Choosing the right wood

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Forum topic by tigger959 posted 07-22-2011 03:03 PM 944 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tigger959's profile


50 posts in 3968 days

07-22-2011 03:03 PM

I’m building a new workshop and am looking at cabinets or storage I would like to have. I notice that all of the projects I am looking at calls for plywood, no matter what the storage. For example, I saw a project for building a small storage container/cabinet(?) to store router bits. These are cabinets that have frames that are 4-6 inches deep with a back and a glass or glassless door.

My question is why can’t I use pine 1×4s, 1×6s, etc to build the frames instead of plywood? It is difficult to cut the plywood to size for me because of it’s size and weight (small guy) and I have no one to help me. I’ve seen a project that would help me cut the plywood and I’ll make it as soon as I have the room. I will be using the Kreig system to fasten the frame and this system provides significant strength. Also, I’ll be putting backs (1/4”, 3/8”) on as well. Anyway, is there that much advantage to using plywood (3/4”).

-- Tigger, Texas

6 replies so far

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 2745 days

#1 posted 07-22-2011 03:21 PM

The only issue with using the pine is its tendency to split easily but i have made numerous sets of cabinets with it. If you could find you a little popular that would be great. The pine will work fine though.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4457 days

#2 posted 07-22-2011 03:55 PM

The advantage of plywood for storage is dimensional stability, and less splitting, like Joey mentioned. But you can definitely work with dimensional lumber if you prefer.

If your main resistance to using plywood is the hassle of dealing with full sheets, consider buying half or quarter sheets that Lowes and HD usually keep on the shelf. You’ll pay more than the full sheet price, but it would probably still be cheaper than decent pine or poplar.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2932 days

#3 posted 07-22-2011 03:55 PM

Tigger, I’m currently making a large wall cabinet out of solid 3/4” cheap bigbox pine. As long as you account for movement (in my case, dovetails, floating dividers, and raised panels), and be careful what you’re driving into it, you can build cabinetry out of solid wood. Plywood is so stable and of such predictable dimension that it has become the material of choice. I happen to just hate plywood for anything except jigs. I’m only hurting myself, however, with this elitist attitude. I’ve been handcutting dovetails for a week now; if I was using ply, I’d be done already;)

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

View tigger959's profile


50 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 07-22-2011 05:59 PM

Thanks for all of your replies. I plan on using plywood for my workbenches as well as other projects. I was more concerned with ‘every’ project requiring plywood. Especially the smaller ones. I do price 2×4, 4×4 pieces of plywood versus the white pine (haven’t priced poplar yet) but still figure things out w/respect to cutting time, etc. Since I hurt my elbow, had to stop completing the shop inside (ceiling, walls) until I heal. Also why I’m asking about using 1×4s, etc. instead of plywood.

-- Tigger, Texas

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3337 days

#5 posted 07-22-2011 06:33 PM

I have the same physical issues handling 4×8 sheets of plywood. It’s real dangerous trying to use a tablesaw when cutting it up.
I have a new Bosch jig saw I use to rough out the pieces, then I finish them on the tablesaw. It works but you can end up losing the initial straight and perpendicular sides of the plywood.
My solution, the next time I’m building anything out of plywood is to buy a circular track saw. Festool, Makita, and DeWalt make them and they make short work of cutting up plywood without wrassling the piece around.
I think they are a great investment.

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2863 days

#6 posted 07-24-2011 04:49 AM

I am a big guy but have a small table saw. I always break down my sheet goods on saw horses with 2×4s across them. I bought an 8 foot straight edge and use it to keep the edges perpendicular. I have used them very successfully.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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