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MDO, phenolic or other plywood for workshop cabinets?

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Forum topic by Neophyte posted 09-22-2015 04:22 AM 1420 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Neophyte

16 posts in 1824 days


09-22-2015 04:22 AM

Friends,
I am setting up my workshop in my garage. My experience so far is in refinishing furniture and now I want to build cabinets, bookcases, closets and the like. I plan to build cabinets for the garage/workshop on top of which I will put some power tools, the bottom will be used for storage. Since I am a novice, I did some looking around in the web and I am looking for opinions on type of plywood to use for the cabinets. I wonder if there are some plywoods that would not require staining/varnishing/painting. So far my understanding is that phenolic and MDO may be such products. Phenolic seems to come in dark colors and I prefer light, therefore MDO which seems light gray. Finding a supplier in my area may also be an issue.
I will appreciate any feedback, input, sharing

-- Marc, NY


18 replies so far

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile (online now)

TheTurtleCarpenter

828 posts in 534 days


#1 posted 09-22-2015 06:07 AM

If you want prefinished, I would find a cabinet shop in your area, and he can sell you some UV clear coated Birch or Maple in a 3/4 and 1/4” thickness, and you can make a European style box with edge banding applied to the edges. He can also supply you with a roll of edge banding of the same species and that can be ironed on.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3950 posts in 1961 days


#2 posted 09-22-2015 11:09 AM

if the MDO you see is a gray color, then it is pre-primed. Unpainted MDO looks like kraft paper, and it is meant to be painted and used for outdoor signs. Phenolic ply is actually made for concrete forms and the piece I bought (only one) is certainly suitable for cabinets but can be hard to locate. But my choice would also be the pre finished plywood, you can get it with finish on one or both sides, and it’s a really durable coating. To be honest, the cabinets I’ve built for my shop and garage were just unfinished plywood, and I didn’t bother to finish them…just left the bare wood. But then, I’m a very much “function over form” type of guy. You could also pre finish your own plywood, use a good quality finish and coat the sheets….or consider melamine (something I wouldn’t use).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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Redoak49

1964 posts in 1456 days


#3 posted 09-22-2015 11:23 AM

I looked at various options when I built my shop cabinets. I ended up using 3/4” called Aruaco ply which is carried by Menards in my area. It is a high quality plywood with almost no voids.

I broke it down partially and finished it with poly using a roller. I found the options that have been m mentioned a little too expensive for me.

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile (online now)

TheTurtleCarpenter

828 posts in 534 days


#4 posted 09-22-2015 04:22 PM

You never know till you ask. I had a cabinet shop for years and bought the UV plywood by the hack and if someone called or stopped by I would sell them 10 sheets at $10 over my cost and all I would have to do is watch them carry it out the door. They were buying prefinished ply from me cheaper than the raw stuff at the big box store or their local lumber yard. You can buy uv edge banding online for about $35 for 250lft and buy hand trimmers thru fast-cap or online. I built a set of cabinets at my Church back in January and bought from a cabinet shop and they just had their wholesaler drop ship it to me at the Church. I used 2 grades, aChina UV for the boxes $29 a sheet and a Better grade $39 for the slab doors and fronts.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

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waho6o9

7180 posts in 2045 days


#5 posted 09-22-2015 04:30 PM

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Neophyte

16 posts in 1824 days


#6 posted 09-23-2015 02:52 AM

Guys, this is great feedback. Now, since I am so new to this perhaps you can spend one or two minutes explaining what is UV plywood and pre-finished plywood – unless these are generic terms.
Thanks!

