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Solid Wood or Plywood for Drawers?

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Forum topic by Hellaenergy posted 03-14-2009 05:54 AM 35307 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Hellaenergy

53 posts in 3202 days


03-14-2009 05:54 AM

I’m wondering what peoples opinions are in regards to the material that make up drawer sides and backs? Is it considered higher quality furniture when they are made from solid wood? From a stability standpoint it seems like plywood would be the right choice hands down. What do all the artisans out there use for their high end furniture?


19 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3779 days


#1 posted 03-14-2009 06:02 AM

Solid wood.

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Hellaenergy

53 posts in 3202 days


#2 posted 03-14-2009 06:03 AM

Dennis, how did you come to that opinion?

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3779 days


#3 posted 03-14-2009 06:18 AM

It is all about looks. Plywood is a very practical material for drawers. In any kitchen where money is an issue I use plywood drawers. Same with furniture. They are just as strong as an Omnijig Dovetail Alder drawer, but the ladies don’t go googly eyed over plywood. Both materials work, both can do the job. The rest is all opinion. Then again with poor workmanship, or cheap materials, you might as well make them out of melamine.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3564 days


#4 posted 03-14-2009 06:30 AM

I do both solid and baltic birch drawer boxes. It depends on the level of project.

I am currently building a paint-grade banquet and it will have two large drawers coming out the ends. These drawers will be made from baltic birch.

These same clients had me build an entry bench that was stain grade from tiger maple. That project called for solid maple drawers.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

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Hellaenergy

53 posts in 3202 days


#5 posted 03-14-2009 06:58 AM

So do those who use solid wood use quarter sawn? What cut is best for solid drawers?

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3564 days


#6 posted 03-14-2009 07:09 AM

I have only used plain or rift sawn and not had a problem.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

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Hellaenergy

53 posts in 3202 days


#7 posted 03-14-2009 07:39 AM

Have any of you ever used Spanish Cedar for your drawers? If so, what are your opinions of it in this application?

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3287 days


#8 posted 03-14-2009 01:35 PM

I use both plywood and solid material for my drawers depending on the end use of the project, much as Todd is describing. I use plywood in those situations where the end result is not as demanding such as for shop furniture. For those situations that involve a more visible use I use solid material.

Another difference I have with the two is in the joinery. Plywood works better for me using dado/rabbet or simple butt joinery. I generally use drawer lock joints with solid material. The other drawback with plywood is the exposed plys. To get a better looking drawer these need to be edge banded.

For furniture I have only used cherry, maple and oak for drawer material. But Spanish cedar should work just fine.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Moron's profile

Moron

5032 posts in 3358 days


#9 posted 03-14-2009 02:50 PM

its all about the “budget”.

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

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 3453 days


#10 posted 03-14-2009 03:00 PM

For fine furniture I always use oak. It will last forever.

For my cabinets in the shop I used ply.

Both will work.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View anotherbrick's profile

anotherbrick

73 posts in 3121 days


#11 posted 03-14-2009 03:02 PM

though i’m a plywood manufacturer,if not think about budget,i’ll prefer to solid wood

-- china

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3564 days


#12 posted 03-14-2009 04:31 PM

This is kind of interesting to see where people fall on the subject.

I would prefer solid wood but “building to budget” is a term that comes to mind.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Hellaenergy's profile

Hellaenergy

53 posts in 3202 days


#13 posted 03-14-2009 05:08 PM

I agree with Todd this is very interesting. I appreciate all the feedback from everyone.

CessnaPilotBarry, I’m glad you brought up finishing. Why no finish on the inside? Why finish them all?

What type of cedar do you use? I hear Spanish Cedar can leak sap for quite a while after cutting if not kiln dried properly. I am drawn to the benefits of cedar, though. I like the smell and stability factor it brings.

View Charles Mullins's profile

Charles Mullins

94 posts in 3177 days


#14 posted 03-14-2009 06:31 PM

I prefer solid, either soft maple or yellow poplar especially on fine furniture. However plywood is permissable in cabinetry if you are using metal drawer sides.

I always use iron on veneer to hide the plys when using plywood. It makes it look real good and the ladies really like it better.

That’s my opinion.

Charlie M.

-- God makes the wood beautiful--I simply rearrange it to make it more useful, hopefully.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3529 days


#15 posted 03-14-2009 08:24 PM

I use sheet goods for the bottoms only, as I am not fond of seeing the laminated edges on a drawer box, but the bottom line is time and money, especially if you are a business person. As the other gentlemen have noted it’s the client’s choice.

As to Spanish Cedar, which I routinely use in jewelry boxes in some form (love the smell), I have not been happy using it for a bottom – it’s rather soft and dings easily. I sometimes use resawn SC laminated to the inside of a lid (unfinished), or for ledger strips to hold up tills or trays, dividers etc. Usually what I have on hand has been dry for a long time so I haven’t had much sap bleed, and I usually burnish it with very fine grit sandpaper to close off the pores.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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