Reply by Fred Hargis

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Posted on Understanding Plywood Grades

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Fred Hargis

5013 posts in 2544 days

#1 posted 08-05-2016 08:04 PM

There are different standards for construction grade versus cabinet grade because the are actually two very different products. I have heard folks refer to a “finish grade” and have no idea what it is. I suppose it’s possible that’s what the box stores sell. Anyway, back to the cabinet grade which is what I recommend for interior furniture projects: in the US they use the letter/number grade, the “A” being best and the “show” side of the plywood, the number “1” is also best and consider (usually) the back side of the piece. I’ve had pieces I could not tell which was “A” as opposed to “1”, but if you buy a NA made piece of hardwood plywood it should/will follow those standards. To be honest, I avoid the box store stuff anymore except for the construction grade, or I buy the hardwood it’s for things like garage/basement cabinets, etc. I can go to my hardwood supplier and buy B-2 maple or birch that is a lot nicer than anything they have…and priced within maybe 10%. The higher grades can get expensive, and in some cases may cost more on a board foot basis than solid wood. But the stuff at the box stores may have what I call “variable thickness”, and it’s tough to cut a good fitting dado for it at times, whereas the USA stuff is much more consistent.

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