Plywood — a flat sheet constructed of a number of thinner layers of wooden glued collectively throughout grain — has been round for the reason that historic Egyptians and Greeks. It solves wooden motion points for us now, and clearly that was an issue for his or her builders, too.

In right now’s passion {and professional} woodshops, plywood and different sheet inventory is a really helpful, economical and practically important product for fixing quite a lot of development challenges.

Sheet inventory comparable to MDF or a laminated core lined with a hardwood veneer is ubiquitous in trendy cabinetry. We additionally discover plywood sides, backs and tops used to make cheap stringed devices. Thin, easy plywood is a standard underlayment for all kinds of flooring. And CDX plywood used for the outside of residence constructing is the most effective sheathing you’ll find. The scope of sheet inventory’s use is fairly superb. But what about for us residence-store builders?

In the Home Shop

Desk made with plywood panels and veneering
Modern-design furnishings typically makes use of uncovered plywood edges as a sexy accent. This desk is product of Baltic birch plywood and lined with stress-delicate black walnut veneer.

As most woodworkers know, sheet inventory supplies vast and lengthy materials that isn’t actually affected by the seasonal wooden motion of strong woods. A typical saying of woodworkers is, “The only things in life you can’t avoid are death, taxes and wood movement.” The caveat to that’s, “Except with plywood.”

Given its cross-grain laminated development, the enlargement and contraction of plywood’s wooden fibers are constrained. That is why it’s so helpful in creating casework furnishings and cabinetry. If you’re constructing an enormous field, sheet inventory is your good friend. But which good friend do you have to select for which process?

If you’re constructing casework furnishings, veneer-core plywood with a hardwood species that can match your strong wooden elements is the best way to go. Hardwood veneer-lined MDF or lumber core are each appropriate for the duty however are a lot heavier. Their predominant benefit is that screws and different fasteners will maintain of their edges with better energy than veneer core. Use grades A/A or A/B for finest outcomes. If you’re portray your work, grade B/B in a birch-lined plywood or different shut-grained species is a superb alternative.

Covering uncovered edges of sheet inventory could be achieved by gluing on strips of strong wooden that match the floor veneer. You may get “iron-on” veneer tape in lots of species that’s quick and simple to use, however it’s a bit much less sturdy than strong wooden.

In trendy-styled furnishings, uncovered edges of veneer-core plywood is a fascinating design aspect. Baltic birch and its cousin, ApplePly®, have skinny veneers glued collectively with out voids. They are the go-to supplies for this kind of development.

A Good Cover Up

Plywood cabinet and drawers covered with veneer
Hardwood veneer-lined plywood is the go-to materials for casework development. The edges have to be lined in an identical lumber species for finest outcomes.

One huge benefit of sheet inventory’s dimensional stability is that it makes an ideal substrate for veneering. You can cowl these initiatives with any species of veneer you’d like — a really economical use of fancy species. MDF is commonly most popular for a veneer substrate, as its easy floor is right for reaching a flawless veneer layup.

Veneer is available in many types of species, determine patterns and product choices — strong wooden, paper-backed, peel-and-stick — that add limitless choices for creativity. And the truth that the core will keep flat permits the designer/builder to disregard the bounds of strong wooden furnishings. Some of probably the most great and costly furnishings on the earth is made with veneer-lined sheet inventory.


Shelving is one other nice use of plywood. You could make cabinets of differing widths and lengths with out having to connect up slender boards. For utility cabinets, you don’t even must cowl the perimeters — simply sand them easy. MDF or particleboard can work for shorter cabinets, however something over 24″ of unsupported size will sag. Veneer-core plywood cabinets as much as 36″ will keep flat in regular use with out a middle help. If longer than that, glue rabbeted hardwood stiffeners to the back and front, and you may go for much longer, as much as 6 ft or so. Additional helps are nonetheless advisable.

Quality Levels Vary

MDF bedside table covered by veneer
This bedside desk is product of MDF lined with veneer — on this case, quartersawn white oak veneer.

The high quality of plywood can range, however much less so with MDF. Some hardwood-lined plywood has extremely skinny veneer. Internal voids and “telegraphed” patches are to be averted. Sadly, high quality is commonly onerous to find out. But if the floor veneer seems to be too skinny to you, it in all probability is. Buying sheet inventory from a good provider is an effective step towards high quality management. “Big box store” high quality might be hit-and-miss.

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