DANGER! Chinese Plywood

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Blog entry by Tom Adamski posted 04-03-2008 10:56 PM 37865 reads 0 times favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Danger! Chinese Plywood

Yes it’s cheap, and most of the time it will warp as soon as it is removed from the stack, but it can also be dangerous. Acording to an employee at Owl Hardwood in Lombard, IL, there is an instance where metal was found between the plys. The consumer that bought it found what appeared to be a utility knife blade while he was ripping the sheet on a table saw and in doing so, destroyed his blade. No coments if the person was injured, but I would not want to be around when pieces of carbide are being fractured off a spinning sawblade. Owl is a reputable dealer and promptly paid the customer not only for the wood, but the blade replacement too. I believe the people at Owl appreciate and respect their customers and after hearing about this, I feel even beter about doing business with them. I opted for the slightly more expensive Canadian birch ply and will never buy Chinese. Well, maybe some schezwan chicken for dinner…


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

46 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5277 days

#1 posted 04-03-2008 11:16 PM

Thanks Tom.

I don’t know that I have ever seen any. How could I recognize it and tell it from standard birch, maple or oak plywood that is available at Lowe’s or Home Depot?

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

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5477 days

#2 posted 04-03-2008 11:19 PM

The properly layered and glued dry plywood have a flat uniform surface where the Chinese plywoods mostly resemble corn flakes.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 5226 days

#3 posted 04-03-2008 11:33 PM

Other than it saying “Made in China” on the edge of the plywood, I’m not sure. You have to find a reputable vendor that knows what they are selling.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 5523 days

#4 posted 04-03-2008 11:52 PM

around here, Colorado, it is stamped on the side, made in china. You find it in Home Depot and Lowes. I have used some. The surface veneers are super thin and there do tend to be voids. Otherwise it is pretty cheap for something hidden. I wouldn’t want to use it for anything that would show.

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 5348 days

#5 posted 04-04-2008 01:13 AM

to be the devils advocate… doesnt have to be made in China to find steel buried under the surface that lies in wait for your table saw blade. I have seen it a hundred times, be the ply made in Canada, USA, Russia… can be low pressure PB, 80 gram paper up the 120 gram paper. Voids can also be found in just about any plywood, no matter where its made and just for the fun of it….........our own mfgs of pre-veneered plywood are starting to make the thickness of the veneer…....just a shade under “see right through it”..................having said that, perhaps the frequency of this happening tends to be greater on “off shore” plywoods.

The “real” Baltic Birch plywood has always been, still is, inconsistant in its thickness which can cause cursing if expensive hardware needs “consistany in thickness” to work “perfect”.

When I started in this trade/craft I remember local plywood having no more then one layer of veneer per 1/8” thickness of plywood. Sometimes it had 3 layers per 1/4”. The layers have gotten thicker…..sometimes each layer looks more like 1/4” and the specie has changed as well. They used throw Talipi overboard as “waste” on fishing boats but now its in every grocery store.

I am not a fan of “made in China” but not because it’s neccassarily cheap keeping in mind that close to 9 out of every appliance bought is made in China and I dont hear too many complain about their new fridge, but because they dont respect copy right laws, patents, human rights. I think every person should have the opportunity to have the same privilages that we have and sometimes take for granted, be it a car, fresh fruit, etc.,.............but blatant theft, disrespect for humanity….I dont like it.

yet the stores, big box stores, their parking lots are full of cars buying anything and everything and most of it isnt made on this side of the pond.

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

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5782 days

#6 posted 04-04-2008 02:34 AM

China is just drowning in bad press these days. I hope the Olympians decide to “brown bag” it.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View 's profile

593 posts in 5427 days

#7 posted 04-04-2008 03:54 AM

You get what you pay for…

Although am I the only who thinks that those posts that are starting to appear regularly here look like a bittersweet combination between the patriotic conspiracy theory, hoaxes and spam?

Don’t get me wrong and no offense here but the picture is a little too much sensationalist for my taste and adds nothing to the information itself.

Are there any reliable documented sources for this “according to somebody-without-a-name…” things? I’m not saying it ain’t true but it has all the elements of the good ole hoaxes like the rat’s nail in the burger and so on…

On the other hand, I privilege quality over price and tend to avoid anything way too cheap, coming it from China or no matter where else.

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5254 days

#8 posted 04-04-2008 04:12 AM

Roman, that might explain why my new fridge has a ghost in it along with the third fan motor in two years. I should’ve upended that thing and checked for the Made In China, You Foolish Imperialist Dog! label. Next time, I’ll know better and have to drop a couple of grand more for a Made Somewhere Else label. Go figure.


P.S. And as for the Maoist plywood, I will never knowingly buy anymore of that crap! It’s just too heartrending to work with.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 5351 days

#9 posted 04-04-2008 04:57 AM

The last time I used any of the Chinese plywood it was 3/4” birch from HD. I used up a lot of glue (and time) squirting it into the edges and clamping to re-laminate the sheet. Never again.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5543 days

#10 posted 04-04-2008 05:05 AM

I guess the wood guy from China that got on this site last year didn’t take what we told him to heart.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5624 days

#11 posted 04-04-2008 05:10 AM

Always good to be aware of potential problems.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5254 days

#12 posted 04-04-2008 05:22 AM

i avoid it like the plague. I prefer domestic, Canadian, and even Brazilian ply. I hear that if you buy a full palle tof the Canadian ply you get a winter hat and an empty Molson’s can with it.

-- making sawdust....

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5477 days

#13 posted 04-04-2008 05:31 AM

You can vote with your wallet girls.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 5226 days

#14 posted 04-04-2008 06:08 AM

Out of respect for the Owl Hardwoods employee’s privacy I did not include his name, and I don’t particulary care for the less than honest inference you have made. I would not waste my time posting this if I did not feel my coments were not honest or of value to the LJ community. And yes, so far you are the only one who brought up “patriotic conspiracy theory, hoaxes and spam”.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 5167 days

#15 posted 04-04-2008 07:53 AM

Chinese concerns aside, I’m grateful to hear about this Owl Hardwoods place. I too live in Naperville, and I’ll have to go check them out! Any other Naperville area places worth mentioning?

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

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