BORG plywood question - or What should I look for?

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Forum topic by toddbg posted 12-23-2013 05:58 PM 3211 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View toddbg's profile


34 posts in 2629 days

12-23-2013 05:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plywood

I’m new to woodworking and my plan is to start on the garage workshop then move into the house slowly working on less visible to most visible pieces as I build skills.

I have been buying plywood from Home Depot – but sticking to the better grades.

Recently to start on workbench upper shelves and drawers I picked up some sanded Maple Ply from HD for about $40. It looks pretty good on the faces and is pretty stiff and heavy.

However, I am having an issue.
I was putting together the drawers and attempting to do pocket screws using my Kreg I picked up.
When I was screwing in the screws kept spinning and pulling out. I was using the Kreg screw appropriate for plywood so I am not sure what is up.

I also tried screwing my side pieces in and I was having the same issue on some pieces. (here I was using Spax 1.25” screws)

Why would this be happening?
What can I do about it?
If I should buy different ply – where should I get it from and what is a decent price to be looking at?


-- -- Todd, Washington

13 replies so far

View dbray45's profile


3405 posts in 3789 days

#1 posted 12-23-2013 06:15 PM

With plywood, I use a lock mitre joint and glue it for drawers. For sides, I dado a groove in the sides to fit the back panel into. Once the dadoes are cut, I drill the center of the dado and countersink the outside of the side panel. Apply glue to the inside of the dado, insert the the back panel, clamp it and screw it – for 3/4” ply, I use 1 1/2” #8 wood screws – usually spax screws. The only issue with spax screws is that you have to do them by hand. They go in fast and hold well.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3576 days

#2 posted 12-23-2013 06:15 PM

Are you going into end grain? if so you could be forcing the plys apart and the separation doesn’t allow for the screws to hold any more.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View toddbg's profile


34 posts in 2629 days

#3 posted 12-23-2013 06:43 PM

@David – thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I was just running a bead of glue and then screwing them straight in with my driver.

@Chubbs – do you mean going into any edge? if so then yes, all of my joints are edge to face.

-- -- Todd, Washington

View pintodeluxe's profile


6318 posts in 3825 days

#4 posted 12-23-2013 06:52 PM

Hmm this is interesting. I have not had this particular issue with pocket screws in plywood. If you can orient the screws at an angle that helps (to avoid driving screws into the end grain of plywood). If you used a Kreg jig, then you already did that.

Setting the clutch on your cordless drill to a lower setting can help.

Overall, I have not been happy with the plywood quality from home centers. I like specialized building centers that offer a better selection of hardwood plywood. They typically have better choices in species and offer options for one sided or two sided select veneer.

Good luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View dbray45's profile


3405 posts in 3789 days

#5 posted 12-23-2013 07:38 PM

If you put the pocket screws in the back panel → into the side panels, this should work well. THe secret is to tighten but not over tighten.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3983 days

#6 posted 12-24-2013 04:14 AM

From time to time they have a plywood product at Home Depot that they refer to as SandPly.
The stuff is made in South America and has A-C graded surfaces and water proof glue.
I try to get 2 or 3 sheets of this when ever they have it on sale for ~ $29 to $34 a sheet, 3/4” nominal thickness.
I think the thickness is actually 23/32” or some such.
Main thing I like about this stuff is the fact that I hardly ever find a void in the inside plies and it has 7 layers.
Not as good as Baltic Birch or Apple Ply for sure, but not bad for the price.

Are you having problems with 3/4” (nominal) material?
How many plies does it have?

I haven’t found a product at a home center lumberyard in the thinner sheets I would waste my time on.
Cept maybe MDF.

View toddbg's profile


34 posts in 2629 days

#7 posted 12-25-2013 09:57 PM

@willie – are specialized building centers local or are there any chains to look for. (not sure what to look for to find them around here).

@david – I had not thought about that. In the past I’ve just driven the screws in till they are flush (or a little countersunk) and tight.

@michael – I’ll keep an eye out for that. I’ve heard of the Baltic Birch (the speaker manufacturer I used to work for used it on most of their cabinets) but I am not sure where to purchase it around here. A local lumberyard mentioned AC exterior plywood that they get in and peoiple have been using it for underlayment. (wonder if it is the same stuff you mentioned…)

-- -- Todd, Washington

View brtech's profile


1102 posts in 3935 days

#8 posted 12-26-2013 02:20 AM

It’s “Sandeply”. Looked at the reviews on HD’s site. Most of them say that the face layer is too thin, and splinters when cut. Some did have void issues. Some had problems painting it. Still, it looks interesting enough to try it if I see it on sale. The normal price is $45/sheet.

View BArnold's profile


175 posts in 2845 days

#9 posted 12-26-2013 02:35 AM

Most of the plywood I’ve used for shop drawers is 1/2” HD SandePly. Never had a problem with it. I use a lock rabbet joint front and back. For cabinet carcases in the shop, I mostly use 3/4” MDF. I like the SandePly because it’s fairly clear with few voids. For “real” furniture, I use birch or maple ply for drawers unless a particular application calls for solid wood drawer boxes.

-- Bill, Thomasville, GA

View pintodeluxe's profile


6318 posts in 3825 days

#10 posted 12-26-2013 03:17 AM

We are in the Portland market, and have Mr. plywood and Shur-way building centers. If I am really in a pinch, I will buy premium plywood at Crosscut Hardwoods, but they are a bit more expensive.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Blackbear's profile


137 posts in 3231 days

#11 posted 12-26-2013 12:59 PM

The ply is cheap at the box stores for a reason; only five ply with voids. I used some for a few shop projects but would buy better ply for inside the house.

View jonah's profile


2136 posts in 4311 days

#12 posted 12-26-2013 01:30 PM

I’d never use plywood from the big boxes for anything outside of the shop, and honestly, I avoid it even in shop stuff.

At a local plywood place, I can get a sheet of higher quality plywood for a little more than the cheap stuff at the big box, or I can get quality baltic birch ply for a little more than that. They also deliver, they have salespeople that actually know what the heck they’re talking about, and their selection is way better. There’s no downside.

As for finding a quality lumberyard: start by asking the oldest, most experienced-looking guy at a local hardware store. Ask them where you can get quality plywood and hardwood lumber. It might be at the same place, or they might give you a few options. Tell them you want a place that’ll help hobbyists and not just ignore them – some building supply/lumberyards cater to pros and ignore hobbyists completely.

If the hardware store people aren’t helpful or don’t know, start searching on the internet for “lumberyard”, “building supplies”, “hardwood lumber”, and such things. You’ll likely find some reviews (assuming you live somewhat close to a city) of different places. Also, people here can recommend places if there’s someone who lives near you on here.

View AlanBienlein's profile


159 posts in 3686 days

#13 posted 12-26-2013 01:49 PM

There is nothing wrong with the maple and oak plywood at the home centers. We just recently recieved delivery of some 3/4” A-1 grade oak plywood from the so called better lumberyard and returned it due to all the splits in the A-1 face veneer. We sent it back and went down the street to Home Depot and picked up their 3/4” oak ply that was way better looking and less expensive than the so called better lumber yard.

As for the screws stripping out we have that problem also even in solid wood. Most of the time it’s because the depth of the pocket hole is incorrect for the fastener. Are you using the fine or the course screws as it does make a difference. You should be using the coarse screws in soft wood and plywood.

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