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Forum topic by MrUnix posted 11-12-2014 08:14 PM 1378 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


11-12-2014 08:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: portrait plywood question

I’ve read all over the place that the preferred wood for portrait work is 1/8” baltic birch. Problem is, that stuff seems pretty darn hard to find locally (1/4” is about as thin as I can find). I’ve done a couple of pieces using lauan found at the big box store, and they have turned out really well, so I’m wondering how much different the birch ply would be and is it worth the price to buy online and pay for shipping. Shipping thin stock concerns me though, as it seems like there would be a lot of opportunity to get damaged, gouged, nicked, bumped, etc.. Should I be and is it worth it?

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid


16 replies so far

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Jim Finn

2413 posts in 2387 days


#1 posted 11-13-2014 01:10 AM

Our local hobby shop has it and thinner. Used to build model airplanes.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

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sawdust703

270 posts in 885 days


#2 posted 11-13-2014 02:05 AM

try a local cabinet shop or two, MrUnix. Sometimes they’ll have it around. Be prepared when they hit ya with the price. Out here in the middle of nowhere Kansas, I’ve learned to use Luan for a lot of my portraits. I also have a good friend that builds cabinets for a living, and when I get myself in a tight, I knock on his door. I can get the Luan in a 4’ x 8’ sheet for $15. It lasts me awhile, or until I come across a better deal on 1/8” material.

-- Sawdust703

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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


#3 posted 11-13-2014 08:21 PM

Thanks guys.. I ran over to the local arts & crafts store (Michaels) today to look for a frame, and I remembered Jim’s suggestion. Sure enough, they had 1/8” birch ply, so I grabbed a couple of sheets to try out. Largest they carry is 12”x24” which I can live with for now.. will get two 8×10’s out of it plus a little left over for smaller stuff. Price wasn’t too bad either. About twice what the lauan costs, but still pretty cheap. If I need anything larger, I’ll call around to see if any cabinet shops can get it for me.

I guess the major problems people seem to have with luan (lauan) is tearout and voids. I haven’t experienced any tearout or major splintering, but maybe that’s due to my prep.. I seal the boards with a 50/50 mix of poly/thinner first to help bind the fibers, and use copious amount of packing tape on both sides. I have run across a few voids, but they are pretty small and not really noticable unless you get right up to it and examine the edges closely. Certainly can’t seem them when looking at it from a couple of feet away. Maybe I’ve been lucky so far.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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jmartel

6574 posts in 1615 days


#4 posted 11-13-2014 08:28 PM

Brad,

Try going to a Woodcraft if you have one. They sell 1/8” plywood and 1/16” plywood as well. The 1/16” is expensive, but the 1/8” can be reasonable. I think I just paid $9 for a 24×30 sheet of 1/8”.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


#5 posted 11-13-2014 09:05 PM

Try going to a Woodcraft if you have one. They sell 1/8” plywood and 1/16” plywood as well. The 1/16” is expensive, but the 1/8” can be reasonable. I think I just paid $9 for a 24×30 sheet of 1/8”

Man, I wish there was a Woodcraft around here.. closest one is more than a two hour drive away from me. The stuff I found at Michaels isn’t too bad.. it’s about $4 for a 12×24 sheet. The 1/16” stuff does sound interesting though!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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Madwood

68 posts in 2516 days


#6 posted 11-14-2014 12:09 AM

The last BB ply I bought was $30 for a 5×5 sheet. BB ply has no voids and is less prone to warping and tearout than regular birch ply or luan. Yeah, it’s more expensive, but it’s worth it tome. Try Sloan’s for decent deals.

-- In the shop making chaos out of order

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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


#7 posted 11-17-2014 12:23 AM

Anyone heard of ‘revolution ply’ from Patriot lumber? ( web site )

I don’t think I’d go out and buy it over BB, but I just happened to find a boat load of the stuff today.. for free. I filled up the back of my pickup truck with it. Most of it was around 2’x2’ but there were some larger 4’ pieces as well. All 1/8” thick. Looks like pretty nice stuff; very light colored face and straight grained with little or no defects. If it cuts about the same as luan, I think I have all the material I need for the next few holidays, and more.. :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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bruc101

1077 posts in 3007 days


#8 posted 11-17-2014 01:50 AM

I have a friend that does portraits. 1/8 inch BB is not easy to get here so I get him 1/4 at our cost. He made a sled for his drum sander to put the 1/4” on and sands one side and takes it down to 1/8”.

We recently had a full pallet of 1/2 inch BB come in for a special job. The top and bottom layers to protect the BB were 1/8 inch thick BB. I made him beg for it lol.

If you have a cabinet shop vendor close to you why not ask them if they get the same protection sheets with their BB. Most likely they would sale it to you.

