pliable. This is especially true when a curved or bent structure or structural component needs to be made. When it is desired that such structures or components be made out of wood, flexible plywood is one of the better bets.
Flexible plywood can be made from just about any type of lumber that can be cut thin to become more pliable, such as birch or hoop pine. More than simple flexibility is desired. As is the case with hoop pine, it is also often desirable to have a wood that will not need to be laminated. Hoop pine prevents this need as it is relatively close-grained, so the grain does not need to be concealed. Birch also has a very tight grain pattern. Other pliable, tightly grained woods can also be used.
The veneers used to make flexible plywood are somewhat different than the veneers used to make other forms of plywood. More than anything else, they are much thinner. At the very least, flexible plywood is thinnest at its core. Sometimes the plies on either side of the core veneer are somewhat thicker. Even when this is the case, these outer plies are usually treated to ensure that they can bend more easily. This gives the thin and flexible core a stable exterior without sacrificing its pliability.
Flexible plywood uses a phenol bonding system, which has to be relatively strong. This is because flexible plywood is essentially useless if it is not able to maintain its shape when it is bent or curved. It must maintain structural integrity, allowing for easy use in a wide range of applications. The glue used is often resistant to heat and moisture, making this wood even more usable.
Some do not consider flexible plywood to be true plywood, as it is not cross-grained in the same fashion. Instead, it is either column wrapped or barrel wrapped. Column wrapping is when the wood is cut so that the grain runs in the same direction as the longer dimensions of the wood, while barrel wrapping is the exact opposite. The essential difference is the direction in which the wood curves most easily.
Flexible plywood is useful for just about any construction-based or industrial purpose that demands a high degree of flexibility and the ability to curve wood easily. It makes for great furniture pieces, as it is easy to stain or to apply wax or lacquer, and it can be curved well into completely circular objects or even into S-shapes.
Aside from basic furnishings such as chairs, cabinets, or even lamps, flexible plywood can be used to make certain specialty items. At one point in time, it was even used to make stovepipe hats. Today, it is used for many ornamental purposes. It can also be used for many small crafted items, such as model airplanes, boats or trains. Other toys can be made as well. The list of specialty uses includes unique items such as wine cases, and at one point in time it was even used to make stovepipe hats.
Since flexible plywood can be manufactured very thin, it can be used for certain types of posters or other decorative boards. While this use is not necessarily as common, it is made possible by the same qualities that lead many to classify flexible plywood as something other than true plywood. Flexible plywood can also be used for certain types of special packaging.
Flexible plywood, also known by many other names such as bendy ply and hatters ply, has a number of uses. Manufactured to be incredibly pliable and easy to work with, this flexible plywood is useful whenever an easily curved or generally thin material is needed.