Cabinet ply choices - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 01-23-2020, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Cabinet ply choices

I have access to buy some cabinet plywood off a guy who bought a huge cabinet closing auction. He has plywood with mdf cores, birch veneer, LVL, sizes from 3/4 to 1 3/4. I'd like to buy a bunch off him for my cabinet project. I've read articles about this but wanted some insight about what ply you prefer and why. I'm planning to make faceless frames and shaker doors. My initial choice is birch veneer since they'll be painted so having beautiful Walnut veneer isn't necessary
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post #2 of 23 Old 01-23-2020, 01:25 PM
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What size cabinets are you making and how will they be used?


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post #3 of 23 Old 01-23-2020, 07:38 PM
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Birch is a great choice for paint grade. MDF core is a good choice also. Sometimes it is not a full mdf, but a thin mdf core below the final veneer. This prevents the internal cores from telegraphing through the final veneer layer.
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post #4 of 23 Old 01-24-2020, 01:17 AM
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I am not a fan of MDF core plywood. It is just too heavy. The ľ inch stuff adds too much weight to be used as the panels in doors.

As for building cabinets, the ladies usually prefer the cabinets with Melamine on the inside. It is so much easier to clean. Don't think Euro style (like what is your doctor or dentist examination rooms) but face frame style. The vast majority of cabinets have only one face showing, the front. You may have to cover the end with a veneer of matching plywood but only having cover one or two ends in a string of cabinets ain't bad.

If you are building a cabinet to display Grandma Great's china, then use the nicest plywood with the appropriate veneer. You are not building a cabinet, you are building built in furniture.

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post #5 of 23 Old 01-24-2020, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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This will be a 6x6 corner unit for a bar/plate storage/cookbooks etc. So it will be built in. Wife wanted glass doors but those are pricey so I'm doing shaker with potential glass upgrade down the road. I definitely don't want full mdf core as I'm not loading 100 lb panels into my table saw. But I'm open to the veneer/mdf combos for the sake of workability. And I will edge band the fronts even though everything will get painted eventually.
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post #6 of 23 Old 01-24-2020, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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The boxes are going to be 24 inches wide. If that matters, and 18 deep for the bottom 12 for the tops. There will be slab and backsplash in between
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post #7 of 23 Old 01-24-2020, 03:04 PM
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I'm guessing you mean frameless construction, if so: a material that remains flat is required. Plywood rarely meets that requirement. A veneered MDF or particle board will be more stable if you want the veneer face. Melamine board is the normal choice for frameless cabinets. Dimensionally stable, easy to clean, no finishing required. But, it is heavy, requires some way for cutting that does not chip the melamine edges, requires something added to finish the edges, PVC or you could add solid wood but finishing the wood is kind of a pain.

Make sure your box parts or truly square or it will cause all sorts of grief.














e edges, usually PVC up to 3mm thick.
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post #8 of 23 Old 01-24-2020, 03:38 PM
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For my last built-in, I used plywood with a primed MDF overlay. It was dead flat and painted like a dream.
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post #9 of 23 Old 01-28-2020, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Wouldn't a good plywood like Baltic bitch be super flat?

Ill see what he has, unfortunately there's no way to know everything till I get there. And yes I am doing faceless frames
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post #10 of 23 Old 01-29-2020, 01:10 PM
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It will work, but bear in mind MDF and water don't play well together.

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post #11 of 23 Old 01-29-2020, 01:46 PM
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i'd be curious why someone is selling off plywood/sheet goods, if they are in the business. it may have issues...
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post #12 of 23 Old 01-29-2020, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimPa View Post
i'd be curious why someone is selling off plywood/sheet goods, if they are in the business. it may have issues...
he bought a bunch of cabinet shop stuff at auction. Probably wanted tools and maybe some sheet goods. But he's hot hundreds of sheets of different types.
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post #13 of 23 Old 01-30-2020, 04:43 PM
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Maybe it's just me, but I consider plywood and MDF two completely separate things. As for cabinets, I won't buy that compressed particle garbage. I don't feel it's as strong, can be quite heavy, and it only takes one small leak under the sink to ruin it. My kitchen was done with nothing but solid plywood and should last a lifetime.

If you're making a speaker box, then I'd go MDF.
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post #14 of 23 Old 01-31-2020, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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He has baltic birch 1/2 as well. I was thinking 1/2" for backs and bottoms, 3/4 for the sides. What do you think?
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post #15 of 23 Old 02-01-2020, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting note on the MDO. I just not know what that is. There's a mill a hour half out of the way from me but they sell 3/4 sheets for $20. I know it's rated for exterior, but if I'm edge banding and painting, seems like that might be the ticket vs birch. Unless I can find a steal on baltic birch at around $30 a sheet or so, then the MDO might suffice well. Any reason NOT to use MDO? Some ppl online say it telegraphs, others say it never ha, some say oil paint some say water. It's like politics up on here!
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post #16 of 23 Old 02-01-2020, 03:20 PM
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Don't know what MDO is used for these days, but ages ago, it was used commonly for interior signs that would be painted. I dont know if it is still used for that. I'm sure it has other uses, I'm just not knowledgeable about it.

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post #17 of 23 Old 02-02-2020, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Well it appears to be a veneer ply with a resin MDF layer for painting. So it has a smoothness of MDF but the water resistance from the outdoor rated resins. Sounds like a good plan for me, especially since I can get it cheaper than the birch.

https://www.apawood.org/overlaid
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post #18 of 23 Old 02-02-2020, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
Maybe it's just me, but I consider plywood and MDF two completely separate things. As for cabinets, I won't buy that compressed particle garbage. I don't feel it's as strong, can be quite heavy, and it only takes one small leak under the sink to ruin it. My kitchen was done with nothing but solid plywood and should last a lifetime.

If you're making a speaker box, then I'd go MDF.
Melamine PB is an excellent material for kitchen cab boxes. White melamine Is a pretty standard material. That said I know of one local shop prefer using prefinished ply.

Robert
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post #19 of 23 Old 02-03-2020, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
Don't know what MDO is used for these days, but ages ago, it was used commonly for interior signs that would be painted. I dont know if it is still used for that. I'm sure it has other uses, I'm just not knowledgeable about it.
MDO is a plywood thats been faced with a phenolic resin impregnated fiber on both sides, instead of the usual wood veneer. I believe that the adhesive used for the plys is also a weather-proof exterior grade as well. Its used for making outdoor signs and the like, the surface is supposed to be perfect for painting and again, weatherproof

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post #20 of 23 Old 02-03-2020, 05:52 PM
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I agree with Dr Bob, melamine board is pretty much the standard these days for kitchen cabinets. That said, many people don't realize there is a big variation in the quality of different brands of the board. The substrate is most usually particle board but you can also get it on MDF. The best particle boards have a fine, very tight face. PB with larger particles on the face and less glue content are prone to chipping. The resin saturated paper is available in many thicknesses. Some so thin you can see the board. You can order melamine in about any color or pattern that is available in high pressure laminate (Formica.) Minimum order quantities apply. You can also have custom patterns made, a picture of your dog or mother in law.
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