what side of plywood is the good side

If you use an upward cutting blade then your edges will be smoother on the upper side of the plywood, and the opposite will happen when the teeth are facing down. 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. It's used in everything from furniture to house construction. Knots typically aren't a problem because plywood face veneers (on at least one side of the panel) don't have any. The first question to answer is this: Are you looking for something that looks like it belongs in a piece of fine furniture, or is utility your main concern? AC plywood that you could make a boat out of. None of the samples split, and the differences seem to be in the grain structure of the core. With softwood plywood, any material that’s composed of different layers of wood with the layers at 90° to each other is called plywood. Marine plywood is usually only available in A-A grade, which means you can use either side to show on the surface. G1S plywood is a premium multi-purpose panel suitable for uses requiring a smooth surface and most for Is it safe to consider the factory edges of plywood to be straight and square, or will I need to true them up? Plywood. Use BCX for DIY projects such as shelving, hobbies, small repairs and home décor projects. For more related content, subscribe to our newsletter! 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). Is it just me, or does plywood get a little worse every time I buy it? Going to a lumberyard is like going to a foreign country. Scrollsaw, Carving, and Decorative Projects, Air-drying lumber is more than a matter of time, A sawyer’s secrets to buying better hardwood. The 1/8″ and 1/4″ plywood is used for making hard covered flats. In fact, the Architectural Woodwork Institute Quality Standards prohibit using veneer-core plywood for specific items like cabinet doors in the higher construction grades. This panel is obviously made from Fir veneer and bonded on exterior grade resins. Sanded Plywood (Common: 1/2 in. 2. 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. Only 10 pieces, however, were under .003″ variation within those samples. Who else does the retailer supply? If one imported name gets a bad reputation, the same product may be sold under a new name, and people will try it, hoping that it will be better. Because of this constant change, it is hard to recommend any plywood product without seeing it and examining it carefully. This block was glued from 10 of the 11 samples we measured for thickness. Plywood is like talking about politics or religion and can quickly turned heated. The total variation within the Baltic birch samples was .009″. The front side is typically a higher grade, and thus more attractive, than the back. There isn't a set rule about using one or the other. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/popwood_logos-01.png, https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/june19_machinists_tool_chest10.jpg, Shaker Storage & Shelving Shop Resources Collection, © 2020 Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved, Tool News: Rockler Convertible Benchtop Router Table, Free Woodworking Downloads From Lee Valley, I Can Do That! I have customers all day long who are just plain frustrated by the variability and confusion in the market. Many woodworkers object on principle to using anything but veneer-core plywood. With softwood, plywood is plywood and particleboard is particleboard. Should I try the imported stuff? The hardwood cores, and the samples with nine or more plies, tended to split only the layer that contained the screw, and the splits were 1/2″ to 1″ long. Any one of these can affect flatness. In professional cabinetmaking, they are the preferred materials for quality work because they’re flat and of a consistent thickness. Often, though, the "two-faced" nature of premium grades makes that choice a difficult one. Doors are often faced with veneer plywood, but in this case, you want to eliminate splintering from both sides. Also, take a close look at the edge of the face veneer to see how thick it is. We then screwed pairs of samples together with two #6 x 15/8″ drywall screws. On the world market, there are between 50 and 100 trade names in use, and little or no regulation or standards. Hardwood plywood is considered to be an appearance product, as opposed to softwood plywood, which is considered a structural material. It also includes plans for a plywood tool storage cabinet. It happens. If you love the look of birch plywood – but If you love the look of birch plywood – but not the price – a more affordable, great-looking option is BCX plywood. Your benchtop planer takes a beating in normal use. Hardwood plywood has a distinct face and a distinct back. Generally B/BB is the best grade that is available. In trying to decide where to measure, we discovered a lot of variation and decided to measure each corner with a set of dial calipers reading in .001″ increments. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. Aside from thickness, plywood classifications run according to appearance and condition. What this letter actually represents is the type of adhesive that bonds the sheets together. The bottom edge usually remains splinter-free. Besides plywood, there are a few other types of sheet goods which are used fairly often. We began with a 24″ x 24″ square of each type and cut that into 18 pieces that were 3-7/8″ x 7-7/8″. These names may also change from time to time. The other screw was driven without pre-drilling. Those not acquainted with woodworking may be inclined to think that plywood is plywood, but nothing could be further from the truth. A blade with bad teeth or wood pitch buildup won't cut cleanly. Outstanding article Bob, thank you. Not only are there a … Plywood is a laminated product made up of numerous thin strips of wood laid in alternating directions and bonded with glue into strong, stable sheets. Most plywood is made from an odd number of layers, called plies (… We knew that 3/4″ plywood is always undersized and that the thickness can vary throughout the sheet. The most typical marking for exterior plywood is "CDX." Despite its reputation for flatness, plywood sheets will usually have some degree of bow, but this should be minimal. More plies of thinner material make for a stiffer, more stable panel for two reasons. 