Newb with plywood

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Forum topic by ScottStewart posted 02-27-2014 07:02 PM 1347 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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119 posts in 2281 days

02-27-2014 07:02 PM

I have graduated to where I don’t embarrass myself at the hardwood dealer when buying solid wood.

But SWMBO wants built ins next to the fireplace. She wants these to be painted. I am going to make these out of Ply with wood face frames, edging. What should I ask for at the plywood stuff since I am not that interested in an amazing looking veneer but am more concerned about voids and structural soundness.

From my initial research I have heard about poplar or baltic birch ply, any ideas

Thanks for any ideas

11 replies so far

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2219 days

#1 posted 02-27-2014 07:08 PM

Ive gotten to the point where I only use the baltic for unpainted stuff. I find the cabinet grade home depot birch to be great for painting. Not as nice a ply as the baltic, but a lot cheaper for me. I save my baltic for really nice stuff, or shop jigs where flatness is more important. If its being painted, then I go to HD.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2824 days

#2 posted 02-27-2014 07:11 PM

In my area there is a plywood that is sold as Varsity Birch. It has no voids and good veneer at a reasonable price. I has more plies than fir plywood such as AC. It comes in 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4 inch thickness. I use it and find it works well for many projects. The next step up is Baltic Birch.

View DrDirt's profile


4464 posts in 3891 days

#3 posted 02-27-2014 07:32 PM

You definietly want sanded ply, but since you are painting, you don’t need a hardwood veneer.

As others point out you do want no voids and knots. At our local home center (Menards) there is prefinished maple ply – which is already sealed and easy to paint (other then the fresh cut edges). I like to make shelving out of this, as the uv/epoxy finish is ready to go without me fussing with it, and it only costs an extra buck an sheet.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3512 days

#4 posted 02-27-2014 08:09 PM

Birch plywood for the carcase and poplar for face frames and shelf edges. Both take paint reasonably well and you don’t get grain telegraphing through the finish.

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3634 days

#5 posted 02-27-2014 08:25 PM

Just like Vincent, I use furniture grade birch ply with poplar face frame/nosing.
You’ll find some voids, but you’ll cover them with the nosing.

-- Steve--

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29879 posts in 2487 days

#6 posted 02-27-2014 09:07 PM

Furniture or cabinet grade plywood. Not cheap, but worth it.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View ScottStewart's profile


119 posts in 2281 days

#7 posted 02-27-2014 10:21 PM

Monte, what do I ask for to get furniture grade ply? I’m not opposed to buying good ply, but I don’t see any reason to pay for amazing looking veneer since I’m going to be painting it. My understanding is that the letter grade applies to the face veneer rather than the interior piles?

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2103 days

#8 posted 02-27-2014 10:38 PM

Call some sign painters and ask where they get their MDO, (medium density overlay) sign board. It is a plywood core with a resin impregnated MDF surface. It takes paint like a dream, because that is what it is designed for. They use it for signs that live outside. Any sign painter can give you the rest of the good news. More expensive than cheap plywood, but not as expensive as Baltic birch. Other than that, some cabinet grade birch plywood paints up pretty good, too, but you will always see the grain.

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2445 days

#9 posted 02-27-2014 10:43 PM

Don’t know how wide or deep your shelves will be but you can save some money by using MDF for certain components. Just putting it out there.

View John_H's profile


177 posts in 1854 days

#10 posted 02-27-2014 11:53 PM

I would also suggest MDO for any paint grade project involving sheet goods. It is more expensive, but the time and effort saved getting it ready to paint is well worth it

View bigblockyeti's profile (online now)


5230 posts in 1869 days

#11 posted 02-28-2014 12:01 AM

Baltic birch usually isn’t too expensive, very flat and stable. AC isn’t bad, but not nearly as stable and could potentially warp, usually much cheaper than Baltic birch but would need more sanding.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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