Cabinet plywood when quality is scarce - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 07-20-2020, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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I am building my own cabinets for a kitchen remodel, but have never attempted a cabinet building job of this scale. I’ve built a bathroom vanity and laundry room base cabinets, both of which were frameless and I wasn’t as worried about plywood grade. The kitchen cabinets will be full face frame with flush inset shaker doors, and are going to be paint grade. I am leaning towards a hard maple for durability.

The problem is I live in a rural area, and it seems my already short list of plywood suppliers is acting like an ant mound that’s been scalped by a lawnmower with the COVID situation. I made 7 calls this morning trying to get someone to confirm that they can order something and how much it is and don’t have a single answer yet. I’m not just impatient either, this is round 3 of attempts over several weeks. No suppliers stock anything other than what they call cabinet grade, and it’s 5-7 plies for 3/4” with many visible voids along the edges. I just don’t feel good trusting this plywood to hold screws in a kitchen upper cabinet.

The only thing I’m fairly sure I can get at this point is Europly by Columbia from Home Depot. MultiPly by Roseburg might be possible too. So the question is, am I overthinking this and would be just fine buying the thick ply/thin face veneer stuff at the big box stores for painted cabinets? Or if I really am on the right track and need a nice zero-void veneer core 11-13 ply, any tips on actually finding it? Mail order is not an option either, the built in I have planned around the refrigerator has the largest panel at 3’x 6’ which is is bigger than anyone would ship.

Edit: added location: southwest Virginia between Bristol and Roanoke.
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post #2 of 18 Old 07-20-2020, 02:58 PM
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welcome to the forum, Zach.
will all of your cabinets be painted ?
if so, an option would be to find some Medium Density Overlay (MDO)
plywood that painted signs are made of.
most brands have no voids and are of good quality.
if your box stores don't carry it, or can't get it, check with a sign supply
company in your area.
This Old House TV show has had several shows where all kinds of home
remodels and cabinets were made with MDO.

.

there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.
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post #3 of 18 Old 07-21-2020, 09:00 PM
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You definitely want a thicker face if your planning a bunch of sanding.

But as far as strength goes, any 3/4 plywood will hold onto a wall. Voids or not.

Matter of fact, the cabinets I pulled from the house Im renovating used simple Douglas fir 3/4 plywood. They were totally custom built to the kitchen, no standard sizes. Very well made. I really liked them, but the layout of the kitchen just did not work, so they had to go.

It took me a while to get the wall cabinets down, cause I wanted to save them.

I removed every screw and nail I could find. But turned out I missed a single nail. It took a 6 ft pry bar and a hell of alot of strain to get it to come down.

That when it finally came down was still completely intact.

I ended up cutting up the old cabinets to use as drawers for a work bench. This is one of them. Its holding no less then 100 lbs of hardware plus its own weight, and has been for 3 months as is.

And it served the previous owner for I assume at least 20 years.

Point is, I dont think its that critical. Get the best material you can get within normal channels, and you will be good to go. And use cabinet screws with a washer head, or regular screws with standard washers, screwed into the studs, and that cabinet will be solid.

I just counted - 6 plys and there are voids here and there.

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post #4 of 18 Old 07-21-2020, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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John, thanks for the tip, and I would consider that an option but didn’t see it readily available near me either. I finally talked to the right person at Lowe’s and HD, looks like I can order a veneer core maple with a varying lead time for a little over $100 a sheet, so I think I’m going to go that route.

Edit: furnacefighter , thanks for the real-life feedback! I think the stuff I mentioned above for special order is probably still the best bet. It is a rotary cut veneer, but hopefully it has some thickness to it.

Last edited by Zachofalltrades; 07-21-2020 at 09:11 PM.
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post #5 of 18 Old 07-21-2020, 10:24 PM
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Best of luck!

100 per sheet sounds pretty steep to me. At least in my area, I can get Veneer core Maple rotary cut for 60 or 65 per sheet at Menards, which is like HD or Lowes, but primarily in the Midwest.

Perhaps its not apples to apples.

If its worth the extra to you, then its worth it.

But if its strength thats the concern, you can always add a nailing strip on the back of the cabinet for added support.

That is one of the ways the mass producers of cabinets get away with using veneered particle board or 1/4 ply back panels and such.

Like I said though, if its worth it to you, then its worth it.


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post #6 of 18 Old 07-22-2020, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furnacefighter15 View Post
Best of luck!

100 per sheet sounds pretty steep to me. At least in my area, I can get Veneer core Maple rotary cut for 60 or 65 per sheet at Menards...
No such luck around here, I wish Menards came down here. I was half way tempted to drive to Ohio for the nearest one to me. Didn’t map it out, but that’s an all day round trip
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post #7 of 18 Old 07-22-2020, 07:53 AM
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I just used this UV prefinished plywood from Menards for the first time recently to build some drawer boxes. It's a nice product and great for cabinet carcasses, drawers etc. The only issue was the glue. I researched and found a glue that sticks well to the prefinished surface. Got a bottle on Amazon and it works great. I know you don't have a Menards close, but you might want to look into the product. I wouldn't hesitate making a whole kitchen worth of cabinets out of this stuff.


For the drawer fronts I used a maple veneer ply for the flat panels of some shaker style fronts I made, thinking that maple would paint well. I had a few huge voids to deal with that were a pain. I would probably use a different product for the painted parts next time.



https://www.menards.com/main/buildin...32-c-13334.htm


https://www.amazon.com/RooClear-Mela...s%2C185&sr=8-1

A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains...

