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Big Box Plywood Quality

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  • Big Box Plywood Quality

    I am in the process of completing the winter project of building a storage coat closet to be installed as built-in for our foyer. It will be painted with cove molding extending to the ceiling.

    The planning and design started back in October 2016. It is 82 inches high, 50 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Four drawers on the bottom with full extension soft close Blum slides and two cabinets on the top with an open display in the middle. The coat hanging portion is 48 inches high and wide with sliding doors covering the opening.

    I have been using the orange store (TOS) birch plywood, 1/2 inch for the drawer boxes and 3/4 inch everywhere else. I know we have talked about plywood quality and big box stores in the past. I almost hate to go and buy it sometimes.

    A couple of weeks ago I went to buy the last piece I needed at TOS and took a piece I thought would be OK when I cut it. This was for the sliding doors and it needed to be straight since there is nothing else to support it. A few days later I made the first cut. This crap had a 1/2 inch bow over 48 inches.

    What to do? Went back to TOS and was surprised I could return it. Got my credit and went to look at the pile of same material. Now six sheets down was a load of new pristine pieces. I thought about this and decided they would not want to move the existing stuff, which was really dinged up so I left.

    I knew my choices were the blue store (TBS) or the twice the price high quality lumber yard for those folks that build along the Connecticut shore.

    I have not used TBS because the choice of product was Asian plywood and very limited. I thought well, I have to drive by TBS so why not have a look. To my surprise they now have a brand called "Top Choice" and the birch plywood looked great. It was $5 more but that was not a concern.

    I loaded up a sheet, took it home and cut the needed pieces. Very happy with the material. As I worked on the pieces I saw the stamping along the edge, "Made in the USA". A little research indicated it comes from Roseburg Forrest Products.

    The only way to fit this in the room was create it in the basement then, disassemble and paint it. Priming and painting is under way now. Next is some room preparation and then I can install the project.

    At this point I will go to TBS first for my project plywood.

  • #2
    I think that plywood is a crap shoot, regardless where you purchase it. Like they say it doesn't warp like regular wood, it warps like plywood. Cabinet shops use plywood with Masonite core for doors and panels that are not braced to restrict warping. This material is quite pricey.


    • #3
      I've found it's hit or miss with the Roseburg plywood. Sometimes I'll get some good pieces I'm happy with, but about half the time I find the center of the sheet is delaminated and un-usable. Each time I've returned it for another no problem though. I think I for my next plywood project I'm going to see what I can get through a cabinet shop though - I'll pay the extra bit for a nice core and thicker veneer.


      • #4
        The cabinet shop nearest me wanted over $100 a sheet for 1/2" core plywood. I needed 10 sheets, so no, I went with the big box stuff. Some of the doors warped and I'm not happy with them, but it was for laundry room cabinets, not kitchen cabinets. They will do.


        • #5
          Around here I've had the best luck finding plywood at Menard's. For dimensional stock, it's my local Lowes. I hit the BORG only when I'm desperate.

          "Be excellent to each other."
          Bill & Ted


          • #6
            Originally posted by gsmittle View Post
            Around here I've had the best luck finding plywood at Menard's.
            That's my practice as well. I made a project with "cabinet-grade" plywood from BORG some years ago. The plywood was imported from a really big country on the other side of the world. It turned out to be the lowest quality plywood I've ever seen. I don't know if they have stopped sourcing junk plywood in the intervening years. How bad was the plywood? I ripped several seven-foot long, 1 foot wide panels and discovered insanely large voids in the laminations. Some were so bad the 3/4" plywood pieces flopped around like the plywood was made of rubber.

            I haven't picked up much plywood at Menards recently, but in the past it has always been US or Canadian manufactured and I've had good success with the quality. Dimensional lumber at Menards, well, that isn't always so good...


            • #7
              Cabinet grade 3/4" plywd is about $100.+ per sht. in Hawaii depending on wood veneer type. About 8 yrs.ago I had a job that required 3/4" matching grain numbered sheets with Koa veneer, I needed 11 sheets for the job, it was $795. per sht. and that was my price, it retailed for $900.00 per sht. Can you imagine what it would cost now. Anyway the BORG here don't carry cabinet grade plywood. They sell their ply for about $49. per sht. for 3/4" Oak veneer and the veneer is soo thin you got to score your cut line b4 cutting with your saw. Cost of materials here is way out of line but, that's the price we pay for living in Hawaii.


              • #8
                I finally learned my lesson. Two days ago I started building a shop cabinet and decided to use a combination of what I thought was 3/4 Aurauco ply and 3/4 scraps. In fact the "Aurauco" was baltic birch I'd purchased a few years ago. Well, that 16x30 piece of scrap for the back was warped just enough that it would not fit into dadoes I'd cut in the sides of the baltic with a plywood router bit. Fortunately I had enough birch to cut a new back.

                Cheap as I can be at times, paying more for quality materials pays off in a better quality project.