Is there such a thing as mid grade plywood?

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Forum topic by LearningAsIGo posted 10-12-2013 05:09 AM 1891 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 2812 days

10-12-2013 05:09 AM

Through google searches I’m trying to educate myself about plywood and what will work best for my purposes. I still don’t really know which is better…lumber vs veneer core and rotary vs plain sliced. So there is Home Depot Purebond ($40 for a 3/4” 4×8 sheet) which the overall consensus seems to be it’s crap. And then there is the plywood at my local lumber yard which none seems to be available for under $100/sheet. OK I guess baltic birch is $99 but that’s only a 5×5 sheet so you are getting less product over a 4×8. I prefer to paint things instead of stain, if that makes a difference. I use some joinery methods but for the most part use my kreg jig. Is there such a thing as mid grade plywood? Not super high quality but not Home Depot “junk” either?

14 replies so far

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1846 posts in 2492 days

#1 posted 10-12-2013 07:04 AM

My lumber supplier sells a shop grade plywood which is basically the high quality stuff except with cosmetic blemishes on the veneer faces. It usually has one decent side and is often priced no more than $70 a sheet.

-- See my work at and

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97 posts in 1898 days

#2 posted 10-12-2013 07:24 AM

if you’re gonna paint it, mdf may be a good way to go, a lot of high grade plywoods use an mdf core, and mdf from home depot is fine since it really doesn’t move

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1041 posts in 3319 days

#3 posted 10-12-2013 11:03 AM

I don’t know about MDF (mostly because of dust and possibility of water damage), but Jon is right on about things that are painted. When painted, you can fix any holes or voids in the wood, hence use cheaper materials.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

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15649 posts in 2794 days

#4 posted 10-12-2013 12:51 PM

Don’t know what it is you wish to build (shop cabinets, kitchen cabinets or furniture) but a decent approach might be to get some recommendations from your local lumber yard. If it’s shop cabinets, lowest grade and fix/fill/paint. If it ends up being more work that you’d like, step up a grade.

There is ply out there with one good face, so that’s an option. If you have a ROS to hit on the rough side that’s good too. I’ve not worked with MDF ever, so cannot comment on it.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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19255 posts in 2032 days

#5 posted 10-12-2013 01:51 PM

I’ve used what I call cabinet grade plywood. It is usually just as smooth as oak or birch ply, but made of some lesser wood. It is great for painting, cheaper, but not always available at Home Depot. MDO is great for painting but not real cheap. I have found it at menards.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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50 posts in 2812 days

#6 posted 10-12-2013 06:55 PM

I prefer to avoid MDF because it’s so heavy.

I may be building kitchen cabinets in the future but for now I’m specifically planning on building nightstands a dresser and maybe a storage bed.

What is an ROS?

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1564 posts in 3419 days

#7 posted 10-12-2013 07:25 PM

ROS = random orbital sander

And knowing what you are building helps with the recommendations.
My local home depot occasionally carries a pine based (I think) plywood that has 7or 9 plies for the 3/4 thick 4×8 sheets and it is usually about $40 a sheet. they also carry a name called arauco plywood which usually runs less than $50 a sheet and they have that most of the time. It also has 7 or 9 plies. Both have good surfaces that are mostly smooth grain and knot free.
If you have more than 1 home depot locally, check them all out. Stock will vary between stores. My local Lowe’s carries the arauco often too. Also look for local wood suppliers. They usually have a much larger and better selection than HD or lowes.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

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50 posts in 2812 days

#8 posted 10-12-2013 08:34 PM

I don’t think I have ever seen 7 or 9 plies at Home Depot or Lowes and we don’t have Menards up here in New England. Should I be able to get decent quality paintable plywood for $70?

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330 posts in 3219 days

#9 posted 10-12-2013 08:57 PM

Mike – WhoMe – is right. Check out the arauco plywood at HD. For what you’re trying to do should work. The HD in my area does not have it all the time, but when they do it’s around $33 (it used to be $26). I just checked, it is 6 plies and the outside plies are 1/8” +/-, so it can be sanded without the risk of burning through.

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3261 posts in 2851 days

#10 posted 10-12-2013 11:51 PM

I don’t have a HD or Lowes so I go to a local lumber yard. I pay a little over $50 for a sheet of “Varsity Birch”. It is good quality and has more plies than the AC fir plywood that you see. It paints well and is good quality. If you don’t like the quality at big box stores then go to a real lumber yard. If we don’t support them then they will go out of business and you will be at the mercy of big box stores. If you don’t think so then look at Wal-Mart and tell my about all the stores we used to have to shop in and now Wal-Mart controls the prices you pay because they are the only store in town.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2860 days

#11 posted 10-13-2013 12:08 AM

My “local” sells “A/B” full sheets for around $65…perfect for where the “B” side will not be seen like…although lately I think it’s getting to “B/C” but the “B” is still pretty nice.

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3182 posts in 3406 days

#12 posted 10-13-2013 03:02 AM

The lumber yard I buy from sells a China Birch good one side for about $40 per sheet. Your mileage may vary. Some sheets are good and some are not. That is what I used to build the shop cabinets in my garage.

They also sell maple for about $70. Next level up is about $120 per sheet.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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1622 posts in 3467 days

#13 posted 10-13-2013 03:43 AM

Rotary vs. plain sliced is purely a cosmetic issue, and since you plan to paint, it doesn’t matter. It only applies to the face veneer; rotary cut veneer is sawn off the log like a continuous strip of paper towels coming off the roll, so it looks like one wide uninterrupted board. Plain sliced is made up of edge to edge butted strips that came out of the log the same way as “flat sawn” lumber (it is flat sawn lumber, just real thin) so it looks like a panel made of edge-glued boards.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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370 posts in 3353 days

#14 posted 10-13-2013 04:08 AM

The Lowes near me sells the Chinese birch and I hate it. It’s relatively cheap (last sheet I bought was in the $35 -$40 range) and it also has some fairly big variances in thickness. One side will be mottled and the other decent.

The Menards in my area carries various grades of Birch, Oak and Maple. From my experiences (I’ve bought a lot of the maple ply) have been excellent. I do believe it is graded ‘B’ with the 3/4 typically around $50. The good thing about this particular store is that they often have ‘Made in America’ sales….this ply is made in the U.S. and falls into sale.

-- If at first you don't succeed then maybe skydiving isn't for you.

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