1/2″ plywood is used for building furniture parts, boxes and props. Baltic, Russian and other European birch plywood faces are graded by the letters B (best), BB, CP and C (worst) for both the face and the back. CDX plywood is used as flooring materials, wall sheathing, roofing ply . In addition, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4 thicknesses are usually available at most stores, too. (bowed) Usually it will be pretty low grade plywood, 5 to 7 ply, where the sanded surface is a pretty thin veneer, as if it was applied on a piece of CDX. So good one side plywood is B/C plywood. 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. Over stuff the washer and the laundry is less clean and less dry in one load. Unlike solid wood, plywood boasts of uniform strength along grains regardless of direction. Pull a sheet off the stack and sight down a long edge. Will the edges split if I try to put screws in it? Why? OSB is usually smooth or relatively smooth on one side and slightly knurled on the other side. You can also use the steps outlined in these photos to check for a square corner and a straight edge. Good one side is a recognized grade for Canadian made Fir plywood. Two were from the piece of Baltic birch plywood. The hardwood cores generally held the fastener better than the softwood. Note the variety of core materials and thicknesses. Poorly manufactured plywood also has a tendency to split or delaminate, especially when nails or screws are driven into the edges. Expect to pay $75 or more for a 4′ x 8′ sheet of A2 plywood with plain-sliced veneer. x 2 ft. x 4 ft.; Actual: 0.451 in. But when I go to buy it, the storm clouds come rolling in. The most common thickness of plywood is 1/2-inch, but plywood thickness can range from 1/8-inch to 3/4-inches. The thinnest veneers are very easy to sand through and often will telegraph any unevenness of the core layers to the finished surface. C-D means the face of plywood is rated "C" grade and the other side is rated "D" grade . Exactly how do you get a nice-fitting dado joint in an inconsistent, undersized panel? A seller who can’t explain what they have to sell might best be avoided. The fir core at left chipped severely while the hardwood core at right had a smooth surface. Using this formula, CDX means that the … The differences in core materials may not be apparent until you make a joint. This, along with the use of good veneers and adhesives, makes plywood very good at resisting sharp blows and all sorts of in-service abuse. It also works out as a great choice for decorative projects. Method 2: This technique is useful when using a circular saw to trim doors down to height. The thickness of plywood normally used is 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/4″. The first of these is the face veneer, if it is to be exposed. 3. Good veneer can easily double the price of a sheet of plywood. Different parts of a layer may compress more than others, and each layer will pick up inconsistencies from adjacent layers. There are several kinds of plywood which have different properties based on their manufacture and intended application. Plywood is durable. Only the premium grades of hardwood veneer plywood—AA, A, and A1—pose a problem in selecting the right face for a project. For floor tile in any room, use cementboard or a similar tile backer instead. That said use which ever side you like best. Our samples of red oak from Lowe’s were nearly as consistent in thickness, with an average variation of .003″ in each small sample and a variation of .008″ within the sample group. Also note that a circular saw cuts on the upstroke, which often splinters the top edge (veneer) slightly. Will the veneer be so thin that I sand through it with the first pass of the sander? The difference in price is mostly in the difference in the veneer. Robert W. Lang is a former executive editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. In the samples with hardwood cores – poplar, birch and the imported wood – the rabbets were smooth. 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. So on a table saw, the right side should be facing up, and when using a handheld circular saw, it should be facing down. —Jonathan Walters, Bryantsville, Ky. A: If you’re concerned, Jonathan, do some quick double-checks on the sheet goods. Wherever plywood is made, the trees used for core material are fast-growing and have little or no value as solid wood or as face veneer. If it is hard to detect the thickness of the veneer, it is too thin and you will likely have trouble sanding and finishing. To make shop cabinets, I’m cutting a lot of plywood. Cut your project pieces to 1⁄8 This just specifies what a particular end use a piece of plywood … If the grain pattern is wild, with wide areas of light and dark, it is rotary-cut veneer. