Are you kidding?

You’re supposed to be radically self-reliant! Besides, our 24/7 support team lost its 2-way radios on the playa. But here is a miniscule yet scalable wealth of information to assist you in creating, customizing, and burning your Playatech products. Please contribute your own open source ideas to or the Playatech Facebook page. Or just say thanks when you build something. We love hearing from you!


Getting Wood

wood_stackPlywood is naturally “green” and sustainable, with 95-99% of the end product consisting of actual wood versus glues – typical composition information is provided in this Material Safety Data Sheet and Formaldehyde Study. We usually use “exterior grade sheathing” because it is cheap and the glue is more planet-friendly than interior grade glues (go figure).


Home Depot seems cheapest, and they are the world’s largest supplier of “forest-friendly” plywood carrying the “FSC” certification – ask for it (see for more FSC info). And, if you bring the plans for a Playatech product to HD, they will often do all the straight cuts for next to nothing – so you can save work and get your raw materials home easily!

We use ½” thick ply for most projects (actual thickness 15/32”), and we sometimes pay extra for “one-side sanded”. This thickness works well, but the playa dries wood enough to warp the boards in a few days. Using ¾” thick ply and adjusting the slot widths appropriately will result in more sturdy construction – and some designs require ¾”. You might want to seal or oil playa-bound ploducts to prevent desiccation.


Yes, we really did choreograph Playatech production as a dance! You can too by implementing the following workstations:

Slicing: Let HD do all the cuts they can! The rest can be done with a table saw, handheld radial saw, or in a pinch, a jigsaw. Wear eye protection and watch those fingers!


RoutingSlotting: Oh those darn slots. This is where Playatech will turn you into a carpenter, or else. We made the first few by cutting each side of the slot with a jigsaw and using a chisel to chop out the long skinny piece. But a router with a flute blade works so much more accurately! A dado saw blade might work too, but we already bought the router.


Most of our plans assume you use standard grade ½” plywood, which is actually 15/32” thick. That works really well with a ½” router blade. For 3/4″ plywood designs, use a 3/4″ blade. If your “half-inch plywood” is really ½” thick or your 3/4 is really 3/4″, you’ll need to route the slots about 1/16” larger than the plywood thickness or assembling/disassembling will be tight.


The fastest and easiest way to make Playatech slots is to get a “pattern bit” which contains a bearing to follow a template. For the first prototype of each product, we use little pieces of plywood tooling containing various slot lengths as a template, clamp it down over the part to be slotted, run the router against the guide until the slot is the correct length, and voila, a perfect slot. If you are making two of any part, the first one makes a great template! Just clamp the first finished one to the unslotted second part, and use the pattern bit to make all the slots in the 2nd part rapidly.


Rounding: We round the corners of many parts on many products because we don’t want to look like squares. To make it easy, we made tooling by drawing 3” radius and 6” radius arcs on two scraps of plywood using a compass, and cutting along the arcs with a jigsaw. We hold the tooling against a love seat side support or other part, draw the arc onto the part, and cut the part with a jigsaw. We always slot before rounding unless we have an existing part as a template, since sometimes it is easier to measure to the slot position from the original corner of the part. If you route slots with a pattern bit using a template, try using it to round corners too!


Sanding: Plywood delivers splinters, but if you smooth everything with a belt sander it gets nice. We sand the exposed surfaces, and we also round all exposed edges by driving along them at various angles with the belt travel direction aligned with the plywood edge.


Testing: Before you decorate, you might want to put it together, sit your ass down, and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Before you get up, send that $5 per sheet royalty to Black Rock Arts Foundation, or no matter how much you sand, we promise splinters where you don’t want them.



Burnable Paint

red_designsWe found it! Brightly colored craft paint available in many whacky colors, metallic, pearl finish, glitter, and even heat-expandable 3D puff. See and click on “forms”. We use the 8 ounce bottles with attached applicators to avoid accidental mess. It works GREAT!


ember_paintsAccording to the manufacturer, all their paints are water based, non-toxic, non-flammable wet or dried, non-odorous when burning, rugged once dry, and pretty much benign in all respects. Their material safety data sheet does not suggest otherwise. But we still wouldn’t want to breathe it any more than burning plywood fumes.

painted_love_seatSince the paint is expensive, we often apply a base color to our wood using Ritt fabric dye, available at fabric and hardware stores. We mix it up per standard directions, and sponge it on the wood. Once dry, we paint designs over it. Let the dye age and wear a little before sitting on it to avoid staining your pants.


Other Decorating Ideas

chill space imageBody pillows make great cushions for Playa Love Seats, Playa Pews, and other ploducts. They can be secured against wind using long wire ties around the pillow and seat board, but we have not found this necessary. Nor has an unsecured Playatech ploduct ever blown over, blown away, or otherwise been lost except due to theft (the opposite of gifting).



Playatech and Fire at Burning Man

Pew Burns In Man Embers


Playatech believes furniture should not be bought but rather created as art, and when worn out, it should become fuel not landfill fodder. DO NOT INCINERATE WHILE OCCUPIED! We actually tried it and loved it, but we’re professionals. You may not want to breathe burning plywood fumes either.

Nothing goes better with Playatech furniture than a burn barrel, but to operate one in Black Rock City you need to follow some rules. These include raising burn barrels off the playa, continuously monitoring fires, keeping flammable liquids away, maintaining 20 foot safety perimeter from structures, and having 5 gallons of water on-hand to quench fire in event of high winds. You can easily store that water in one gallon containers under a Playa Love Seat, and these rules are pretty good ideas for backyard use too (which where we live is only legal if you put a grill over the burn barrel and claim it is a BBQ).


To register any fire art on the Playa:

Playatech – The Greenest Furniture Money Can’t Buy