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Use of plywood in furniture?

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Forum topic by lblankenship posted 11-04-2019 10:37 AM 1109 views 0 times favorited 57 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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lblankenship

49 posts in 836 days


11-04-2019 10:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plywood solid wood furniture wood style question

Hey guys,

I just had a quick question that I wanted to get your opinions on. What do you think about using plywood in furniture? I see a lot of guys online that will build credenzas, side tables and a few other things with veneered ply and edge band it with solid wood.

I know plywood can be more stable and less labor intensive to mill but also less durable than solid wood.

Is it crazy to say, anytime I make a piece that has some sort of box/carcass that it’s made of veneered ply with hardwood edging? Then the base, doors and drawer fronts would be solid wood?

The more I look around the more it seems like solid wood is mainly used for table tops, legs, aprons, doors, drawer boxes/fronts. But not so much for the main carcass.

Thanks in advance!


57 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5836 posts in 3055 days


#1 posted 11-04-2019 11:23 AM

I actually prefer plywood if the piece isn’t going to be some kind of authentic reproduction, or a genuine heirloom. In addition to the advantages you mention, it’s also solves some concerns with wood movement. That said, I rarely use edge banded plywood, it’s almost always buried in hardwood somehow. I also always use good quality cabinet grade ply that has the wood and grain structure of the hardwood in the piece. But that’s just me, and a lot of folks scream “foul” if you use plywood. One thing I noticed is that the plywood can often cost more on a board foot basis than the hardwood.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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shipwright

8412 posts in 3360 days


#2 posted 11-04-2019 03:59 PM

+1 what Fred said.
I use plywood because I do my own veneering / marquetry and plywood is the most stable substrate.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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BurlyBob

6770 posts in 2827 days


#3 posted 11-04-2019 04:07 PM

Yup, what they said!

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Bill_Steele

603 posts in 2293 days


#4 posted 11-04-2019 04:35 PM

Within the last year, I’ve started exploring making my own shop sawn veneer and vacuum pressing it to plywood or MDF and using that in projects where appropriate. I like this approach because I feel like a panel with an MDF or plywood core will expand/contract very little (if any) seasonally, is less expensive (for me) than buying hardwood or even hardwood plywood, and the thick (~1/16” to 3/32”) veneer can be sanded or refinished (in the future) without worry of sanding through the veneer.

I feel that using plywood or MDF based panels gives me more options with regard to design because I don’t need to focus so much on accommodating seasonal changes in dimension.

I still use solid wood for many projects/parts (e.g. top, legs, aprons, drawer parts, rails, stiles, stretchers, and narrow parts that are visible).

I don’t feel as though the quality of the piece is marginalized by not using all solid wood.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5436 posts in 2871 days


#5 posted 11-04-2019 05:09 PM

Half the fun is the milling process. I think a cherry chest of drawers of solid wood look much better that commercial bought plywood.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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lblankenship

49 posts in 836 days


#6 posted 11-04-2019 06:27 PM

Thanks guys! I’ve always had the thought that not using all solid wood was kind of “cheating” or “cheap” in the back of my mind. Even though I know high quality plywood is anything but cheap, ha.

However, I wasn’t sure if I was just being too strict on what is considered quality custom furniture. I’m glad to see that I’m probably just too strict and that custom pieces with plywood can still have a high quality and value.

I should mention too that my intent is to sell custom furniture pieces whether that is for a specific client or having a product line that is made to order. So I’m all for using plywood where it makes sense if it will help cut down on labor and increase my turn around time. Again, I just wasnt sure what the overall perception of plywood in custom furniture was.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5783 posts in 3805 days


#7 posted 11-04-2019 07:06 PM

Using plywood is certainly a time saver. If solid wood was used for large panels, you would have to make a larger panel from smaller pieces of wood. This would require jointing, planing and sanding all of which would not be necessary with plywood. On kitchen cabinets, you wouldn’t want to use a nice hardwood for a surface that would be hidden. You also wouldn’t want to use hardwood and then paint over it. Cost is also a consideration.

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wildwoodbybrianjohns

539 posts in 109 days


#8 posted 11-04-2019 07:32 PM

Youve heard from a few experts here, I would only add that marine-grade ply is very nice to work with. Sure, it is costly, but youve got great density with more layers per thickness, no voids, and two good faces that take stain well.

If I were doing custom cabs for a client I would go with marine ply first, and only downgrade if cost were an issue.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

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splintergroup

3064 posts in 1784 days


#9 posted 11-04-2019 07:46 PM

One of the reasons I like plywood (though never banded) is I can find or press my own veneered wood that has more spectacular grain/color or maintains an even color tone of a project throughout. This is much like when one attempts to make a project with boards from the same tree to achieve the same effect.

There is a reason most highly figured wood gets cut up into veneer.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5436 posts in 2871 days


#10 posted 11-04-2019 09:18 PM

One disclaimer. I consider kitchen cabinet as furniture

The picture below is what I call furniture. I just image making it out of plywood.

Go to are very own “Furniture Maker’s Forum” and see how little plywood is used in furniture our resident furniture experts are using in furniture.

