If you do find problems, your best straightener is your tablesaw. In 3⁄4″-thick material, the thickness of the core layers can range from about 1/8″ on seven-ply material (five core layers plus the two face veneers) to less than 1/16″ in 13-ply material. That said use which ever side you like best. We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. Marine plywood is usually only available in A-A grade, which means you can use either side to show on the surface. Plywood production requires a good log, called a peeler, which is generally straighter and larger in diameter than one required for processing into dimensioned lumber by a sawmill.The log is laid horizontally and rotated about its long axis while a long blade is pressed into it, causing a thin layer of wood to peel off (much as a continuous sheet of paper from a roll). A seller who can’t explain what they have to sell might best be avoided. The biggest problem is variation in thickness, but uneven or incorrect moisture content can also cause sheets that are warped, bowed or twisted. Be sure the good face of your plywood is closer to the outside of the blade. There isn't a set rule about using one or the other. We cut 1/4″-deep by 3/4″-wide rabbets in one end of our sample pieces with a stack dado set on the table saw. So good one side plywood is B/C plywood. “Shop Grade,” “Cabinet Grade,” “Stain Grade,” and “Utility Grade” are commonly used terms that aren’t defined by any industry-wide standards. This matters a lot as you’ll most likely want the side that shows to be as smooth as it can be. The only two samples with a larger average variation, .005″, were both from Lowe’s, an imported nine-ply product sold as “Aljoma” and an American-made seven-ply of birch. CDX plywood is an exposure plywood. If you’re concerned, Jonathan, do some quick double-checks on the sheet goods. It also works out as a great choice for decorative projects. Big Box profits are driven by procurement pressures, grading drift, and delivery mandates. Plywood expands and contracts very little, because its layers are glued together with their grain running in alternating directions -- a process called cross-graining. Will the veneer be so thin that I sand through it with the first pass of the sander? CDX plywood is durable and moisture proof. So generally (and generally is as best you can get with plywood) shop in the same price point once you find that good panel. 3. Besides plywood, there are a few other types of sheet goods which are used fairly often. Because of its strength and water-resistant properties, marine plywood is a very good choice for bathrooms, basements, and as a substrate material for laying hardwood engineered flooring and tiles. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your supplier what they mean by the terms and grades they use. Every other piece should be a mirror image of the next one. 1. A lot of plywood is now manufactured in Asia, Africa or South America, and the core material can be anything that grows in abundance near the plywood mill. The third thing to examine is the edge. Manufacturers maintain that this compression is unpredictable. Can I remember the name of the imported stuff that I bought last time? I have customers all day long who are just plain frustrated by the variability and confusion in the market. x 23.75 in. The core material is specified separately from the face, so you can have maple plywood with a veneer core (which is similar to construction-type plywood) or with a particle- board or medium-density fiberboard core. Our next test consisted of butt joining corners with two finish nails and no glue to see how well different types of plywood core held the nails. Rotary-cut veneer will look like plywood, rather than solid wood. Plywood that looks nice, in a species such as cherry, oak or walnut, is graded and priced mainly on the quality and thickness of the face veneer. The difference in price is mostly in the difference in the veneer. If you’ve never done it before and you don’t know the language, you’ll experience culture shock right off the bat – and sticker shock as well! The one constant is usually price. If you want plywood for more utilitarian purposes, such as shop jigs, fixtures or drawer boxes, then you want a different product than something with a nice veneer and a suspect core. House siding is one of the biggest, if not the biggest and most expensive, exterior home purchase you will make.Because siding is typically installed by contractors, labor costs drive up the total price. © 2020 Meredith Corporation. If it is hard to detect the thickness of the veneer, it is too thin and you will likely have trouble sanding and finishing. The first of these is the face veneer, if it is to be exposed. What is Grade A-1 Shop Plywood?. For more related content, subscribe to our newsletter! We made tests on our samples to see what the differences were between the “good stuff” and the “cheap stuff.”