Plywood for Fine Furniture
In these tough economic times, it’s tempting to skimp on solid wood and opt for plywood to save a few pennies. What do you think? Are you a solid-wood purist? If not, how do you use plywood in your furniture?
Take our poll, check out our list of tips for working with plywood, and then weigh in with a comment below. Do you have any other tips for working with this flat and stable material?
Veneered plywood works well in built-ins, panels, or even large tabletops since it doesn’t fall prey to wood movement in the way that solid panels do. And, plywood covered with nice hardwood veneer and some solid-wood edging gives it the feel of a solid-wood piece.
For instance, Mark Edmundson created this freestanding cabinet to take advantage of the benefits of plywood. Namely, that many of the “best logs are scooped up by veneer mills” and he wanted to use them for his work.
Mario Rodriguez, in 6 Ways to Edge Plywood, even ranks plywood innovations right up there next to the invention of the tablesaw.
If and when you incorporate this handy material into your work, below are some helpful tips.
- Dadoes and biscuits are good joints for plywood
- Hide unattractive edges with edge banding or face frames
- Iron-on veneer tape works for protected surfaces
- Apply solid-wood edge banding in high-wear areas
- Be careful trimming edging to avoid damaging the veneer
- Avoid the standard 3/4-in. plywood look by creating thicker, custom panels. Just glue two 1/4-in. plywood to a core of MDF.
- Use caution breaking down large sheets on the tablesaw. Get a helper if you can for your first cuts.
- Or cut roughly to size with a circular saw and then make finish cuts on the tablesaw
- If pieces are too large for the tablesaw, make finishing cuts with a router with an edge guide
- Avoid tearout by scoring the cut or covering it with tape
- A zero-clearance throat plate also helps to reduce tearout
- Use a triple-chip blade with a high tooth count for ripping and crosscutting
- Delivery pays: Let the supplier deliver hardwood-veneer plywood to reduce the risk of damage in transit
|More on plywood
• User’s Guide to Plywood
• Fine Furniture from Plywood
• How to Handle Plywood
• 6 Ways to Edge Plywood
• VIDEO: Edging Plywood Made Easy
• VIDEO: A Durable, Low-Profile Edge for Plywood
• VIDEO: Trim Plywood Edging Flush
What do you think about plywood and fine furniture? Mark Edmundson created this freestanding piece using special techniques to overcome the inherent drawbacks of using plywood.
The back and door panels of this cherry cabinet were made from 1⁄2-in.-thick veneer-core plywood with a book-matched face. For more on this topic, read A User's Guide to Plywood.