Plywood in the shop

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Forum topic by Odiferous posted 04-10-2013 12:42 PM 1353 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 2189 days

04-10-2013 12:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router table plywood baltic birch finishing

I’m working on a router table out of 1/2” baltic birch ply, and the top will be formica’d, but I’m wondering about the longevity of the rest. I wasn’t particularly planning on finishing it, but that’s a lot of plywood edges exposed to the humidity of an un-climate-controlled shop for as many years as I can make it work.

I’ve seen the 50-75 year old boxes and tables in my grandfather’s shop, and the plywood is falling apart. Will modern baltic birch meet the same fate?

If I do need to finish it, I was hoping to go with something easier like Danish Oil, but I guess if I’m after moisture resistance I’d need to go with a poly. I just can’t help but feel like that’s overkill for something that lives in the shop.

14 replies so far

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2284 days

#1 posted 04-10-2013 12:55 PM

I would, at the very LEAST, seal the edges. Even if it’s just for the shop, the better you build it, the longer it will be before you’re making one to replace it. :)

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3315 days

#2 posted 04-10-2013 01:06 PM

That’s not overkill. Poly will do it. It will go on fast, and poly is cheap.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View TravisH's profile


578 posts in 1933 days

#3 posted 04-10-2013 03:56 PM

Overkill would really just dependent upon the individual. Take a quick look at some guys shops and you see from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some wouldn’t think of using plywood but would reach over to the stash of exotic lumber…. boils down to what you want to do. Most guys would end up rebuilding it anyway just because. However I see a much bigger issues:

I think most of us would be far more concerned about the likely hood we would be worm dirt before a plywood router table fell apart in that 50-75 year time span!!!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2336 days

#4 posted 04-10-2013 04:07 PM

Seal it, you will thank yourself later.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Dakkar's profile


323 posts in 1925 days

#5 posted 04-10-2013 04:28 PM

Edge sealing’s a good idea, but as a rule, I replace my router table every 50-75 years anyway.

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2807 days

#6 posted 04-10-2013 05:47 PM

Dakar, lol lol !

View Odiferous's profile


105 posts in 2189 days

#7 posted 04-10-2013 11:13 PM

What are y’all recommending as a sealant?

I don’t seriously expect this thing to last 50 years (hell, I’ll be thrilled if it works at all), but I’m sure that’s also what my grandfather thought when he made that stuff.

As for worm dirt; I hope to be making my best stuff ever in 50 years—we’ll see. Dad keeps wanting to give me HIS dad’s table saw, but hasn’t figured out how to convince my 94 year old grandfather that he doesn’t need it anymore.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2575 days

#8 posted 04-10-2013 11:26 PM

Quick and easy? Shellac.
Zinsser in a can is fine. That’s about as far as I’d go.

Also, unless you brace it, I’d rethink using baltic birch for the top. MDF works as the best surface for a router table, especially under formica.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View GT350's profile


368 posts in 1979 days

#9 posted 04-11-2013 04:50 AM

I use oil polyurethane in my shop on my tools and benches. Holds up well, very cleanable and lasts a long time. If you don’t seal it even if it holds up you will end up with uncleanable dirty hand prints all over it in time.

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3137 days

#10 posted 04-11-2013 09:37 AM

I used 3/4 melamine for my top. It should last 50 years as a router table, cheaper than BB ply, as flat as MDF, and you don’t have to glue formica on top. Just trim out the edges with solid wood.

View Woodknack's profile


11626 posts in 2378 days

#11 posted 04-13-2013 03:17 AM

as a rule, I replace my router table every 50-75 years anyway

That’s what’s wrong with the world today—young whippersnappers and your planned obsolescence!!
< shakes fist while chasing you off the lawn >

-- Rick M,

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3891 days

#12 posted 04-13-2013 03:33 AM

I’ve never owned a “permanent” router table ? and always look at the idiot with one eye cocked when they claim they need one ?

Why would anyone go to such gains to achieve what the machine was meant to do ?

when a simple stick as a fence and a hole through a piece of plywood

will suffice

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3891 days

#13 posted 04-13-2013 03:36 AM

the cut of fat through the waist of most men

defines their measure

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2888 days

#14 posted 04-13-2013 05:25 AM

I’m on router table#6.
I’ve used 3/4 ply on most with inch and a half tops.
Used oil poly for finish, inside and out.

I’ve NEVER worn one out. Just find a few more features to add.

That’d be about 10 years between tables.

Toss some finish on and take it for a run.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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