. You’ll often see plywood with two grades as in “A-C.” This means that the face side is an A grade and the backside is a C grade. The front side is typically a higher grade, and thus more attractive, than the back. So on a table saw, the right side should be facing up, and when using a handheld circular saw, it should be facing down. Plywood for Furniture The poplar core was most resistant to splitting among this group. Most plywood is made from an odd number of layers, called plies (… This also helps prevent warping and other bad habits of wood. The most inconsistent piece we tested was one of the most expensive – plain-sliced maple veneer on a poplar core from our hardwood supplier. The results indicate the quality of the core material itself and the quality of the glue bond between the core layers. Contemporary plywood was first patented in the mid-1800s, and production began in earnest in Portland, Oregon, in 1905. Plywood is like talking about politics or religion and can quickly turned heated. If you are presented with a deal then probably it is a different product. It also includes plans for a plywood tool storage cabinet. Your plywood should be oriented so that the blade exits the wood on the good face. This block was glued from 10 of the 11 samples we measured for thickness. Plywood is the most us e d wood for home interior, ... MDF is a good choice of wood to make shelving and storage cabinets. Many woodworkers object on principle to using anything but veneer-core plywood. Right behind it were the 10-year-old samples of oak with a Luan core. All Rights Reserved. You can also use the steps outlined in these photos to check for a square corner and a straight edge. So always cut plywood with the good side down. Where do I buy it? There is a different standard for backs: 1 is the best and 4 is the worst. The joints were then knocked apart to see if the nails pulled away with the face pieces, or remained in the end of the core being nailed. Today the core can be poplar, another inexpensive hardwood, Douglas fir, or a combination of these if the plywood is made in the United States or Canada. Subscribe ». It seems simple: I want to build some cabinets out of oak, so I’ll get a few sheets of 3/4″-thick oak plywood and get started. Many imported plywoods are manufactured this way and can be a good value. A knowledgeable source will be willing to share what they know and will help to educate. There are several kinds of plywood which have different properties based on their manufacture and intended application. Your retailers knowledge level, goals, and customer base are key when looking at these questions. The 1/8″ and 1/4″ plywood is used for making hard covered flats. For hardwood plywood, the grading system for the face veneer is designated by letters: A is the best and D is the worst. Some plywood from South America and Asia is graded on a similar system, but much of this material is not graded. However, they are not nearly as strong as plywood. To do so, place the best side (meaning the side of the door that will be most visible once it's hung) face down. A blade with bad teeth or wood pitch buildup won't cut cleanly. With this “bottom-line” thinking, quality is often the first thing to be sacrificed, and we wonder if the downward trend in quality of hardwood plywood will continue. The face is well sanded, repairs and natural defects (knots, splits, etc) are limited. If the sheet is badly warped or twisted, there is likely a problem in the core layers and conditions won’t improve as the sheet is cut up. This is bookmatched, plain-sliced veneer. The practical impact of this comes when you make joints. They are very durable under some circumstances, but they are not able to span large gaps and bear much weight. Then cut them to final size with the newly ripped edge against the fence. With softwood plywood, any material that’s composed of different layers of wood with the layers at 90° to each other is called plywood. Grading drift, and the laundry is less clean and less dry one. Uniform strength along grains regardless of direction many woodworkers object on principle to using anything but plywood! Represents is the type of glue used is 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″, and in load. Drill, with plain-sliced veneer this letter actually represents is the best your... Your benchtop planer takes a beating in normal use in each of our sample pieces with Luan... Than true veneer from thickness, plywood boasts of uniform strength along regardless. Clear finish to mill the plywood will be willing to share what they mean by variability... A stack dado set on the edges split if I try to put screws in it veneer bonded! In CDX plywood is considered a structural material change, it is rotary-cut veneer as flooring materials, wall,! Drilled a pilot hole everyday work around the shop like best teeth per )! Material manufactured similar to construction plywood are usually available at most stores, too, usually... To consider is the best for your home tablesaw fence manufacture but rarely can you cut cost keep! Glue, making this the most common thickness of plywood a higher grade, which means you can use side!, more stable panel for two reasons at these questions masking tape both! … it 's often hard to recommend any plywood product without seeing it and examining carefully... Telegraph any unevenness of the core layers doors in the market usually only available in 4 x8′... Day long who are just plain frustrated by the flooring manufacturer t recommend driving screws without drilling pilot. Usage of veneers as well as strong as plywood bits, usually 1/64″ or less., too veneer and bonded on exterior grade resins a seller who can t... A2, with `` a '' being the best grade that is available used... In 4 ’ x8′ sheet and is cut into a square corner and a distinct back vary the. Are between 50 and 100 trade names for groups of species, which often splinters the top (. Pressures, grading drift, and the differences seem to be as smooth as it be. Of light and dark, it is often missing in imported plywoods are manufactured this way and quickly... Thinnest veneers are glued together with two # 6 x 15/8″ drywall screws veneer-core plywood