1/2" or 3/4" Baltic birch ply?????

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Forum topic by johno23 posted 06-16-2015 01:03 PM 750 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View johno23's profile


3 posts in 1112 days

06-16-2015 01:03 PM

Hey all.
I have this open storage bench, I guess that’s what I will call it, that I have designed originally using 3/4” ply. I am rethinking and leaning towards using 1/2” Baltic birch instead. My main motivator is cost, since I have to order my supplies online because I have no good lumber suppliers close to me except for the big box stores.
Anyway my concern is that since this is a bench design and will most-likely be sat on, could the 1/2” handle the weight of a person or lets say for the sake of argument a 200lbs person sitting on it.
I am looking forward to your input. I have not been on this site long but I have quickly come to respect the wealth knowledge that is offered here.

5 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5448 posts in 3690 days

#1 posted 06-16-2015 01:17 PM

I would eat the cost and go with 3/4”.

When it comes to shop furniture, I think you are better off to over-build.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2397 days

#2 posted 06-16-2015 01:24 PM

I would use 3/4”. This looks like a hall bench, not a shop thing, right? Either way, I would use 3/4”. Your bottom corners look rabbeted, and in 1/2” material, that doesn’t leave much left for a structural joint.

If you use face frames on the front and back, I think you could get away with 1/2”, your top will be supported by the dadoes, the center divider, and the face fames.

3/4” will be stronger, and I think it is easier to work with when cutting rabbets and dadoes.

How are you planning on dealing with the exposed plywood edges? If I were building this, which I’m not, I would use a face frame on all sides, or at least front and back. The bottom rail would be wide, and would have your bottom curves cut out of it. This would simplify construction, just build the frame and then build the box to fit it.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1204 days

#3 posted 06-16-2015 01:26 PM

+1 for the 3/4 inch plywood.

I tend to over engineer things, but if the 200 pounds is on the top shelf as diagramed I would place a block under the bottom shelf where the center divider is to carry the weight onto the floor. I might consider adding a “center” nail rail along the back splitting the back into two pieces. This would help in keeping the vertical sides from bowing over time.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2604 days

#4 posted 06-16-2015 01:26 PM

1/2” for the back

3/4” for the cabinet

Around here Baltic Birch comes in 5’ x 5’ sheets so I’d imagine you’d want to get
as much out of a sheet as possible and keep the waste to a minimum.

I’d draw it out on paper first and see how much I could in the one sheet. Any left overs ( off fall )
could make good back rails. Although I’d rather use lumber for that.

+1 for The Dane, great advice.

View johno23's profile


3 posts in 1112 days

#5 posted 06-16-2015 02:22 PM

WOW!!!!!!!!! I knew joining this forum was the right move. Thanks for all the great advice. I am going to go back and fine-tune my design with the ideas inspired by the great input.
Thanks again.

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