Best plywood to laminate over?

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Forum topic by krnbk2 posted 01-26-2014 12:02 PM 1283 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2218 days

01-26-2014 12:02 PM

So I am about to start a side project of building some new jewelry display showcase for my store. The current showcases I have were made of 3/4” plywood and had HPL applied to all visible surfaces. Considering they have been through 3 moves and 12+ years of abuse they have held up well. I have most of the details sorted out except for the type of plywood I am using. Wilsonart and Arborite were both useless in guiding me, they just told me to make sure the substrate is flat and clean (thanks!). Since I don’t need the veneered surfaces to be a specific species for matching I’m really just looking for something that is going to be flat, strong, durable, void free, etc. Before anyone recommends MDF, I have thought about it long and hard and just don’t think that it will hold up in a commercial/retail setting.

Maybe I am just being crazy and overthinking this? :-P

10 replies so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2573 days

#1 posted 01-26-2014 01:20 PM

Columbia purebond maple plywood is very smooth and flat, light and durable.
Baltic birch works well too.
I’ve laminated both with excellent results.

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

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2805 days

#2 posted 01-26-2014 02:50 PM

MDF and or the proper grade particle board will hold up very well in a commercial setting. Particle board is the preferred substrate for plastic laminates.

View Binn's profile


93 posts in 2950 days

#3 posted 01-26-2014 03:30 PM

I personally do not use or recommend particle board for any kind of cabinet making . You can use it for countertops in a area that will not be exsposed to water. For commercial underlayment is ok but MDF works better and is stronger against breakage. I am a 40 year veteran of installing laminate commercially and residentual. I have always used Melimine MDF for cabinets because you can laminate over it for commercial cabinets and what you will be working with. Another material you can use is a domestic plywood, don’t use chiniese birch for what your building. The domestic plywood or made in the US works well providing you buy a good grade, it might be expensive but worth the cost if you want it to last, particle board can break apart on corners even laminated. I don’t allow that in my shop at all I consider it junk. Melimine MDF is what we make our commercial cabinets with and laminate over it, works good if your not abusing it, but you have to know how to screw it together without spliting it apart (pre-drill screw holes). Hope this helps.

-- Barry, Louisiana

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1724 days

#4 posted 01-26-2014 03:56 PM

I would recommend a product called Goldply.
Good plywood core for strength, good flat surface to laminate on.

”Composite Plywood: (Goldply) Each manufacturer has their own brand name of this product. We refer to it as Goldply. This product combines the flat panel of an MDF or Particle Board with the screw strength hold of a veneer plywood. This looks similar to a veneer plywood panel only the two plies closest to both outside veneers are made with an MDF crossband instead of a veneer plywood. It does weigh more than an all veneer plywood, but it quite a bit less than MDF or Particle Board.”

For the record, I would rather use the Industrial PB to build with instead of MDF for commercial casework.

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3475 days

#5 posted 01-26-2014 04:00 PM

+1 on Columbia Purebond

They have different core options too.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Loren's profile


10383 posts in 3644 days

#6 posted 01-26-2014 04:28 PM

I think you’re underestimating particle board. There are
different grades and the stuff used in cheap furniture and
available at big box stores is the worst. Go down to a
commercial plywood dealer and have them show you the
grades they have.

View krnbk2's profile


3 posts in 2218 days

#7 posted 01-26-2014 04:29 PM

PB seems to be the product of choice from all of the custom case builders I spoke to as well. Maybe because I haven’t worked with commercial/industrial grade PB, I just have the predisposition that its just cant hold up to the strength/durability of a quality ply. Maybe I’m wrong?

I am going to see who stocks Columbia Purebond and Goldply in my area and buy a couple sheets. I have 8 cases to make and am going to do 1 test build first to get everything squared away.

Thanks for all the help!

View krnbk2's profile


3 posts in 2218 days

#8 posted 01-26-2014 04:32 PM

Loren, I definitely am underestimating it. When I go to the supplier I will see what they have in the way of quality PB.

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1724 days

#9 posted 01-26-2014 04:57 PM

As with anything it depends on how something is built. (Just as Binn said with the mdf. )

View basswood's profile


261 posts in 1617 days

#10 posted 01-26-2014 05:01 PM

You want “IGPB” Industrial Grade Particle Board, or a GoldPly type composite ply.

Read the contact cement instructions, rather than just what WisonArt of Formica tell you. Some adhesives only warranty their product if used with IGPB or MDF as substrates. Plywood need not apply for the position.

Here is one of my projects that was featured in a jewelry trade publication. It sounds like the sort of thing you might be doing.

Good success, Brian


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