Prefinished plywood?

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Forum topic by JesseTutt posted 10-27-2012 09:09 PM 10884 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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854 posts in 2138 days

10-27-2012 09:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plywood prefinished plywood

Whenever I go my local plywood wholesaler for ply he always offers me prefinished. My understanding is that it has a finish sprayed on both faces. Cost difference is around $8 per sheet.

I have never purchased any. Yesterday, while picking up another sheet of 3/4 ply I was offered the prefinished ply. Today as I glue up some drawers and had to deal with glue squeeze out I was wondering about switching to the prefinished.

Have any of you used the prefinished plywood? What do you think?

Or, could I just spray the first coat of finish on the ply prior to cutting?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

14 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2314 days

#1 posted 10-27-2012 11:05 PM

I think the risk of working with finished lumber outweighs any advantage. I prefer to work the wood to the dimensions that I want then finish the parts that might be difficult when assembled. The rest is finished after it’s put together. Frankly I don’t know how anyone could not damage the finish otherwise.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2626 days

#2 posted 10-27-2012 11:28 PM

I have used it a few times, it is nice for the interior of cabinets, and some shop jigs and fixtures.

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#3 posted 10-27-2012 11:41 PM

For cabinets it’s the only way to fly. I’ve built tons of cabinets with prefinished ply,it saves time and money think about you finishing supply cost, also think about glue clean up. If your not using prefinished ply then you should shoot the inside before assembly. $8 is a real bargain considering all the hassle you save . Also factory finishes are tougher than most home sprayed finishes. If your making cabinets with face frames you still have to finish them.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2138 days

#4 posted 10-28-2012 12:49 AM

As A1Jim sez’... In the right places, it’s FANTASTIC!

I do all my cabinets using prefinsihed maple plywood, as it eliminates finishing the interiors and shelves, and the factory finish is definitely durable enough to make it through the cutting and assembly process. The finish is an insanely durable catalyzed, possibly heat cured, finish, not a home center polyurethane. None of the plywood shows on finished exterior surfaces.

I would NOT build furniture using it, as I can’t think of furniture where it would be appropriate.

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854 posts in 2138 days

#5 posted 10-28-2012 02:59 AM

Will glue squeeze out stick to the finish?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

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2387 posts in 3575 days

#6 posted 10-28-2012 03:55 AM

We have used pre finished for the last 2 years. No way would I not use pre finished. Of course this type of ply is only applicable for custom cabinetry and maybe dressers. We use 2 sided pre finish. Most cabinetry only needs 1 good side, while things like shelves need 2 good sides. Just be mindful and focused when using the ply and you will do great.

And to answer your question, the glue will dry on the surface of prefinished, but will easily peel right off after dried.

Oh yeah, quick story. A year ago at a new construction home, the plumber had a mishap and water lines flooded the cabinets. I was present when the water line soaked our cabinets. All the water just puddles up as it could not penetrate the finish. The finish from the factory is very even, consistent and durable.

-- .

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2455 days

#7 posted 10-28-2012 05:52 AM

I lined the interior of my last cabinet and saved a lot of headaches. Also used it on a drawer bottom, worked out great. I need some more – thanks for the reminder.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#8 posted 10-28-2012 06:54 AM

I use it for cabinets and drawers. It’s great stuff – not as
flat as melamine but stable enough, much lighter, easier
to cut nicely and it looks nice.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3589 days

#9 posted 10-28-2012 09:59 AM

If glue doesn’t bond to it, then I assume you use Kreg screws or ?? for assembly?

-- Joe

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2138 days

#10 posted 10-28-2012 11:39 AM

Screws work great, both in pockets and through the sides.

If you’re worried, the plywood could be dadoed or rabbeted, which would provide raw areas to glue.

Screws are fine for me, as the cabinets I’ve built from it get attached to walls, each other, and toe kick platforms. I also slide the backs into dados from the top, with glue in the dados, and a line of screws through the back into the top rail and fixed shelves.

View graywolf's profile


63 posts in 2721 days

#11 posted 10-28-2012 11:48 AM

All these folks are right the pre-finished plywood is good choice for a lot of projects, The finish is a conversion varnish that is baked making for a very durable finish.

-- Richard, North Carolina,

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Fred Hargis

5001 posts in 2521 days

#12 posted 10-28-2012 12:07 PM

I’ve been using prefinished ply for the last 4-5 years for any cabinets I built and like others, there’s no way I’d go back to the unfinished stuff. I use the Columbia Forest Products stuff (just happens to be what me dealer carries) so it’s very good plywood anyway. The finish is so tough I’ve yet to scratch/damage it while machining it. Screws are great for assembly, and glue will pop right off the surface. I typically use the finished-1-side stuff to save money. On the next cabinets I build I’m going to try a trick Alaska Guy suggested recently. No dadoes, rabbets, just butt joints on the carcase. Brad them together, square them up, and then screw them together. If you’ve ever saw the pics of the kitchen he did this way, you’d know how well it works!

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

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2387 posts in 3575 days

#13 posted 10-29-2012 02:58 AM

As far as the glue not sticking, we dado everything on our cabinets and assembly goes very well. We use 15g nails and glue for assembly. I keep a screw gun and screws near by in case I find a tough cabinet to pull together.

-- .

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#14 posted 10-29-2012 04:45 AM

No problem with gluing I just sand the edges a little where I glue up dados and I’ve never had a problem.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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