If you have read my past posts you will know that I use acrylic to make my press-forming moulds. This is the way I was taught to make moulds and though I use off cuts and plan to recycle at end of use I still have many concerns about using acrylic. After talking to fellow makers I’m now looking at using plywood. The lamination of wood veneer makes plywood a good alternative. It won’t shrink with the grain like a normal block of wood and due to this cross layering of grains in the laminate the mould is less likely to crack or split like acrylic. The ply I am using is birch but only because I have lots of leftovers from making my bench. It’s still advisable to use a stainless steel sheet for the top layer of the tool as this will give the tool greater longevity and accuracy. Just remember to file the edges of the steel in the cut-out with a slight radius to help the l ‘flow’ and to prevent any tears in the sheet being pressed. The urea formaldehyde glues used in the lamination of the plywood are used widely in the wood and paper industry. I’m struggling to find out much on it’s environmental impact but as a natural synthetic glue it is thought that it could be carcinogenic so use a good face mask when shaping the ply to stop you breathing in the dust. If you have any more information on using ply that you could impart please let me know. Once you go down this road and start looking into the environmental impact of materials and chemicals that we use in our daily practice it can get very complicated to work out which is the best route. With the plywood I know the majority of the material comes from a renewable source if I buy it FSC - Forest Stewardship Council approved and at end of use it will decompose unlike the petrochemical acrylic. One of the striking things I noticed about using birch ply is the oh so familiar smell which instantly transports me back to my childhood playing with wooden jigsaw puzzles. Nothing really changes!