I’ll add this too. Woodworkers should make themselves friends with a cabinet shop. I have several woodworking buddies in my area and I buy most all of their wood and plywood and let them have it at my cost. it makes a difference in them being able to enjoy their hobby or do the best they could on small budgets.

-- Bruce Free Plans http://plans.sawmillvalley.org

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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


#9 posted 12-04-2014 08:25 PM

Thought I’d post this for anyone interested in using the revolutionply stuff I asked about. The big box store has it pretty cheap at about $15 for a 4×8 sheet. It’s main sales pitch is that it is a ‘green’ product made from sustainable sources, and they claim their products: “are free of tropical hardwoods, originate from plantation and renewable sources and are certified for points toward ICC-700 National Green Building Standardâ„¢ (NGBS).”. So for those of you who care about the future of the planet, this is a good thing.

It seems to cut pretty well, has no voids and the face is completely blemish free as it’s an engineered veneer that has a straight wood grain look to it. It seems a little more fragile than birch, but about the same as lauan, so you need to be carefull on very narrow and delicate sections. I really only have two complaints about using it for portraits.. first off, the face ply has a redish tint to it. This may not be much of a concern for some, but I like the wood to contrast as much as possible to the felt backing (usually black). It’s not too bad, but the lighter colors seem to really stand out a little better, particularly the fine detail stuff. And my other complaint is that they used a redish/orange glue between the plys that looks bad when you get up close:

From a distance, you can’t really tell.. but I’m a stickler for detail so it bugs the crap out of me :) All in all, it’s not too bad for the price and what it is (flooring underlayment), and is a green product. I’m going to keep using it, but for copies (stacking), with a good birch top layer as the primary portrait. That way I don’t feel too bad about trashing the copies if they are not needed. Will also use it for those ‘giveaway’ type things that don’t really warrant using the good stuff on. Just my observations.. YMMV!

Cheers,
Brad

PS: The picture above is revloutionply, but it is much lighter than it should be.. I found a couple of pieces that had an almost white face ply and have been using them first (as in the above). The normal color has much more of a redish tint to it.. check it out next time you are at the borg.

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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cebfish

129 posts in 2153 days


#10 posted 12-04-2014 11:36 PM

I thought wood was a renewable and green ??????

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MrUnix

4233 posts in 1664 days


#11 posted 12-08-2014 11:08 PM

Can be renewable if managed properly.. take a look at what happened to the forestry industry in the Phillipines for an example of what not to do :)

Anyway, thought I’d post this picture showing the difference in looks between the three woods (lauan, birch and revolutionply). Might be helpful for anyone considering which wood to use depending on what is being made. All three have been sanded and given a couple thin coats of polyurethane as a protective finish:

Cheers,
Brad

PS: Picture is of my daughter who I’m proud as heck of.. she is graduating nursing school this week (finally)!!!

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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jackifp

2 posts in 445 days


#12 posted 09-20-2015 05:08 PM

I live in the middle of nowhere – hours to the nearest box store, Michael’s, etc. I’ve been ordering Baltic birch through woodworkerssource.com with excellent results. From prices posted above, it’s close to the same, including shipping. You can choose configuration of size that they cut from the 5’x5’ board, such as 12”x30”. 1/8” on up. Cute email verification of your order and delivery within a week.

-- jacki, Northern CA, picarogordo.com

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jackifp

2 posts in 445 days


#13 posted 09-20-2015 05:21 PM

cebfish – I know this is a year later, but…wood is renewable and green, but the glues used in plywood are toxic, carcinogenic formaldehyde. It’s why you’re not supposed to burn plywood. Columbia Forest Products makes PureBond plywood with soy-based glues. Some Home Depots stock it – I’ve seen 1/4” , 4’x8’ sheet advertised for $25, which isn’t bad. Has anyone used it?

-- jacki, Northern CA, picarogordo.com

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tomsteve

394 posts in 685 days


#14 posted 09-21-2015 11:21 AM

even though a year old thread, thought id chime in. might be a source people arent aware of.http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-8-3mm-x-8-5-x-11-Baltic-Birch-Plywood-for-CNC-Laser-Scoll-Saw-40-pieces-/351115020425?hash=item51c0160889

seller has 1/8” bb ply very reasonable and ive been happy with the quality. also has other lumbers for sale,too.

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hairy

2384 posts in 2998 days


#15 posted 09-21-2015 12:09 PM

I got some junk mail from Rockler in August, free ground shipping on orders of $25 or more, until the end of September. I loaded up on Baltic birch plywood. Might get some more, it’s good stuff. Check your junk mail before you recycle it.

My usual method of recycling junk mail is to take the ads out of 1 junk mail, and put them in the postage paid envelopes provided from another.

Great work on the portraits !!! I’ve been wanting to try that someday.

http://www.rockler.com/baltic-birch-plywood-24-inch-x-30-inch

-- stay thirsty my friends...

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