Routing edge on Baltic Birch?

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 06-11-2012 01:24 PM 5808 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2282 days

06-11-2012 01:24 PM

Nothing fancy. I just want to run a small round over on it. Like… 1/8. Maybe 3/16.
I haven’t tried it yet. Just wondering how you think this will work out. Any tips? I don’t think I’ve routed any kind of plywood at all. :)

12 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3956 days

#1 posted 06-11-2012 01:36 PM

It’ll work. Just don’t expect it to be pretty.
Sanded and filled with a wood putty, it can be painted.


View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3644 days

#2 posted 06-11-2012 01:50 PM

will work just fine – and will be pretty if this is the look you are going for. I kinda like the ply edges on some pieces – really depends on the style of the piece though. I did it on several projects including a bed I have posted here.

no it will not look like solid wood – it’s ply… but it can still look good, and be smooth

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View waho6o9's profile


8189 posts in 2572 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 01:53 PM

Maybe use a backer board to prevent blow out of edges. It should turn out well.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2981 days

#4 posted 06-11-2012 03:23 PM

I roundover ply all the time. Works great. You can’t hide the fact that it is plywood, but I like to work with that rather than hide it. 1/8 and you won’t really notice it (assuming you have 1/2 or 3/4 ply). I use 1/4 and 1/2 roundovers, depending on the size of the piece. I got an 1/8 and was really excited about it but it ends up looking like I just sanded the edge a little.

Take gentle cuts. On my router table I will sometimes feed it gently in multiple passes to ensure a smooth face, since you are cutting through different directions.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2260 days

#5 posted 06-11-2012 03:36 PM

Go slow and put up a backer on the ends as said above.

Be prepared to fill with wood putty and sand if you’re using cheaper plywood (like the big box store stuff).

It should look fine though. It’s an accepted finish for mid-century mod pieces and some contemporary items. If it’s not part of the design you’re going after, get some poplar or similar wood and make an edge band in the profile you want and glue/tack/joint it on.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#6 posted 06-11-2012 03:43 PM

Thanks. These are 3/4 inch BB being used for drawer fronts. Wife wants slabs, not frame and panel for the drawers. So…. slabs it is. They are getting painted only because at this point they’d look kinda odd if we didn’t since the cabinet face frames are painted. The insides of the drawers are 5/8 and I sanded them and lacquered them and she thinks the edges look nice. :) But for the drawer fronts, the fronts and edges will get painted, and the inside face will get lacquered.

I’ll practice on a couple of scrap pieces and see how it works out. The style of the kitchen would probably allow me to hit ‘em with a belt sander if I wanted to. :) She WANTS them to have some imperfections. It’s supposed to look like a kitchen in a cottage where you built it kinda out of whatever you had available and some tool marks are fine. I did refuse to put any hammer dings in the face frames though. :)

“Cottage with some modern flair” is how she described it. So some “rustic” touches are fine. I just don’t want it to end up looking too rustic. This is hard work and I want people to go, “Wow…. you built all this?”

So… painted cabinets, but a 3 ft wide stainless farm sink and a stainless range hood over the island cooktop. And Blum Tandembox drawers on the “work side” of the kitchen. The backsplash at the sink is going to be wide plank pine flooring that’s been whitewashed. The 3 and a half by 8 foot island top is going to be walnut. The counter around the sink is bone colored Corian. I’m liking how the different materials are coming together, but it’s a lot of work when you do it all by yourself. :)

View DS's profile


2917 posts in 2416 days

#7 posted 06-11-2012 03:57 PM

Charlie, I would edge the plywood with solid stock to the thickness of your routed profile. Thintape for square edge, 1/8” for 1/8” roundover, 3/8” for an ogee profile, etc.
This will give you a better surface for painting.
IMHO, the edges of plywood will never look right under paint.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2260 days

#8 posted 06-11-2012 04:22 PM

Careful with that belt sander on plywood. You’ll burn through the veneer really, really quickly.

Since you don’t mind the edges of the plywood because of the paint covering them, you’ll need to make sure you fill them smooth and get a good coat of primer on them. Some types of plywood like to suck up paint on the edges.

Let me know how that lacquer holds up on the inside of the drawer. If you had the option, I’d cover it with poly, hit it with paint, then finish with clear. On the fronts though, you could try something similar. It may keep you from burning through the veneer when you sand it. I’d say the clearcoat final would be optional though.

Just some thoughts or ideas for you.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#9 posted 06-11-2012 04:37 PM

Doss, this isn’t “big box” plywood. It’s 3/4 Baltic Birch from a place that supplies cabinet shops. It’s 13 plies and I’ve gone through 2 sheets of 5/8 and this one sheet of 3/4 and haven’t seen even a small void or “fat spot” in a ply like I’ve seen with even the BEST of the big box plywood. I haven’t worked with Baltic Birch in probably 30 years. This is every bit as nice as I remember. :)

I’m going to try rounding it with the router. Carefully. And if it doesn’t give an acceptable result, I can trim each panel by 1/4 inch and then glue a hard edge on it and round THAT over.

Thanks, all.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#10 posted 06-12-2012 12:01 PM

Well…. on my practice piece, it rounded beautifully. No tearout, no chipping, smooth as glass. Better result than some hardwoods I’ve routed. This stuff is solid. :)

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2260 days

#11 posted 06-12-2012 02:24 PM

That’s great Charlie. Just remember that any of those things can happen at any time when routing (I’m sure you know that).

What were you so worried about? LOL

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2282 days

#12 posted 06-12-2012 02:44 PM

I worry about EVERYTHING. It’s my job. :)
Building the cabinets for the kitchen is getting me into a whole lot of places I’ve either never been or haven’t been in 30 years or more. Some stuff I remember quite well. Other things are ….. well I’m concerned about doing something, ruining a piece for which I’d have to go out and buy more material, and then saying, “THAT’s why you don’t do it that way!”

I had a really bad car accident in 2001. I have what I lovingly refer to as “holes in my memory”. Stuff I KNOW I’ve done before, but have forgotten how I did them before. Some stuff like that, I remember once I start doing it (or after I screw something up). Muscle memory? I don’t know. Other stuff is more like relearning. I didn’t have a head injury or anything. But I was dead for almost 20 minutes. “Holes in my memory” is a small price to pay to be able to come back and watch my kids grow up and share time I might not otherwise have had with my wife. :)

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