Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plywood Nuc, Redux

After trying the nuc from the plans I got from this website, using 1/4 inch plywood, I was frustrated with the flimsiness of the box and the difficulty of assembly with nails. The plans were not clear as to the thickness of the plywood, and I had obviously chosen wrong.  Interestingly, it rained today and that nuc, left outside, warped terribly!  So frustrated and bored I headed to Home Depot to try again.
Yuck

This time I began with a 1/2 inch (15/32) panel, 2 ft by 4 ft.
Using the exact measurements from these plans, I made just one alteration.  I wanted my nuc top to be flush with the sides rather than overhanging so that I might gang nucs together in winter and their adjacent walls can butt up against each other to conserve heat.  My nuc top, therefore, had a dimension of 8 1/2 inches wide.

Here is the panel with the layout lines drawn.  As earlier mentioned, there is very little waste and cutting takes about five minutes.

By the way, this panel cost about $10, expensive for a nuc.  I would splurge the $13 for the 1 x 12 x 8ft if this is the cost.  However, a 4 x 8 sheet of the same quality of ply sells for about $18.  Given that one can get four nucs out of that sheet, slightly less than $5 a nuc starts to feel right.  Given the cost of cardboard nucs, especially when one includes shipping, these nucs get competitive. 

Labor, however, remains an issue.  I would not tackle these nucs on a larger scale without the following equipment:
  • Table saw, for accuracy of cuts, squareness of cuts, and speed;
  • Jigs for making consistent sizes;
  • Pnumatic nailer for quick assembly.
I, unfortunately, was limited to my circular saw, framing square, and drill.  Note that I used screws (1-inch drywall) to assemble which made for a tight and strong box.  Pre-drilling, however, was a necessity to prevent splintering and slowed production.  In all assembly took the better part of 1/2 an hour on my kitchen island. 
Here it is in all its glory.  A little rough but very functional and strong.  Note that the front has not had the access hole drilled, which I will add later, just above the landing board.

Ignore my top, which ended with the correct width but my ability to measure length with kids running around is clearly inhibited.  Your top will be better.

Pros:
- Cheap if one buys plywood by the sheet;
- Strong;
- Easy assembly with the right tools.

Cons:
- Large production necessary to achieve economies of scale;
- Still more labor than a cardboard box.

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