Last edited by Maintenance Man; 07-22-2020 at 08:26 AM.
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post #8 of 18 Old 07-22-2020, 08:28 AM
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Edge of a scrap piece of the prefinished ply I used.
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A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains...
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post #9 of 18 Old 07-22-2020, 08:47 AM
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How far is the closest cabinet shop?. Look for combi-core...
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post #10 of 18 Old 07-22-2020, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maintenance Man View Post
I just used this UV prefinished plywood from Menards for the first time recently to build some drawer boxes. It's a nice product and great for cabinet carcasses, drawers etc. The only issue was the glue. I researched and found a glue that sticks well to the prefinished surface. Got a bottle on Amazon and it works great. I know you don't have a Menards close, but you might want to look into the product. I wouldn't hesitate making a whole kitchen worth of cabinets out of this stuff.


For the drawer fronts I used a maple veneer ply for the flat panels of some shaker style fronts I made, thinking that maple would paint well. I had a few huge voids to deal with that were a pain. I would probably use a different product for the painted parts next time.



https://www.menards.com/main/buildin...32-c-13334.htm


https://www.amazon.com/RooClear-Mela...s%2C185&sr=8-1

Thats what I used for my table saw outfeed bench top.


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post #11 of 18 Old 07-29-2020, 12:07 AM
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When I was looking for materials I had success calling a cabinet shop and asking who they used. You may ask if you can buy through them, also. They'll probably charge a markup...

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post #12 of 18 Old 07-29-2020, 08:45 AM
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Yeah, too bad you are not close to a Menards. They mill their own wood unlike other big stores.
I get B grade Maple for about $50 and they always have 11% off sales. 3/4 MDF for $23 and I think 3/4 MDO is around $58
It actually looks really good with just a polycrylic clear.

Good luck searching
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post #13 of 18 Old 07-30-2020, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies! There are very few cabinet makers near me, but there used to be a large one that went out of business several years ago. The problem is if business slowed down, many of these places closed temporarily or permanently. Some sources I’ve tried just don’t even answer their phone any day of the week.

That being said, I decided to venture to the dark side and look at Home Depot’s plywood in person. The maple they stock is only a 7 ply, but actually looks ok. Veneer is a little thicker than what Lowe’s carries, and the core has less voids from what I saw. It’s also a domestic lumber also, so I consider that a plus. I figure this takes a lot of stress out of the project and gives me some reassurance that if I need more I can just run down there and get it.

Building a torsion table right now so I can make some real headway now that I’ll have a solid assembly place and a nice out feed table! Don’t judge the mess, I think a dust collector is coming soon too.
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post #14 of 18 Old 07-30-2020, 07:18 AM
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I might have misunderstood, but the whole cabinet job will be painted, correct? If so, you could just use MDF for the shells, something like poplar for the face frames and doors. The custom cabinet company I worked for did that for all their painted cabinets. I was never aware of any problems due to that choice of materials.

If you're not painting everything, or if you're certain you want veneered plywood for the shells, I've never had a problem with the standard stuff at Lowe's and Home Depot.

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post #15 of 18 Old 07-30-2020, 10:11 AM
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I started using this for shelving and shop cabinets

https://na.arauco.com/en/c/products/ct-plwoo/br-arply

https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/...ethods-123314/

This is high quality Pine plywood with few if any voids and is great for a painted project and CHEAP!
https://www.homedepot.com/p/23-32-in...6823/305226085



The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

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post #16 of 18 Old 07-30-2020, 11:34 AM
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If quality plywood is rare, I would suggest that you consider building frame-and-panel carcasses for your cabinets. I built all of my lower kitchen and back porch cabinets this way and it only requires 1/4 plywood for the panels. They are also a lot lighter.






Except for the backs - which are beadboard plywood- all of the carcasses on my lower cabinets here are built from frame-and-panel sides and backs. I used a matched set of 1/2 router bits to cut all the frame and rails. I use 5/4 stair tread stock for my face frames and the dimensions are historical - being on 2" and 3" dimensions as appropriate for a 100yr old house.
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post #17 of 18 Old 07-31-2020, 09:33 AM
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I should clarify that the backs of my upper cabinets are beadboard plywood, but the backs of the lower cabinets are frame-and-panel.



I also just invested in a beadlock kit to help improve strength in doors and load-bearing sections of frame-and-panel (like upper cabinets sides and doors).
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post #18 of 18 Old 07-31-2020, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RepairmanJack View Post
If quality plywood is rare, I would suggest that you consider building frame-and-panel carcasses for your cabinets. I built all of my lower kitchen and back porch cabinets this way and it only requires 1/4 plywood for the panels. They are also a lot lighter.






Except for the backs - which are beadboard plywood- all of the carcasses on my lower cabinets here are built from frame-and-panel sides and backs. I used a matched set of 1/2 router bits to cut all the frame and rails. I use 5/4 stair tread stock for my face frames and the dimensions are historical - being on 2" and 3" dimensions as appropriate for a 100yr old house.
Which parts are 2" and which are 3"?

Rails one size and stiles another?

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post #19 of 18 Old 07-31-2020, 02:23 PM
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For the lower cabinets, the face frame sides and tops are 2". Only at the bottoms are 3" Note that I also skipped the toe-kick (as they are not historically accurate).


The top cabinets just utilize regular 1x2" off-the-shelf hardwood stock. The cabinets for my new kitchen are going to feature a "scratch bead" (on the face frame) around the inset doors. The bead treatment will visually lighten the appearance of the face frames.
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