Kitchen Cabinet - Why Fancy Plywood?

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Forum topic by efultz posted 09-27-2016 12:49 PM 755 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 783 days

09-27-2016 12:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinet

I am starting design work for cabinets for our kitchen. I plan on using 3/4 for the carcass with 1/4 inch on the back. We are building only lower cabinets so none of the sides will be visible – wiiih exception of one end (and I can put 1/4 on the end to make it look nicer).

Because of our planned design I was thinking any sanded/finished plywood would work with the expensive wood (cherry, maple, whatever) being for the face frame. I know the inside wants to be smooth so dirt and other things don’t catch. Some have talked about melamine. I was thinking the least expensive plywood that would provide this smooth inside while still being quality would be birch plywood. Does this sound like a plan? 3/4 inch birch plywood with the birch side pointing in with 1/4 inch plywood with one side sanded/plugged (smooth) pointed inside.

9 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5143 posts in 2669 days

#1 posted 09-27-2016 01:19 PM

You will save yourself a lot of work, and have nicer cabinets if you buy pre finished ply. The factory coating is so tough it’s very hard to damage while working it, and it saves you the headache of finishing the interior panels. Most of it I’ve seen is maple.

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

View rwe2156's profile


3134 posts in 1656 days

#2 posted 09-27-2016 01:24 PM

Many prefer melamine over plywood. They bring brightness inside the cabs + easy cleaning.

I generally recommend frameless or 32mm construction over face frames, however you probably have to match the uppers, but its still a consideration.

The main advantages are saving on expensive lumber (just do edge band), full width slide out shelves (which to me are a must) and the hardware is very simple to install and adjust.

If you do go with plywood, I strongly recommend putting laminate on the interior surfaces.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View efultz's profile


3 posts in 783 days

#3 posted 09-27-2016 01:36 PM

Thank you. We will not have upper cabinets – we put windows along the entire wall. I will look into frameless cabinets – not sure I have seen that before.

I planned on purchasing from Home Depot – their birch plywood looked decent. If I wanted to get pre-finished where would I go for that? I am not a cabinet shop so I have, somewhat, limited choices regarding suppliers.

View Redoak49's profile


3602 posts in 2164 days

#4 posted 09-27-2016 02:39 PM

For my cabinets, I look for plywood with thick face veneer, flat and few voids. My shop cabinets were made from 3/4” Aruaco ply which met these requirements.

I broke the sheets down and finished the parts before assembly using poly and a foam roller for two coats and the final with a foam brush. The cabinets were Euro style…32 mm and used the holes for hinges and drawer slide mounting.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5784 posts in 2989 days

#5 posted 09-27-2016 02:53 PM

I personally wouldn’t buy finish grade plywood from a big box store. Check out a hardwood retailer or plywood specialty store, and you can clearly see the difference in quality. If I had lower cabinets with swing-out doors, I would want the cabinet box to match the species of the face frame. That is pretty standard. If they were all banks of drawers, then I suppose it wouldn’t matter as much.

Melamine is great for cabinet bottoms and shelves, but stick to premium hardwood ply for the boxes.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5143 posts in 2669 days

#6 posted 09-27-2016 02:56 PM

I get pre finished plywood from my hardwood dealer, the only box store I’ve seen selling it was Menard’s…and they are kind pf a regional chain for the moment. If it’s of interest to you you may have to call around to find it.

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

View efultz's profile


3 posts in 783 days

#7 posted 09-27-2016 03:52 PM

This has all been really helpful. We will be having drawers on all of the cabinets with the exception of the sink base that has to be, of course, doors for access to the plumbing. As such it sounds like I can use standard 3/4 plywood for the box carcass with 1/2 plywood on the back. All poly’d before assembly so we have a clean interior surface. I looked at faceless and while I will present to my wife I am leaning toward having a face frame. Not sure what she will want for wood – I like cherry or maple but the other day she was saying she liked the look of birch or poplar. Poplar is pretty typical for drawers so who knows.

I was thinking about making the base separate from the cabinet itself. This will simplify the leveling process if I shim and level the base across the floor. It, also, simplifies slightly the cabinet in that I don’t have to cut the toe kick but can make the box straight.

View MrRon's profile


5141 posts in 3419 days

#8 posted 09-27-2016 04:14 PM

I second the melamine plywood. Another one you might consider is MDO which is resin coated plywood used in sign making. It takes paint well.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5143 posts in 2669 days

#9 posted 09-27-2016 04:24 PM

If they are all drawers, the prefinished ply won’t be needed. Biut one caution: I wouldn’t put any oil based finish (I’m guessing by “poly” you mean oil based varnish) on the interior surfaces. The odor will linger forever and actually can get into cloth, food, etc. If you must finish the interiot surfaces, use a waterborne finish or shellac. Lacquer would also work if you have a way to apply it safely. BTW, the separate base is most definitely the way to go. Not only does it simplify installation, you get more cabinet sides out of a sheet of plywood because you aren’t cutting out the toe kick. I’s still get the prefinished ply for the sink base, the finish on it is a UV cured one, you can’t come close to it for toughness with any home finish.

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

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