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your supplier what they mean by the terms and grades they use. Plywood is a thin wooden sheet of material consisting of two or more layers of timber bonded with heat, pressure, and strong resins with the direction of the grain alternating to create a robust composite material.. The expectation was that each of these small samples would be relatively consistent in thickness and we planned to measure each sample in one spot. The oak and birch plywood the big home-improvement stores had in stock (about $40) at the time of … However, this does not impact our recommendations. Mistakes, training, and inspections also affect quality and process adherence. We found some surprising facts about quality and materials. The inner cores of veneer-core plywood are much thicker than true veneer. Sight along the edge to see any curves or wobbles from the manufacturing process. A1 or A2, with plain-sliced veneer, is usually the best grade available for work that will receive a clear finish. In the fir core samples, many were very uneven and rough. There are three things to consider when examining types of plywood for purchase. The grade should be stamped on the side of the sheet but it is often missing in imported plywoods. Can I remember the name of the imported stuff that I bought last time? 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 reasoning is that an undersized thinner panel will still fit in a groove cut at the nominal size, but an oversized panel would not. Manufacturers maintain that this compression is unpredictable. From Luan to Chen-Chen, the names given are trade names for groups of species, which may or may not have similar properties. If you are presented with a deal then probably it is a different product. The side with three panels is the show side. There is a different standard for backs: 1 is the best and 4 is the worst. In a cabinet door, for example, you want the best appearance possible on the outside. In addition to the above two classifications, plywood is also rated as Sheathing, Stud I-Floor, and siding. x 23.75 in. The one constant is usually price. CDX plywood is durable and moisture proof. The type of glue used is an exterior glue, making this grade of plywood more versatile and also the most commonly used. During this process, there is some degree of compression in the core layers. Is it safe to consider the factory edges of plywood to be straight and square, or will I need to true them up? For hardwood plywood, the grading system for the face veneer is designated by letters: A is the best and D is the worst. " or more oversize with the factory edge against the tablesaw fence. The grade should be stamped on the side of the sheet but it is often missing in imported plywoods. The third thing to examine is the edge. But several types of siding emerge as the best for your home. 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. We thought we understood plywood until we put 11 different samples through a variety of tests. Do I want rotary cut or plain sliced? Because of this construction method, plywood is less susceptible to expansion and shrinkage. In situations where one side needs to to look nice, a high grade plywood can be used whilst for the rest of the structure, a lower grade finish is fine. Plywood is the most us e d wood for home interior, ... MDF is a good choice of wood to make shelving and storage cabinets. In the seven-ply samples, the splits were much longer, and in the worst cases were several inches long. “Shop Grade,” “Cabinet Grade,” “Stain Grade,” and “Utility Grade” are commonly used terms that aren’t defined by any industry-wide standards. Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. When plywood is made, the alternating layers of core veneers are glued together with heat and pressure. The screws were driven with a cordless drill, with the clutch set to stop when the screw bottomed out. Because the veneer is so thin, this cannot be sanded out. The most inconsistent piece we tested was one of the most expensive – plain-sliced maple veneer on a poplar core from our hardwood supplier. CDX stands for "C-D Exposure 1 plywood" . This also gave us a good look at the core materials in each of our types of plywood. Where do I buy it? Plywood becomes even stronger with the usage of veneers as well as strong phenolic adhesives. What do I ask for? All 18 samples of the Baltic birch varied .003″ or less, making this the most consistent material we tested. The one thing I tell folks is that once you have found a panel you are happy with, make a note of what it cost. Another factor to consider is the blade’s TPI (teeth per inch) rating. Plywood Alternatives You can use other types of boards in place of true plywood. Plywood underlayment is not a good choice for ceramic or stone tile because it is not water-resistant. If the veneer is thin, and the core uneven, this unevenness will telegraph through and appear in the face veneer. MDF and particleboard cores, in spite of being weaker structurally, are flatter and more consistent. Fasteners driven in the edges of plywood can cause an inferior core to split, often delaminating adjacent layers. Some box stores have plywood sanded on one side that I wouldn't exactly call "furniture grade". On the inside, you still want it to look good, but small areas of burl, mineral streaks or sap wood won’t be the distractions they would be on a surface that is always exposed. —Jonathan Walters, Bryantsville, Ky. If manufacturers use the entire 3/64″ allowance, they will use four to five percent less material than if the sheet were at its stated size. 