Composable Construction - Plywood Connectors

*T-Shaped connector for 6mm plywood

*T-Shaped connector for 6mm plywood

Plywood Connectors for Composable Construction

It was time, my daughter had grown and needed a bigger desk she can use for homework and her craft projects. I wanted her to have a desk that was going to fit nicely into the available space in her room, give her plenty of table top space, and provide storage for books and her other collections. I knew this would be a great opportunity to try and design something custom and maybe 3D printed!

I’d seen some plywood storage designs that used connectors of different angles that allowed you to assemble forms in shapes like squares or pentagons. After not finding any suitable models on-line, I decided to make something that would work for my needs and ended up creating two types of connectors, one that would connect 1” dowels used for table legs and other supports to plywood shelves/table top, and another that would connect pieces of plywood together to form box shapes for storage.

Dowel Connector

The Dowel connector is actually 2 parts. The piece that slides over the plywood and a circular piece that slides over the dowel. As the 2 components screw together they act as a clamp around the dowel to keep it fixed in place.

Plywood connectors

Here’s the 90 degree plywood connector:

And the ‘T’ shaped plywood connector:

3-D Printing

All of the connectors are printed in Esun PLA+ which is surprisingly strong/stiff… I used more filament that I thought I would for these parts, but I wanted them to be strong. All told, I think it would require about 1Kg of filament to print all the parts to build…

My rather speedy 3D printer was able to spit these parts out over a couple of days. I probably could’ve printed them a bit quicker, but was iterating on the design as I went. The ‘T’ shaped connectors took about 1.5 hours to print, the 90 degree connectors took about 45 minutes each.

Wooden components

As for the wood parts, I picked up a standard sheet of 1/2” plywood from the hardwood store and had them rip it down to 4 equal sized pieces (about 24” wide) which made it super easy to put in the car… About $90 for the ply, and picked up 4x 1” dowels which set me back another $20. When I got them home I cut the dowels down to desired height, cut 2 pieces of the plywood to size for the desktop and shelves, and used a router to round over the edges. A quick sanding of all the parts got rid of the hard edges.

Assembly

With a little creativity, you can combine the connectors to create a desk and storage area… Many different combinations are available depending on what you have available for wood.

Here’s a picture of the completed desk.

It turned out relatively stable and hasn’t collapsed yet. I wouldn’t climb on it, but it seems sturdy enough for intended use… I’m interested to see if the PLA parts warp over time becoming too loose to support the legs, but so far so good.

Ultimately, I’d like to update the design so that one could make 2 desks from a single sheet of plywood, and with a few tweaks to the dimensions I think I can get there. No matter, with the new connectors, I’m sure I can do something creative with the remaining pieces, it seems like we’re always running out of storage!