Furniture Grade Oak Plywood Appears Wavy

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Forum topic by Martini1 posted 12-14-2018 06:35 PM 661 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 675 days

12-14-2018 06:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing sanding

I am currently building a bookshelf I intend to stain using furniture grade oak plywood. After sanding it there is a subtle wavy look to it. I have noticed this in birch plywood I have used in the past for drawers, but it did not matter for that application. I fear the stain is going to accentuate it. I plan to stain a test piece but I am trying to figure out if this is normal. I know people use plywood all the time in furniture that is stained. Is this just bad plywood? Or is this normal and not too noticeable after stain?

5 replies so far

View Rich's profile


5725 posts in 1400 days

#1 posted 12-14-2018 08:31 PM

I’m not sure what you mean by wavy. A photo would help. The first thing that comes to mind is that most plywood veneers are rotary cut. Like you’d get unrolling a roll of paper. The grain pattern it produces is unlike other higher grade veneers that are sawn like lumber, that is flat or quarter, and is generally considered paint grade and not ideal for staining.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Bill White

5296 posts in 4771 days

#2 posted 12-14-2018 08:44 PM

Where are ya buying the plywood? Some is CRAP. I try to buy from a cabinet shop when building quality items.

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View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1627 days

#3 posted 12-14-2018 11:37 PM

I have seen the same thing many times with furniture grade oak plywood. I don’t think it is necessarily the quality, although it could be. I agree with Rich that it is most likely the way the veneer is cut that causes the problem. Growth rings are composed of harder and softer wood. This produces the characteristic “cathedral grain” in oak plywood. When you hand sand the material, it accentuates the problem.

View John_'s profile


251 posts in 2517 days

#4 posted 12-16-2018 03:08 AM

Here is an example that I ran into recently

I was building a small, paint grade, ‘play table’ for the grandkids. For paint grade sheet goods, I like to use MDO and edge it with Poplar. In this pic you can see where I sanded the top (Bosch 1/2 sheet sander) and you can see some ‘waves’ in the surface. The darker brown color is the original color of MDO – and you can see where it is untouched in several strips that run from side to side across the width of the table. The redish brown color is where I sanded through the outer layer

View Redoak49's profile


4813 posts in 2799 days

#5 posted 12-16-2018 12:33 PM

I do not buy plywood from the big box stores as they put it on racks with arms. This gives it a wave that you can not get out.

I buy most of mine from Menards which stores them flat.

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