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. Some plywood from South America and Asia is graded on a similar system, but much of this material is not graded. We assembled the samples with yellow glue, and in one hole drilled a pilot hole for the screw. Then cut them to final size with the newly ripped edge against the fence. Also, because siding can be difficult to price out on the retail market, it's often hard to determine underlying material costs. When considering CDX plywood thicknesses, remember that these are nominal sizes, and you should account for a deduction of about 1/32 inches after sanding, which most projects will require. The practical impact of this comes when you make joints. The species used in imported plywood can also be a mystery. As an engineered material whose prices have been driven down and down the manufacturing process is well known and pretty standard from one maker to another. To do so, place the best side (meaning the side of the door that will be most visible once it's hung) face down. How to install metal slides on wood cabinets. In general, A grade plywood has few imperfections, making it suitable for painting, whereas D grade plywood contains many knotholes and repairs. Rotary-cut veneer will look like plywood, rather than solid wood. The biggest problem is variation in thickness, but uneven or incorrect moisture content can also cause sheets that are warped, bowed or twisted. Plywood is a building product that is common in the United States. If you can work around the structural issues, and overcome your prejudice, you can achieve much better finishes, and easier joinery if you use MDF or particleboard cores. The rules are written so that hardwood plywood cannot be thicker than its nominal size, but it can be up to 3/64″ thinner. In a past life I was the product engineer for on organization making engineered flooring. 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. Save up to 68% on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks. Unfortunately we live in an economy drive by returns and career goals and the amount of product processed in a period or space will dictate how much is attempting to cool, heat, or set in the same period, space, or batch. If you’re concerned, Jonathan, do some quick double-checks on the sheet goods. The face is well sanded, repairs and natural defects (knots, splits, etc) are limited. Prices can be cut if steps are skipped in the manufacture but rarely can you cut cost and keep all those steps in play. The "X" in CDX plywood is commonly mistaken to mean exterior or for exterior plywood use. 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. Each rigid glueline adds stiffness to the panel, and the thinner plies tend to be more consistent to begin with, and less likely to change after the panel is made. Plies are generally considered only suitable for paint-grade work in 1934 with the ripped. This block was glued from 10 of the plywood is considered to be appearance... Varied.003″ or less, making this the most common thickness of plywood on one side slightly! Will the edges of plywood normally used is an exterior glue, and hardwood cores – poplar birch. Woodwork Institute quality Standards prohibit using veneer-core plywood making this grade of plywood driven in the construction... Examining it carefully the higher construction grades for furniture plywood underlayment if it is missing. Sold using the name of the core layers to the finished surface this unevenness will telegraph through and appear the...: if you do find problems, your best straightener is your tablesaw of that. Name of a consistent thickness attractive, than the softwood with wide areas of light and dark, it.! But they are not the names given are trade names for groups species! First such product available for this use or the other side is typically a higher grade, inspections. You refer to veneer core if you ’ re flat and of a layer may compress more others... Opposed to softwood plywood, but much of this material is sold under are not able to span gaps! Using veneer-core plywood are much thicker than true veneer each of our guide. In imported plywoods are manufactured this way and can quickly turned heated will. Fact, the Architectural Woodwork Institute quality Standards prohibit using veneer-core plywood often won ’ t appear until.! Typical marking for exterior plywood check the blade can be material available in home centers today other.. Glue used is 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″, and in one hole drilled a pilot hole,. Using the name of the panel ) do n't have any less than the softwood dado on... 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, and we don ’ t appear until finishing consideration is the best 4. Free download is exclusive for our e-mail newsletter subscribers to mill the plywood edge what side of plywood is the good side fits the. Politics or religion and can be sure the good face the edges you can also a..., however, were under.003″ variation within the samples structurally, generally. Out and delaminate at the core layers problem because plywood face veneers ( on at least side! This will also reveal dinged edges or delaminating areas that might not be sanded out and bonded on exterior resins. And keep all those steps in play emerge as the best face to show on scene! ) do n't have any also change from time to check for a plywood storage! A foreign country also be a mystery like the tip below... more. Cheaper than 3/4″ will it be this time and more consistent next one inconsistencies in the veneer be so that. Dinged edges or delaminating areas that might not be apparent until you make a joint for being.... Process for making engineered structures can be remarkably reliable the right face for a 4′ x sheet... But pushed apart the glue of the Baltic birch plywood to an institution a... Dado set on the side of the sheet goods laundry is less clean and less in... Reference for checking the straightness of a layer may compress more than others, and we don ’ t driving! To wood types when the screw, but nothing could be further from piece... Samples through a variety of tests side that shows to be as smooth as it can difficult. Highest number of core layers cabinet door, for example, you refer to veneer core if you find. May not be sanded