For those not very familiar with plastics, it is sometimes difficult to tell the plastics apart. A plastic rod feels like, well, just plastic and we don’t consider sometimes the nuances of each material. One major consideration for those of us in the DIY community is how a material is fabricated or machined. Acetal is a very hard plastic and machines very well and can be held to tight tolerances (+/- 0.005″) whereas realistically (+/- 0.05″) is the best you can get out of UHMW in a DIY setting. UHMW is much softer and less dimensionally stable; however, it is slicker and more economical.

A short video on YouTube we found shows both plastics being machined and offers a comparison, take a look below:

Often members of the DIY community are unsure how to machine engineering plastics. It’s one of the main questions that comes up. Redwood Plastics and Rubber has a handy sheet that gives both tooling and run speeds for various common industrial plastics. You can see those below:




FRP wall panels are great for protecting walls in mud rooms, shops, bathrooms – basically anywhere you need easy-to-clean wall protection. However, it’s not just as simple as nailing in a few sheets of panel, you will need to plan ahead for your project.

We recommend you get some graph paper first and get some measuring tape. Go to the room you’re going to put the sheets into and measure the width of all the walls. Make notes of how many inside or outside corners you have in the room at this stage. Now note that the FRP wall panel sheets are all going to be 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 12′ in size. How are you going to orientate them? If you need only coverage right near the floor, you could potentially put the sheets sideways to save on the total the amount of sheets you require. Sketch that onto your graphic paper because you will need to know how many sheets to put on a given wall. The reason for this is that you require dividers (known as ‘j-trims’) for the spaces between the panels on a given length of wall.

All j-trims, inside and outside corners come in 10′ lengths. You need to consider that you may need extra of those to cut-to-size to fit into your project. Lastly, you need to consider FRP adhesive. Many jobs are not actually done by nailing in FRP panel to the wall. Instead a special FRP adhesive is used that comes in 4 gallon buckets. Each bucket covers 200 square feet of surface area. Based off of 4′ x 8′ panels (32 square feet) or 4′ x 10′ panels (40 square feet) add up the total square footage of your panels divided by 200 and then round up…That’s how many buckets of FRP adhesive you require. Also factor in you will want to have a trowel to spread the adhesive onto the panels.

At this point you should be ready to quote! You now know 1.) how many panels you need 2.) how many j-trims/inside/outside corners you need along with 3.) required adhesive. You’re set to purchase the material and get started!


Sheet Rubber For DIY Applications

Posted: October 3, 2018 in Uncategorized
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Rubber is a topic we haven’t covered much on this blog so this is overdue! The main thing we hear is that people don’t really understand what types of rubber are out there or what they need for an application. Often people will ask for “neoprene” since it’s the only name they know. Neoprene has obtained a good reputation because it’s similar to a multi-tool: it does many things good, but it also isn’t optimal in many applications and a discussion with a rubber expert can lead you to a much better rubber choice.

Several other types of rubber including EPDM, natural gum, butyl, Viton, silicone, and SBR exist. In addition, each of those types of rubber exist in various strata of quality – general purpose, commercial grade, and premium grade. For example, natural gum rubber while being ‘natural’ is actually a premium grade product. We know of cases where people get quotes on natural rubber, primarily because it comes in some colors, and are shocked at the price. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: with plastics (and rubber) you will pay a premium for color with almost every product. When it comes to applications if at all possible it is best to take the default color it comes in.

Rubber varies widely in properties. For example, “neoprene” is not resistant to some common chemicals and is poor with extreme temperatures. But if you’re unsure of your applications requirements you may use it in a place it will fail. Likewise, Safeguard gum rubber, while expensive, has exceptional UV-resistance and functions well over a wide temperature range. Other rubbers have severe limitations with UV and mechanical properties. Again, you wouldn’t know if you didn’t ask!

Redwood Plastics and Rubber has an excellent line card breaking down many types of rubber to various categories and giving their strengths and weaknesses. Click on the link in the previous sentence to view a downloadable copy.

Plastic lumber is a product that is of interest to many in the DIY community. As a recycled and durable replacement for wood the appeal of the product is obvious and applications are only limited by the imagination. However, plastic lumber is only suitable for certain applications and unlike lumber is not “one size fits all”. Here are three important things you need to know about plastic lumber:

1.) There are structural and non-structural grades.

Not many people know that some plastic lumber cannot be used for a load-bearing structure. This means that it is not safe to make into benching or a picnic table for example. Structural grades DO exist but you need to request them and ensure what you’re buying is “structural”. This usually is a fiberglass reinforced product.

2.) Color affects cost

This trait about plastic lumber is even less known. Yes, the product can be obtained in a veritable rainbow of colors; however, certain colors are expensive and it’s not simply a choice between “black or color”. Some colors such as yellow may cost up to 50% more than black! As a customer, you need to know this and consider the cost colors may add when you request a quote.

3.) It’s rarely stocked

With so many colors and profiles of lumber (dozens) it’s rare to find it stocked. It is usually brought in on a special order, so know how many lengths of each size you require for your job when making a request for quote. This also means you can expect up to 4-6 weeks for your shipment to arrive, so plan ahead!

4.) It’s expensive

This is a biggie. As a “recycled” product that’s also “just plastic” many customers unfortunately get sticker shock when quoted. Make no mistake, there is no hiding it, plastic lumber will not at all compete with the price of wood: full stop. Certain lumber profiles can reach into several hundred dollars per length and even the humble 2×4 will be close to $100.00/length landed cost. Before getting your hopes too high for your application – understand that you are buying a premium, small-run, product that is priced accordingly.

5.) It’s awesome

For those that invest in plastic lumber it really is as good as advertised. Resisting insect attack, rot, rust, mold, and splintering – the product really is excellent! You just need to make sure you have realistic expectations of the cost, the timeline for your order, and ensure you’ve selected the correct grade.


With a name like “Marine Board” you’d assume this variety of polyethylene has really only one purpose…Marine applications. But this really isn’t thinking outside of the box because the properties of the plastic are so adaptable to a variety of applications. If you’ve been on a newer boat you may have already encountered marine board. It would appear to be a high quality plastic with a textured orange peel surface. It can be cut, sawed, and drilled like wood with the same tools used for woodworking making fabrication easy for the “DIY” crowd.

There are some excellent properties the material has. It will not rot, swell, rust, splinter, or delaminate and is fully UV-stable for long term outdoor use. It also holds up well to extended foot traffic and is virtually maintenance free except for cleaning.  It comes in a rather unusual standard size for plastics: 54″ x 96″ and is available in several thicknesses from 0.25″-1″. It’s also available in several attractive colors, which are posted below.

For more information or pricing on Marine Board please contact Redwood Plastics and Rubber today.

Safely Working With Phenolic

Posted: August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized
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“Phenolic” which really refers to a wide range of plastics called the “industrial laminate” family offers remarkable physical properties such as strength and dimensional tolerances. When you combine that with immunity to rot, rust, mold, termites, etc. it can be an excellent replacement for wood and metal in many applications for the DIY community. However, different than most other plastics working with phenolics can cause a big mess and the product can irritate your lungs and is not a good thing to breathe in. This is especially an issue when phenolics are saw cut! You will need the following items:

  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Long sleeved shirt and pants (coveralls are preferred)
  • Gloves

In general, you don’t want the dust to collect but you don’t want to dry sweep it either. Use some sort of wetting agent like water to coagulate it for removal. We found a safety document that is quite helpful and you can view and download it here.