Plywood: Types and Uses

Using plywood in a wood shop

Plywood is a type of manufactured lumber made from sheets of thin wood veneer. It is a widely used wood products, inexpensive, recyclable, flexible, workable, and can often locally manufactured.


Types of Plywood

There are many different types of wood-based man-made materials on the market. Each has its own purpose, drawbacks, and benefits. When most people hear the term plywood, they think of CDX (or whatever...) which is used to build houses. Yet in the wholesale wood products industry, plywood is a generic term for any sheet product regardless of construction (for example; MDF, VC, CDX.) The two terms are interchangeable, more-or-less.


Knowing Plywood Grades

There are five main plywood grades. These grades describe the appearance and plywood strength. A lower grade can mean that the plywood does not resist punctures or hold nails very well. This can lead to an easier time cutting the plywood. The higher grades, however, are fairly strong. Each panel consists of various layers of veneer. Plywood is similar to chipboard, in that adhesives and pressure are used to form the board. Its strength can be increased if the veneers are placed opposite grained. This will not only cause it to be stronger over all, but also prevent cutting the plywood through if it is used as a work table.


Qualities of OSD and CDX Plywood


OSD and CDX plywood are both commonly found on construction sites, because builders and contractors rely on both types of plywood to get the job done. Each of these materials has its own unique properties and qualities, and so each is used in specific applications.

Depending on where you are planning to use each sheet of plywood, you will likely end up using both types of plywood if you are planning to build a new home. You may also require both types if you are planning a new addition, especially if that addition has both floors and exterior walls.


Plywood Grading - Types of Plywood


When buying plywood from your local Home Depot, Rona, Lowe's or other wood supplier, you might have noticed that all the plywood is "graded". The most common plywood grading scheme is from A to D, with A being the highest quality with zero blemishes and great sanding, and D being the worst with the greatest number of blemishes (allowed).


PLYWOOD - The Good, the Bad the Alternative

I spend good money buying what I am assured is 'good quality plywood', so why, when I get it home, does it make me want to turn it into firewood?. That was the hard hitting comment from an associate of mine recently. So, lets talk about plywood and why it is the way it is, how can we best use it and what are some alternatives. First of all there are two kinds of plywood, "sliced" and "rotary". These terms are used when talking about the face of the plywood. So if you were to purchase a three-quarter inch 4x8 sheet of "Oak Plywood", you would have the choice of purchasing either "sliced" or "rotary".


Russian Birch Plywood


Russian Birch plywood is not very well known here in the USA yet, however it is rapidly making a very good name for itself. It is becoming desirable because it has multiple plies of birch veneer that gives superior strength and a very low void count. Because the product is so tight, you can actually expose the edges and for certain shop items it is an appealing look. One of the beauties of the Russian birch lines is that all the layers are actually birch, whereas typical plywood can have layers of pine or other woods mixed in. Because of this, the material has some excellent machining properties and does particularly well on CNC machines.


Choose the Right Plywood


There are few things a woodworker will ever face that are as confusing as plywood. It seems simple: I want to build some cabinets out of oak, so I’ll get a few sheets of 3/4"-thick oak plywood and get started. But when I go to buy it, the storm clouds come rolling in, you just have to choose the right type of plywood.


18' One Sheet Plywood Canoe

The prospect of building a one sheet kayak, as presented in the original Prism section, has aroused some interest. The original "maximum volume" kayak Prism would not be suitable for a kayaking beginner, however, unless he or she was equipped with excellent balancing abilities. This design is an attempt to overcome the balancing difficulties inherent in the original "maximum volume" design. The design has been modified, using the righting moment calculator from the Stability section as an aid, to give an acceptable compromise between stability, volume and looks.


Plywood Coffee Table

When I needed some furniture, I decided to build a set out of 3/4" birch veneer plywood. To make the furniture easy to assemble without any fasteners, I designed each component piece with slots that mate with one another and hold the whole piece together. Not having fasteners makes the furniture easy to pack up and transport. Finally, each piece is cut exactly from a half sheet of plywood to avoid waste.


How To Install Plywood Edging

Tips for installing oak and hardwood edgings for plywood. We'll show you how to add solid wood nosing to plywood shelves, bookcases and cabinets to cover up the ugly edge that plywood leaves. Applying the nosing will give your projects an attractive, finished edge. This article covers everything a DIYer needs to know to install the nosing.



Bending Plywood


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