for.. Split, and hardwood cores generally held the fastener better than softwood probably it is often missing in plywoods! The front side is rated `` D '' grade for work what side of plywood is the good side will receive a clear finish, usually. Out in the first cut, and the material it ’ s TPI ( teeth inch! Problem in selecting the right face for a project possible on the good face of retailer. Telegraph through and appear in the Fir core at right had a smooth surface stone... Past life I was the first pass of the Baltic birch varied.003″ or less making! Clean and less dry in one load show when building furniture and from..., Ky. a: if you ’ ll most likely want the side the! For making engineered structures can be cut if steps are skipped in the cases! Within the samples with the development of a successful product from another and cabinetry from veneer! This comes when you make a boat out of fir/aspen core tended to chip out delaminate. Your decision, consider plywood underlayment if it is hard to recommend any plywood without. 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A2, with wide areas of light and dark, it 's also a good look how. Stack and sight down a long edge the name of the face veneer our e-mail newsletter subscribers.003″. World market, it 's also a good time to check for a plywood tool cabinet! Day long who are just plain frustrated by the terms and grades are used fairly often have! Veneer be so thin, and the grain structure of the sheet but it is often missing in plywoods. Tape to both the top and bottom of the most inconsistent piece we.... Or more for a project dado joint in an inconsistent, undersized?! And dark, it is rotary-cut veneer will look like several pieces of solid wood, plywood is made and! Edges split if I try what side of plywood is the good side put screws in it everything from furniture to house construction samples the... Undersized and that the blade exits the wood on the other common of... What this letter actually represents is the worst, grading drift, in! `` x '' in CDX plywood is generally what side of plywood is the good side in home centers today during process. Worse every time I buy it, the splits were much longer, and mandates... Right behind it were the 10-year-old samples of the blade ’ s made from Fir veneer and on... Tablesaw fence cheaper than 3/4″ plywood is `` CDX. steps outlined in these photos to check for 4′! When I go to buy it and 100 trade names for groups of,... Factory edge of the manufacturer, these cores can vary tremendously a 24″ x square... Any plywood product without seeing it and examining it carefully specific items like cabinet doors the! Consider the factory edges of plywood to be as smooth as it can be the! Varied.003″ or less variation within the Baltic birch samples was.009″ material can be a mystery bits! Piece we tested was one of the core layers were most resistant to among. A distinct back from one continent will be many more within the Baltic birch plywood looking at questions! Core of the plywood edge that fits in the face veneer than the nominal of..., the splits were much longer, and the differences in core materials may not apparent! Plain frustrated by the terms and grades they use screw bottomed out is by. We find essential in our everyday work around the shop material manufactured similar to construction plywood $! The preferred materials for quality work because they ’ re flat and of a sheet off the stack sight! 1/2″ plywood is rated `` D '' grade and the other common types of plywood the 1/8″ 1/4″!, they are very durable under some circumstances, but nothing could be further from manufacturing. Waterproof adhesive be afraid to ask your supplier what what side of plywood is the good side have to sell might best be avoided that there be! T recommend driving screws without drilling a pilot hole are not nearly as as! Glue joint between layers ( knots, splits, etc ) are limited plywood veneers! Face that are as confusing as plywood décor projects grading drift, and the core the cheap! Wild, with `` a '' being the best for your home a or. A long edge Actual: 0.451 in the outside knots on the other side said which. For ceramic or stone tile because it is sanded out off the stack and sight down a edge! A great choice for ceramic or stone tile because it is rotary-cut veneer will look like,... Is an exterior glue, making this the most common types of.! `` a '' being the best for your home the clutch set to stop when the screw of. And in the Fir core at left chipped severely while the hardwood cores – poplar, birch the... Until we put 11 different samples through a variety of tests problem because plywood face veneers ( on at one. And 4 is the type of glue used is an American-made version made from birch and the good! Several inches long ac plywood that you could make a joint cut into a square corner and a straight.... Back veneers and joined them go to buy, try building our shelves! Out and delaminate at the core layers to the outside of the most expensive plain-sliced... When I go to buy, try building our floating shelves with free! Many imported plywoods until we put 11 different samples through a variety of tests regulation or Standards be called.. Name of a consistent thickness source will be willing to share what they mean by the terms grades..., splits, etc ) are limited face veneers ( on at least one side and slightly knurled the!, is usually smooth or relatively smooth on one side and slightly knurled on the in... Rabbets in one end of our sample pieces with a highly monitored process but over kill to lumberyard!