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Solid wood vs Plywood Panels?

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Forum topic by trevor7428 posted 11-02-2016 07:19 PM 1352 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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trevor7428

236 posts in 799 days


11-02-2016 07:19 PM

Chest

P

So i want to make this Chest, found in Woodsmith Magazine. The plan calls for solid wood panels. Trying to keep lumber costs down. I was thinking of plywood panels instead. Would anyone recomend this. Or should i do it right and use solid wood?

Im planing on using Cherry for the Rails and Stiles. So if i used plywood, i would try to find some cherry plywood. I just figured, since the panels are flat (not a raised panel) it shouldnt look that different between Cherry Plywood or Cherry solid wood panel.

What do you guys think?

BTW, ive never used Cherry before. Is it hard to work with or recommended for this kind of project?

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion


28 replies so far

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splintergroup

1702 posts in 1061 days


#1 posted 11-02-2016 07:37 PM

Plywood would work fine! Be ready for sticker shock however!

For a project of that size, I’d worry about the finish (blotching, etc), so read up!

As to workability, I love cherry! The only real ‘bummer’ is how it has a tendency to burn from router bits and saw blades.

Best countermeasure is to cut 1/16” oversize and make the finally cut a skim cut.

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JayT

5455 posts in 2049 days


#2 posted 11-02-2016 07:44 PM

Yep, plywood probably won’t save you much money. Around here, 3/4 cabinet grade hardwood plywood runs about $100-120 per sheet. It will, however, be a lot more stable, so you don’t have to worry so much about allowing for wood movement on those panels.

On a project that size, many people, including me, might want to use plywood for the panels because of that. And while plywood may not save a lot of money, it would save quite a bit of time not having to glue up and flatten all the solid wood.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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gargey

862 posts in 614 days


#3 posted 11-02-2016 07:44 PM

Cherry is very nice to work with, IMO. All of my experience is with hand tools.

Plywood would be indistinguishable from solid wood. The veneer might not match your solid boards, the same way your solid board might not match your other solid boards, however. So pay attention to that. Buy the plywood first…

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Mosquito

9113 posts in 2131 days


#4 posted 11-02-2016 07:45 PM

I agree with the above.

I have only worked cherry by hand, though, so not had any issues with burning.

Also, you might be surprised at how much a hardwood veneered plywood costs compared to big box store cheap plywood…

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

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trevor7428

236 posts in 799 days


#5 posted 11-02-2016 08:49 PM



Plywood would work fine! Be ready for sticker shock however!

For a project of that size, I d worry about the finish (blotching, etc), so read up!

As to workability, I love cherry! The only real bummer is how it has a tendency to burn from router bits and saw blades.

Best countermeasure is to cut 1/16” oversize and make the finally cut a skim cut.

- splintergroup

To be honest, i havnt even thought about the finish lol. So thanks i look into that.

But speaking of finish, what do you recomend? Just a water based clear coat?
Im not the beat with finishes.

Thanks everyone for the advice

-- Thank You Trevor OBrion

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jmos

797 posts in 2208 days


#6 posted 11-02-2016 08:51 PM

Another option is to use inexpensive plywood or MDF for the panels and veneer them. I recently made a similar chest and did just that. It’s a good starter project for veneering since the panels are relatively small and easy to deal with. You can pick a really nice veneer and get a different look for not much more. You could also compare the cost of getting cherry veneer and making your own cherry plywood; in this case, since you probably won’t need a full sheet, it may be cheaper to veneer your own.

I really like working with cherry, but it is prone to blotch if you stain it. My solution is not to add any color to it at all; it’s a bit pale initially, but over time it develops a great color all by itself.

-- John

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jmos

797 posts in 2208 days


#7 posted 11-02-2016 08:53 PM

I also have to throw out that, for the amount of time you’ll invest in the project, the cost of lumber is small change. I’d encourage you to get what you think will look best; the cost only hurts once and you’ll have the project for years and years.

-- John

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splintergroup

1702 posts in 1061 days


#8 posted 11-02-2016 09:34 PM

My guess is the panels will be 1/2” thick (or less)? Still pricey, but follow the advice of seeing the color/grain of the plywood first so you can try and find boards that match.

Clear finish is popular with cherry for the blotching reason. If you don’t have to try and blend in sap wood to match, clear whatever (oil/water based, even shellac) is easy enough. Remember that cherry darkens quite a bit when exposed to sunlight, I always try to ‘pre-sun darken’ anything I make out of cherry for that reason.

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Carloz

981 posts in 430 days


#9 posted 11-02-2016 10:50 PM

If you are like me, by the time you finish it you spend so much efforts that the price of material becomes irrelevant. Every time I cheap out on wood I regret it by the end of the project. IMHO you should only try to save on material when you are in production making the same thing all the time.

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8iowa

1566 posts in 3600 days


#10 posted 11-02-2016 11:29 PM

I just finished a large ‘Shaker style’ wardrobe in cherry. The door panels are re-sawn and bookmatched solid wood. It was a lot of work, but the effect is worth it. For the back I used 1/2” cherry plywood, mainly for the added strength. The 4×8 sheet of plywood cost over $100. It was a special order and very high quality.

To help avoid burn marks in Cherry I recommend a 24 T blade for ripping and then change to a 60 T blade for my crosscuts. I also run my saw (Shopsmith) at about 2500 rpm. Burn marks are very difficult to remove.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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HokieKen

4515 posts in 977 days


#11 posted 11-02-2016 11:31 PM

As said above, ply isn’t likely to save any $ but will save some time since you can skip the panel glue ups. If it were me, I’d go solid wood. Cherry is great to work with so I wouldn’t be too aprehensive about that. Like JayT said, ply is more stable so that should weigh into your decision as well.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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BobAnderton

239 posts in 2629 days


#12 posted 11-03-2016 01:27 AM

Usually, in my opinion, it’s obvious when hardwood veneered plywood is used for panels instead of solid wood panels because the grain pattern is all wrong. Even quartersawn plywood where the surface veneer isn’t rotary cut looks different than solid wood in the same piece because it finishes differently. That said, I’m no professional, so if someone who does this for a living says it can be done and look great then I’d believe them, just relaying my experience.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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bbasiaga

1011 posts in 1833 days


#13 posted 11-03-2016 02:11 AM

For a cherry finish, I like just some natural danish oil, topped with Arm R Seal. I have seen a project where the danish oil was replaced with garnet shellac, then the Arm R Seal….it looked great too. I plan to try that next time.

Bob is right, the plywood grain will look different than solid wood. But that doesn’t mean it looks bad.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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Aj2

1178 posts in 1636 days


#14 posted 11-03-2016 05:15 AM

I also agree with bob, plywood is going to have a different look.And you really don’t know until you have a finish on it.
There’s always the risk of a dent or scratch when it’s new or later in life that really diminishes the piece.With solid wood it will just add character.

It’s a really nice looking piece.With or without plywood will call any craftsman to do his best.
Good luck

Aj

-- Aj

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Fred Hargis

4762 posts in 2332 days


#15 posted 11-03-2016 11:04 AM

To echo much of what has been said: cherry ply actually cost me more than solid wood most times. I still prefer it for panels, it removes some of the conventions you have to use for wood movement. I would use plywood on that chest, personally. As for finish, the last thing I would do is just apply a waterborne topcoat. They are fairly colorless, and do nothing to enhance the grain. But a coat of garnet shellac, followed by that same waterborne is very nice, and quite durable if it’s a quality waterborne. Using it under a waterborne, I would suggest you get dewaxed shellac (it is available in garnet).

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

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