A couple more links of furniture building.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDKsKT3F74hS3kv1SstybGw

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjatELwdjLj3_03Q80iTc_g

Just saying I view furniture and cabinet differently and the OP did say furniture.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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tomsteve

983 posts in 1781 days


#11 posted 11-04-2019 09:23 PM

FYI, OSB furniture is a thing now

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5436 posts in 2871 days


#12 posted 11-04-2019 09:48 PM



FYI, OSB furniture is a thing now

- tomsteve

Each to their own. I just gave my opinion. I find OBS furniture very none appealing and wondering how many neighbors I’d have to have come over if I want to move it. It that’s you style buy a whole houseful.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View lblankenship's profile

lblankenship

49 posts in 836 days


#13 posted 11-04-2019 09:52 PM



Using plywood is certainly a time saver. If solid wood was used for large panels, you would have to make a larger panel from smaller pieces of wood. This would require jointing, planing and sanding all of which would not be necessary with plywood.
- MrRon

My thoughts exactly.


One of the reasons I like plywood (though never banded) is I can find or press my own veneered wood that has more spectacular grain/color or maintains an even color tone of a project throughout.

- splintergroup

How do you make your own veneers? Do you rip them on the band saw, joint both edges then glue them down individually to the ply/mdf? Do you still run the risk of expansion/contraction if your veneer is thicker (1/16” – 1/8”)?


One disclaimer. I consider kitchen cabinet as furniture

The picture below is what I call furniture. I just image making it out of plywood.

Go to are very own “Furniture Maker s Forum” and see how little plywood is used in furniture our resident furniture experts are using in furniture.

A couple more links of furniture building.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDKsKT3F74hS3kv1SstybGw

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjatELwdjLj3_03Q80iTc_g

Just saying I view furniture and cabinet differently and the OP did say furniture.

- AlaskaGuy

These would be pieces I agree make sense to be all solid wood. I’m not against using solid wood entirely but more so finding a way to incorporate plywood where it makes sense to save on labor and also deliver a product within a certain price range. I could always offer the same piece in solid wood at a much higher price due to the increased time and skill necessary.

Thanks for the links, I’ll be sure to check those out.

This is more along the lines of what I’m thinking of. He builds the main carcass out of ply but does the base and fronts with hardwood.

https://youtu.be/tFy9Qze8nY4

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5436 posts in 2871 days


#14 posted 11-04-2019 10:06 PM

Using plywood is certainly a time saver. If solid wood was used for large panels, you would have to make a larger panel from smaller pieces of wood. This would require jointing, planing and sanding all of which would not be necessary with plywood.
- MrRon

My thoughts exactly.

One of the reasons I like plywood (though never banded) is I can find or press my own veneered wood that has more spectacular grain/color or maintains an even color tone of a project throughout.

- splintergroup

How do you make your own veneers? Do you rip them on the band saw, joint both edges then glue them down individually to the ply/mdf? Do you still run the risk of expansion/contraction if your veneer is thicker (1/16” – 1/8”)?

One disclaimer. I consider kitchen cabinet as furniture

The picture below is what I call furniture. I just image making it out of plywood.

Go to are very own “Furniture Maker s Forum” and see how little plywood is used in furniture our resident furniture experts are using in furniture.

A couple more links of furniture building.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDKsKT3F74hS3kv1SstybGw

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjatELwdjLj3_03Q80iTc_g

Just saying I view furniture and cabinet differently and the OP did say furniture.

- AlaskaGuy

These would be pieces I agree make sense to be all solid wood. I m not against using solid wood entirely but more so finding a way to incorporate plywood where it makes sense to save on labor and also deliver a product within a certain price range. I could always offer the same piece in solid wood at a much higher price due to the increased time and skill necessary.

Thanks for the links, I ll be sure to check those out.

This is more along the lines of what I m thinking of. He builds the main carcass out of ply but does the base and fronts with hardwood.

https://youtu.be/tFy9Qze8nY4

- lblankenship


Good for you. Not my cup of tea. That’s all I’m saying. And, I’m not saying there no place for sheet good at all. You take a large Conference table 20 feet long. I’ve seen some very attractive table made with sheet good and veneer.

Lol, I figured my ”Personal opinion” on furniture making would NOT go unchallenged. :):):)

The OP ask What do you think about using plywood in furniture? I gave him my opinion and I don’t apologize that.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Sark's profile

Sark

223 posts in 922 days


#15 posted 11-04-2019 10:15 PM

My choice depends on the design, budget and piece. Sometimes working in solid wood is just easier because you don’t need to worry about hiding ugly edges as much. All the desks I’ve built have had plywood tops and the rest is solid wood. Smaller pieces, such as bedside cabinet, is solid. Entertainment centers for customers, plywood with wood edging & trim. My own entertainment center, solid wood.

Chairs, forget about it. I’ve never made a chair. Cabinets— plywood carcass, and generally solid wood doors and trim. I love marine plywood, but never used it in furniture. Makes great outdoor cabinets. And is true 3/4” dimension.

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