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Is big box plywood okay for building furniture?

by LearningAsIGo
posted 03-08-2011 10:46 PM


22 replies so far

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1504 posts in 1382 days


#1 posted 03-08-2011 11:30 PM

Welcome to LJ!

FYI, the link didn’t work for me, so I’ll repaste it here: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/bedford-corner-desk-set/

Are you planning on painting it? couldn’t quite tell from your post. If that’s the case, you might want to skip the oak/birch plywood and switch to a cheaper material, but still paint-grade. I’ve not had an issue with L/HD plywood before and have used it on several projects. With a decent skirt along the back and a leg in beg, you shouldn’t have much flex at all with a 3/4 sheet.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Tim's profile

Tim

43 posts in 1869 days


#2 posted 03-08-2011 11:37 PM

I would look around a bit more for better pricing on the A1 nat birch ply. I’m in New England and a local lumberyard has that sheet for $67.95. And if you’re going to paint it, they might have ‘shop’ grade and ours goes for $55 per sheet.

http://www.highlandhardwoods.com/price_lists/Plywood.pdf

Also, since you will paint it, some of the parts might be able to be MDF, too.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1382 days


#3 posted 03-08-2011 11:40 PM

I built a rapid-fire painted bed for an unexpected visit from family (shown below). I think I spent $80. I blasted it out in a weekend using big box plywood, wainscotting, fake wood trim, and fence posts (you can see them inverted LOL). If you woodfill any voids, sand, and prime the plywood before painting, you shouldn’t have any problems; I didn’t. It’s not going to grace the cover of Fine Woodworking but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re after. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Loren's profile

Loren

7734 posts in 2337 days


#4 posted 03-08-2011 11:40 PM

The reasons people say it is no good are because it sometimes
warps and sometimes you may encounter voids or delaminations
within the plywood. If you’re looking to save some money on personal
projects, these are not major problems, but for a pro situation
they are hassles not worth the savings.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1382 days


#5 posted 03-08-2011 11:41 PM

^I can’t believe I just posted that on a woodworking site. Facepalm.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1504 posts in 1382 days


#6 posted 03-08-2011 11:41 PM

Wow, Al, for a rush, $80 job, that’s darn good. I think I might have un-inverted the posts tho ^_^

(Edited)

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1382 days


#7 posted 03-08-2011 11:43 PM

Hey man, what’s a poor lumberjock to do. That’s an air mattress under that comforter :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1382 days


#8 posted 03-08-2011 11:44 PM

What, stretch, you don’t like my hillbilly claw feet? ^_^

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1504 posts in 1382 days


#9 posted 03-08-2011 11:45 PM

LOL just looks like they might punch holes through the floor. Although that’s probably better than spearing someone through the abdominal area.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View LearningAsIGo's profile

LearningAsIGo

38 posts in 1325 days


#10 posted 03-09-2011 01:26 AM

Superstretch – I did mention that I will be painting the desk. What is a paint grade alternative to the oak plywood?

Tim – I’m in New England also. I know I could use MDF but I hate it because it’s so heavy and creates so much dust.

View brunob's profile

brunob

2275 posts in 2858 days


#11 posted 03-09-2011 01:32 AM

I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with Big Box plywood. I now get all my plywood and my local lumber yard. It’s worth the few extra bucks. If you’re going to paint it, why not fir plywood?

-- Bruce from Central New York...now, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Tim's profile

Tim

43 posts in 1869 days


#12 posted 03-09-2011 01:58 AM

You’re in New England?! Great. I absolutely love Highland Hardwoods, especially as a newbie. Incredible inventory, great people, very well marked. No mysteries around board footage, s3s, etc. They even have short bins! I don’t know exactly where you are, but it might be worth the trip for their paint grade birch ply. I used it for a recent corner cabinet that is 95% done… and will remain that way for a bit longer! : )

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1757 days


#13 posted 03-09-2011 02:07 AM

Learning -

If you’re painting the desk, you’ll want to stay away from oak. Its grain will show thru the paint unless you go theu a very labor intensive effort to fill the pores and sand everything smooth. Way more trouble than its worth.

