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I'm working on one of my first DIY projects that's a combination of some 3d printed parts along with one main wood piece. The goal that I'm trying to achieve is a static keyboard tray that hangs under my main table. I think I have a somewhat sturdy custom clamp that attaches to my table, and it will allow the tray to hopefully be anchored to a fixed flat piece with some 6-32 screws (image below).

enter image description here

The issue that I'm running into now is the wood board, as I need to find a board that can be cut in the following way:

enter image description here

As a complete newbie to this kind of thing, I was hoping to get some information regarding where I could find such a wood board or the most similar form factor (about 35'x28'x0.5'), along with ways of forming it into the shape needed. I think I might definitely need to use a drill for the holes, but what tool could I use for the center cuts? I would prefer not using power tools just because I don't trust myself with them yet, haha. Any help is appreciated! thanks :]

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  • Hi, welcome to Woodworking. Will this just need to support a keyboard? If so you should be able to get away with MDF or plywood. Solid wood would be stiffer, but it's more difficult to get a small panel like you need (this wouldn't be a single board, but glued up from at least three boards and possibly many narrower ones) and if it's not necessary to take more weight then MDF or ply should be fine. Also cheaper (see footnote 1 here)!
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 7:40
  • hi, thank you! yes, it will need to support both a keyboard and be hopefully steady enough for a mouse with the weight of my hand. I see, interesting! I considered using planks and gluing them together but I figured that would fall apart pretty easily, how would I glue wood together?
    – Daneolog
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 12:53
  • Sorry didn't want to give the wrong impression there, wasn't actually suggesting you make a panel. Buying in suitable material would be hurdle 1, but I don't think you'd be set up to make something like this because you just don't have the tools (you'd need to prep edges, glue and clamp, then likely sand or plane the finished panel flat). Guessing you aren't equipped for any of that. "but I figured that would fall apart pretty easily" Actually not at all, glue joints are stronger than the wood. Glue up right and joints literally can't be broken, the wood around them ALWAYS breaks instead.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 16:27
  • If you're looking to get into woodworking, do a search on "panel glue up" or "gluing up a panel". You're bound to find 10,000 examples here, on YouTube, or elsewhere with instructions and demonstrations on how to glue up a panel. It's a handy skill to have if you're getting into woodworking. If this is a one off, plywood is 100% the way to go.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 16:42
  • 1
    Could you select the Answer you found most useful and give it the tick? A thank-you is nice but this helps reward the poster for their efforts. And it gives future searchers an idea of what route you elected to take based on the various suggestions given. What should I do when someone answers my question?
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 9:52

3 Answers 3

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I think plywood will be ok for this. The price may be high currently because of wood shortage! Also I think you'd need to purchase from a supplier who will cut a piece to your size.

Tools:

  • Drill + bits.
  • Hand saw.
    • Any hand saw will do just fine
    • Here's one example:

hand saw
Example saw courtesy of Harbor Freight.

  • 1 pack of sandpaper + scrap block.

Process:

  • Mark for holes then drill.

  • Draw cutouts. Drill row of holes very close together to shape of rounded end, then saw from the edge until you touch the holes and can remove the waste piece. Perfect ASCII image for you to follow :)

_ _      _ _ 
   |    |  
   |    |
   |    |
   oooooo
  • Smooth rough end with sandpaper wrapped around beer bottle or other cylindrical shape. Start @ 80, then finish with 120.

  • Sand edges smooth, sandpaper wrapped around scrap piece. If rough start @ 80, if smooth start @ 120. Finish @ 180. Slightly round corners to prevent chipping.

  • Sand surface in direction of grain, only with 180 or 250.

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  • Most hardware stores that sell lumber will sell you offcuts for cheap. Easy to carry home, too.
    – user5572
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 21:07
  • this makes a lot of sense; a lot of my confusion with fashioning the piece was how to turn the saw mid-cut, but that holes method is very intuitive. regarding the sourcing the actual wood though, how would I find a supplier that does custom size cuts like this? there is a True Value nearby, and I thought the easiest way would be to get an oversized piece and do some trimming, like with the handsaw. who would I go to to get a custom piece?
    – Daneolog
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 0:25
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a traditional lumberyard nearby, they will probably be set up to cut to your specifications. Plan two visits: one to go and talk at the counter about what you want, and another a couple of days later to pick up the finished piece. Alternately, many big box stores have a panel saw and the ability to cut sheet goods. The wildcards are whether the saw works that day and if you can find someone qualified to cut. Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 13:45
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I was hoping to get some information regarding where I could find such a wood board or the most similar form factor (about 35'x28'x0.5'),

You can buy a 1/4 sheet (24"x48") or 1/2 sheet (48"x48") of 1/2"-thick plywood from your nearest home center (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.), and those places are usually happy to cut it to size for you, possibly for a small additional charge.

I think I might definitely need to use a drill for the holes, but what tool could I use for the center cuts? I would prefer not using power tools just because I don't trust myself with them yet, haha.

You're right -- a drill is the easiest way to add the holes you want.

I'm not clear on whether the other cuts go all the way through the panel or not. If not, a router is the best way to go. I won't explain that here since you're eager to avoid power tools anyway. If you end up going that route, just know that it's not difficult or dangerous if you have a bit of knowledge, so try to get a friend to show you how it's done.

If the U-shaped cuts do go all the way through the panel, a coping saw would be a very easy and safe option. A coping saw has a thin blade that can cut curves, and it's a good tool for a beginner because it's easy to control and quite inexpensive. I'd drill holes in the corners of each U, and then cut the straight parts with the saw.

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Do a local search for hardwood dealer or lumber yard and then call a couple up and tell them what you need. They're generally pretty accommodating and rely on good customer service skills more than the big-box stores.

Some lumber yards, hardwood suppliers, (and big-box stores) will have pre-made panels in a variety of species. You could probably persuade someone to trim it down to your exact dimensions (possibly for an additional charge).

Or, ask if they will "glue up" a panel to your dimensions. You can also choose what species of wood you want. Some lumber/hardwood dealers might do the other machining for you too.

Example: Custom milling services This is the place near me, other places near you are bound to be similar. Talk to them.

They may sell high-quality hardwood plywood (not the big-box stores) in various species in sizes as small as a quarter sheet (2'x4') or have off-cuts of plywood or other remnants available for much less than buying a full (or half) sheet.

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