My tryst with wood - Ranjani Chandran's journey with recycling plywood

About the artist and author of this post: Ranjani Chandran is an amateur hobbyist. She loves painting, especially focusing on indian folk art and she tries and reuses as many discards as she can to upcycle them into intriguing pieces of work. She is also a foodie who loves to cook. She has been learning carnatic vocal music as a part of Mathrubrundam, an initiative by Dr. Seetha Rajan. She also likes photography, swimming and is currently learning kalari payattu which she finds very addictive. All this comes later! She has a humble home and two boys that she loves supremely !

Wood is one of the most interesting materials I have worked with after terracotta. That it had scope to be transformed into a piece of art is something I  stumbled upon by accident.

Carpentry work was happening at home and I was all alone watching over the house. Strewn with tools, pieces of reapers and cut out wastes of 6MM ply, fevicol, nails… and to inspire me my carpenter was perfect and patient with measurements and design. Watching his precision tingled a thought in my mind.

I picked up the pencil, scale and the 6MM ply, and drew six 4-inch square boxes. Then I picked up his hacksaw when he was out for lunch and cut them out. My hands were killing me but the achievement factor kept me going. I had six pieces. Next I sandpapered it all to get a smooth finish on all four sides.  

He came back and his jaw dropped to see me do something so crazy! 

Now that I had the pieces, I decided to experiment with paints. This is how my journey started and Maya- Craving to create was born. Now, its my fourth year as a hobbyist and I can say that I am comfortable with a lot of media after so many experiments and the spirit to stop wastage.

I would like to share with you how I go about this process and encourage you to try it too. Why? Because I think today recycling is a very important concept and ply wood can be beautifully recycled. Also we are now so equipped with supplies that experimenting will not really cost us much, on the other hand it gives us a moral boost – chance to feel like a five year old all over again.

Keep a few things in mind before you venture into this for a better understanding.
  • Make sure the piece is cut out properly. For eg: edges should have a precise 90 degree angle on all sides.
  • Sandpapering all the sides is very important. This will give it the required smoothness. An 80 or 100 grade sandpaper will do the job for plys or all kinds, 4MM to 1-inch. Sandpaper is available in any plywood shop.
  • Always apply termite control oil and leave the piece of wood for drying at least for 24 hours before starting art work on it. Termite oil is a tin bottle you can get in any shop that sells ply wood boards. It costs around Rs 80.
  • Use water only to wash off paint from the brush. Else wood will absorb water and tend to warp over a period of time.
  • Make sure paints are fresh. If they are old and thick then they can be used as base paint.  When you paint the base make sure you also paint the sandpapered area so that the remaining frays on the sides get further smoothened by the smeared paint.
  • There are two ways to look at painting wood. One is to retain the texture of it and give it the grainy look and the other is to quote it with at least three layers of base paint and make it look like a smooth surface. 
    • After the base paint (acrylic) is done you can compose your picture in it either directly or using a carbon copy. 
    • All painting rules apply here too. Only advantage is acrylic can be corrected, that is, painted over. However, this has a drawback. It leaves a sticky finish on the surface.
    • In the end giving it a quote of varnish will make sure the piece of art remains in tact for a significant period of time. Either your carpenter will be able to do it for you or you can buy yourself varnish aerosol cans from any art supply store.
      MDF can also be painted on, the only thing is you need to make sure absolutely no water gets in contact with MDF, before during or after the process of painting it. The advantage in MDF is that it can be machine cut into various shapes allowing such a large scope for creativity in terms of art work on it and the usage of that item.

      Why wood is close to my heart is because it is versatile. It can be used as a base to stick tiles on. It can be used as a frame for a mirror. Photo frames can be made out of up-cycled wood. Glass paintings can be framed with pieces of wood where in you can continue the concept on two different textures. Tea coasters can be made out of small pieces of ply. Pebbles can be affixed on wood because it can bear the weight.

      Although it took me more than two months to finish I enjoyed every minute I spent on it.

      Get up and grab you piece of waste wood from the nearest ply wood show room and try your hand at it!

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      1. Nice post... well written by ranjani chandrans , it 's nice idea to recycle furniture.
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      2. Nice post. Thanks for sharing the procedure..

      3. Nice post. Thanks for sharing the procedure..

        1. It can be used as a frame for a mirror. Photo frames can be made out of up-cycled wood. Glass paintings can be framed with pieces of wood where in you can continue the concept on two different textures.

      4. @Somu Padmanabhan

        elegantly composed by ranjani chandrans , it 's pleasant thought to reuse furniture.


        1. Hi Rakhi, I completely agree with you. Thanks a lot for dropping by :)

      5. really great concept Somu Padmanabhan.


      6. Nice concept to recycle furniture N plywood ..!! good job..!!

      7. It can be utilized as a casing for a mirror. Photograph casings can be made out of up-cycled wood. Glass compositions can be encircled with bits of wood where in you can proceed with the idea on two unique surfaces.

      8. Nice post. Thanks for sharing the procedure..

      9. Nice post. Thanks for sharing the procedure..

      10. HI, Very informative & Amazing concept to recycle furniture.

      11. Well Done Mr. Rajani chandrans, very innovative concept to recycle plywood with a decorative home furnishings, and they are beautiful too.
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      12. Partition screen made from mango wood with MDF design and adding a touch of elegance to your living room by placing the unit in a Zig-Zag can be used for separates puja space from the rest of the house and can be used for decorating purposes and added with our range of temple as a pooja room.if you want this partition screen you can visits our websites.and available free shipping across India.

      13. Really,this is a very good art created by you.I must try this at home.

      14. Great Article about recycling. Nice thought to reprocess a furniture and plywood

      15. I agree With You. Wood is one of the most interesting materials.It had scope to be transformed into a piece of art whatever you want it.

      16. Hi Ranjani,
        I already tried wood kind of work but doesn't look like as your. can you suggest some tips for this?

      17. Nice post. Thanks for sharing the procedure. For more info visit us : Kent complaint number

      18. hi, Ranjani Chandran.This is very informative and amazing concept to recycle furniture. Really great post. Thanks for sharing the information.

      19. Great Post, Thanks for sharing the Procedure.

      20. Hello, Awesome blog..// I totally agree with you.. Thanks for sharing the good blog and good information.. Again Thanku..!!

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      22. its great concept thanks for share it

      23. thanks for share great post well written by ranjani chandrans

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      26. Recyle of plywood is a good initiative to save woods.Thanks for this this wonderful article.

      27. grate crafting idea using them we can decorate our home very nicely.

      28. crafting is my first love....i tried all the crafting posted above....

      29. Great Article concerning utilisation. Nice thought to recycle a piece of furniture and plyboard. I must try this at home. Thanks for sharing this post...

      30. Very helpful content. I'm definitely going to use a few of these points. Thanks for sharing!
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