-- Marc, NY

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1043 days


#7 posted 09-23-2015 03:55 AM

From my google search,it’s a clear coated plywood with a birch type face. I’d like to know where he’s getting 29.00 sheets of ply.
http://www.columbiaforestproducts.com/product/uv-wood/

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile (online now)

TheTurtleCarpenter

828 posts in 534 days


#8 posted 09-23-2015 06:14 AM

UV plywood is a prefinished factory clear finish sheet good that is sold by several manufacturers. You can buy it in different species and also different core qualities and face grades. I started using it around 1999 because I had previously made kitchen cabinets and finished the interior after the box was put together and was not satisfied with the quality. My sales rep recommended it and after that I was hooked. As a cabinet shop owner I also set up bulk pricing and bought it by the hack, or lift (60 sheets). The $29 dollar price was from a friend who owns a local shop and that was “His Cost” with no markup, as he puts out about 10 sets of cabinets out a week and gets a pretty good set price. As I said I built those cabinets in the picture On Site for my Church and he drop shipped it to our door. The ply I purchase was a China product with a fairly nice face but the core wasn’t very stable. It was fine for the box parts but I switched to a better grade for the slab doors as the China product tends to bow. Like I said in the previous post, call up a local cabinet shop and have him quote you a price for five or ten sheets picked up. There is a lot of difference between going to Menards and Lowes and buying thru a wholesaler or a cabinet shop.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3950 posts in 1961 days


#9 posted 09-23-2015 11:20 AM

The finish on the plywood is some form of conversion varnish (?) that is cured by UV light, hence the name.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3187 posts in 2244 days


#10 posted 09-23-2015 11:56 AM

I use a lot of maple birch ply (3/4 and 1/2) for cabinets. Varnish the insides and paint the outside.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Neophyte's profile

Neophyte

16 posts in 1824 days


#11 posted 09-23-2015 11:15 PM

TurtleCarpenter – I found the UV plywood, here they know it only as prefinished, one or both sides. Nearest guy is a cabinet maker and wants >$80 per 3/4 sheet of birch. Found a place in White Plains, 30 mins away without traffic that sells only maple ($70) and birch ($60). Of course 1/2 and 1/4 are less.
A nearby lumberyard sells MDO 3/4 for about $60
David, great work!
My next question is – where do you get the edge banding, none of these people had it
Thanks all for your input

-- Marc, NY

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile (online now)

TheTurtleCarpenter

828 posts in 534 days


#12 posted 09-23-2015 11:36 PM

He is making a little money off of you but, your price for MDO unfinished is about the same price. You might shop around a little and find it cheaper. I’ll post a link for the edge banding and the hand trimmer you can buy from Fastcap. https://www.thehardwarehut.com/catalog-product.php?p_ref=260433&gshop&gclid=CL6ZsbWojsgCFQotaQodImAARQ
Just pm me and I’ll help you all I can. If you want I can call the guy up and try a little persuasion to get you a better deal.
Jeffinky.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

2575 posts in 1725 days


#13 posted 09-23-2015 11:50 PM

Marc, you might consider melamine faced particle board. It is relatively inexpensive and is finished. Edge banding is also available. I didn’t check, but it is probably available at Lowes, Menards, etc. HTH

-- Art

View Neophyte's profile

Neophyte

16 posts in 1824 days


#14 posted 09-24-2015 02:19 PM



He is making a little money off of you but, your price for MDO unfinished is about the same price. You might shop around a little and find it cheaper. I ll post a link for the edge banding and the hand trimmer you can buy from Fastcap. https://www.thehardwarehut.com/catalog-product.php?p_ref=260433&gshop&gclid=CL6ZsbWojsgCFQotaQodImAARQ

- TheTurtleCarpenter

Thanks for your help. I will keep it in mind as I move forward, plan to start in mid to late October after some family engagements

-- Marc, NY

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Neophyte

16 posts in 1824 days


#15 posted 09-24-2015 02:21 PM



Marc, you might consider melamine faced particle board. It is relatively inexpensive and is finished. Edge banding is also available. I didn t check, but it is probably available at Lowes, Menards, etc. HTH

- AandCstyle

Thanks for the tip. We had California Closets in another home before moving and I believe those are melamine.

-- Marc, NY

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