— Dane Creek

Plywerk Mounting Panel Review

I hate framing.

I’ve taught it many times to photographers, and I start every class by telling the attendees how much framing is a pain. Even though I frame my own images if you only do a few every year I’m a firm believer in outsourcing it to the pros (if you’re in the Seattle area, Museum Quality Framing is your friend!)

But what do you do if you want a finished presentation for your image and aren’t willing to pay for framing? You could do a gallery-wrapped canvas, but those are pretty expensive too.

Enter the folks at Plywerk. They sell pre-cut pieces of either plywood or bamboo panels complete with an optional adhesive layer that you can stick your photo on.

5632467797_ea31aba1e1_b
Maple and bamboo plywerk panels. Image courtesy Plywerk.com.

When I first found the site I figured what the heck and ordered a set of three 10×10” and four 4×4” bamboo panels. My plan was to split a couple of images across the sets of panels and then hang them on the wall.

I apologize for not having photos of the assembly process, but I was excited to get working with the panels and forgot to take pictures. I started with the 4×4” panels as I figured they were cheap to replace if I screwed up. Things went very well, although I did get a speck of dirt between one print and a panel. Lesson learned: dust things off first.

Assembly is trivial, even on the slightly larger 10×10” panels. I split the image into three 10×10” prints on Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk paper. The panels come slightly undersized so I had enough bleed to ensure the image went over the edge of the panel. I peeled the protective sheet off the adhesive and carefully stuck my print on the panel. A quick trim of the edges with an X-acto knife and I was done. Start to finish to do the three panels was less than 10 minutes.

Yes, that’s right. 10 minutes to “frame” three prints. Hell, I can’t even get my giant mat cutter set up in 10 minutes. And forget about spraying and stretching a canvas print in that time!

I was very pleased with the result and everyone who’s seen them is impressed with the look. Here’s the three panels hanging in my hall:

IMG_9588
Three 10×10” bamboo plywerk panels.

They also look really nice from the side as well:

IMG_9589

From a mounting perspective I ignored the giant keyhole slot in the back. That just seems like a recipe for far too much futzing to get three level, evenly spaced, things mounted. Instead I opted for the awesome Command Small Picture Hanging Strips. Two at the top of each plywerk and two regular frame bumpers at the bottom was all it took to get these up on the wall.

The only thing I’d do differently next time is try ordering the panels without the adhesive. While convenient it does add to the cost of each panel and I’m betting I could get by just fine with some 3M adhesive spray.

Overall I was very impressed. I’ll definitely be ordering more down the road!

Edit: The folks from Plywerk commented over at Luminous Landscape regarding my thoughts on 3M adhesive. Here’s what they had to say:

Neil of Dane Creek (thank you for your awesome blogpost btw) mentioned that he might try 3M Super 77 next time. I actually used this product for about a year when I was mounting my wife’s photography to Plywood panels and selling them at the Portland Saturday Market back in 2005/6 prior to starting Plywerk. However, after about a year I started to get people coming back to me with peeling images. Next time I was at market I found an image that I knew had been around for over 6 months, pulled it out the bag, pulled the corner and the whole print peeled of the wood with zero effort. It felt like pulling of an apple iphone static screen protector if you know what I mean. Wink My wife and I stopped production, pulled out of the market and I spent the next 6 months researching adhesives. The one we use now is an even better derivative of the one that came out best in my R&D back then. We have personally got Plywerk (even one in our bathroom, next to the shower, not recommended btw Wink) that have been going strong for almost six years now with no signs of peeling. I would also like to note that since that time we’ve put in many hours of continued R&D. We take great pride in our product and as such run the company with a ideology of constant improvement.

Note: I paid for everything mentioned in this review. Plywerk didn’t know I was going to write a review when I ordered, and I get no compensation of any sort from them.