For paint grade work, I use either poplar or shop grade maple. Both work well and take paint well. Personally, I won’t use big box ply on anything that has to look good. It’s just too much hassle dealing with it.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Chris Moellering's profile

Chris Moellering

224 posts in 1337 days


#14 posted 03-09-2011 02:46 AM

I would suggest looking to find some pre-built cabinets like what make the ends of the desk, then just go about making the top and attaching it. As another beginner, making things with drawers requires a fair bit of precision to get the cabinet and the drawers all square and true.

-- Grace & peace, Chris+

View LearningAsIGo's profile

LearningAsIGo

38 posts in 1325 days


#15 posted 03-09-2011 04:34 AM

I’m in Connecticut, it’s about a 2 1/2 hr drive to Highland Hardwoods. I must be able to find something closer. I just did another google search and it looks like there is a place in CT that sells Baltic Birch for $65/sheet and paint grade maple for $60. I’ll have to look into that further to see if their prices are up to date.

We actually did a window seat with drawers so I think we can do it. We have a table saw, Kreg Jig and a router.

View Vicki's profile

Vicki

940 posts in 2033 days


#16 posted 03-11-2011 05:28 AM

If you are planning on painting it big box ply is fine. Check on the shop grade ply though at a lumber yard if you have one close. I got a nicer quality than the box store for box store price. IMHO I used it and white pine for my craft table/cabinet.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/39272

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View bb71's profile

bb71

42 posts in 1736 days


#17 posted 03-12-2011 12:32 AM

I made the mistake of using Home Depot (chinese) plywood for a builtin I did once. It was paint grade work. The plywood was paint grade maple. After two weeks of building I was doing final prep for priming. I noticed some of the ply had started to delaminate. I stopped working on it to see what would happen. After about 3 days, several areas of the plywood had delaminated so badly the the piece was junk. Needless to say, I don’t mess with crappy chinese plywood from bog box store any more. I’ll gladly spend the extra $20 / sheet. My customer wasn’t happy when I told here I had to start again. My wife wasn’t happy when I told her how much material money was going in the garbage. I wasn’t happy with the lost labor. A lesson learned the hard way.

View allmyfingers's profile

allmyfingers

40 posts in 1335 days


#18 posted 03-12-2011 01:32 AM

had a customer last month ask for a copy of this exact desk. we decided on glued up poplar 5/4 instead of plywood for the top. paints well and easy on the router, no worries about delamination and integral edge detail instead of tacking it on.we found used file cabinets at a used office furniture dealer, high quality oak, took a repaint very well.

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View flybowman's profile

flybowman

15 posts in 1329 days


#19 posted 03-12-2011 04:14 AM

I once attempted to build several kitchen cabinet carcasses with home depot birch plywood. We cut all the pieces one day and came back the next day to assemble and glue them. Every single board had warped dramaticly. Not sure if it happens everytime, but once was enough for me.

-- Michigan Mike

View trainwreck's profile

trainwreck

43 posts in 1380 days


#20 posted 03-12-2011 06:34 PM

Using Ana White’s plans? In my experience, though limited as it is, the big box plywood will work, but it will be no better than that Sauder particle board crap. You’ll think everything is fine until you go to paint it, then you’ll be cursing up a blue streak! I agree..spend the extra money for the good stuff from a lumber yard, at least for the plywood. Tell them what you’re building and buy what they tell you! She says you can do it cheaper, and you can, but you even buying good plywood, you’ll still come out ahead!

View LearningAsIGo's profile

LearningAsIGo

38 posts in 1325 days


#21 posted 03-13-2011 06:25 PM

For the most part I will be using Ana’s plans with a few modifications.

Allmyfingers I’m curious to know about gluing up 5/4 board. What width did you use? And do you just need to use glue and clamps?

View MOJOE's profile

MOJOE

547 posts in 1958 days


#22 posted 03-14-2011 04:32 AM

I’ve used HomeDepot birch on a crib and dresser for my son…...didn’t have any trouble, just picked through the stacks a lot to find pieces that matched well and were in good shape. I would also suggest looking at the partial sheets if your plans will permit….sometimes the smaller sizes aren’t warped as bad.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

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