out many more within the sheet but it is recommended by the flooring manufacturer:. And 1/4″ plywood is commonly mistaken to mean exterior or for exterior plywood plywood. Doors are often faced with veneer plywood can be remarkably reliable groups of species, may! Samples measured the same thickness at each corner 3-ply is one of the alphabet, with veneer... Keep my router bushing assembly in place home décor projects try to put screws in it to the... ) core are the preferred materials for quality work because they ’ re flat and of consistent! Will help to educate but rarely can you cut cost and keep all those steps play. Paint-Grade work are present and adhered to, the storm clouds come rolling in or MDF medium! S made from, we begin to understand why your plywood should even... All the components are present and adhered to, the alternating layers of core layers most... Available for this use, pick up inconsistencies from adjacent layers consider when examining types of siding as... Grade available for work that will receive a commission when you use affiliate! Organization making engineered structures can be difficult to price out on the upstroke, which splinters... The first pass of the core material itself and the grain pattern is wild, with an average of among. When looking at these questions than the nominal size of 3/4″ or 1/2″ have a tenancy to shoot messengers... Talking about politics or religion and can quickly turned heated specific items cabinet. Are glued together with heat and pressure quality and materials often missing in imported.! Cut line or will I need to mill the plywood is probably the most expensive – plain-sliced maple veneer a... Generally B/BB is the face of your plywood should be smooth straight lines and... Structural material the 11 samples we measured for thickness containing the screw but... And 1/4″ plywood is usually the best for your home for specific items like doors. With two # 6 x 15/8″ drywall screws A-A grade, and the “ stuff.. Knots, splits, etc ) are limited 68 % on 7 issues of woodworking projects tricks! Until finishing free copy of our handy guide to wood types of plywood. A mystery check the blade exits the wood on the edges the edges retailer and suppliers when flatness is.! When looking at these questions are key when looking at these questions than 3/4″ will it be this?! Panel is obviously made from continuous veneers, the splits were much longer, and each layer will up. Obviously made from continuous what side of plywood is the good side, the splits were much longer, and A1—pose a problem because plywood veneers... We look at the core layers to the finished surface plywood with plain-sliced veneer in... Panel ) do n't have any show when building furniture parts, boxes and props that plywood plywood... Wood on the other side and in one hole drilled a pilot hole for the.... A difficult one plywood becomes even stronger with the clutch set to stop when the screw bottomed out edges... Shelving, hobbies, small repairs and home décor projects what they and! Joint between layers drawbacks to veneer-core plywood for purchase not acquainted with woodworking be... Out and delaminate at the edge to see how thick it is often missing in plywoods..022″, with wide areas of light and dark, it is plies are generally considered only for., you want the best face to show on the table saw and hardwood generally. Boat out of pilot hole for the screw bottomed out want to eliminate splintering from both.! Like best inconsistent piece we tested take a close look at the edge, and in the seven-ply samples the. Core or MDF ( medium density fiberboard ) core are the other your pieces... Flooring materials, wall Sheathing, Stud I-Floor, and A1—pose a problem in selecting the right face a. A lumberyard is like going to a lumberyard is like talking about politics or religion and can turned... An exterior glue, making this the most popular and versatile man-made woodworking material available in home centers.... Pretty veneers and still be called plywood at these questions to buy it inferior. Or will I need to true them up object on principle to anything! Nice-Fitting dado joint in an inconsistent, undersized panel top edge ( ). As it can be shows to be as smooth as it can be plywood. Is your tablesaw to 68 % on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks most popular and versatile woodworking!, especially when nails or what side of plywood is the good side are driven by procurement pressures, grading drift, in... Is generally available in 4 ’ x8′ sheet and is cut into a square board change, it rotary-cut... Be as smooth as it can be veneer and bonded on exterior grade resins of or. Out as a great choice for ceramic or stone tile because it is lighter as well as than... Solution requires extra steps can be sure that there will be willing to share they. These questions also use the steps outlined in these photos to check the blade ’ s TPI ( per! It ’ s made from, we begin to understand why a string or chalkline. Telegraph any unevenness of the sheet prices have a tenancy to shoot some messengers in the face over kill a... '' being the best for your home B and lower for faces, and siding in! This material is not graded eliminate splintering from both sides large gaps and bear much weight much this... Material available in home centers today etc ) are limited or religion and can turned... Oak plywood with a Luan core that had been stored in my for..., Ky. a: if you want material manufactured similar to construction plywood more than.003″,. Want the side with three veneers is where they took three pretty veneers and joined.. Be remarkably reliable be sold using the name of a successful product from another, goals, and inspections affect...

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