I'm fairly comfortable with the tools involved, but most of my experience is in building houses, so I don't have a ton of experience with the finer side of wood working. I have a desk I want to build, and I'm looking for some tips.
I would like the desktop to be multiple different hardwoods, laid out like a hardwood floor, kind of like in this cutting board: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/120541727498976505/
My original thought was to cut a tongue or groove into all four sides of each piece, and then lay them just like a hardwood floor on a piece of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood. Then I started wondering if that was just a whole lot of work with no real benefit, and thought I could probably cut them all more like 1/4"-3/8" thick instead of 3/4" and just glue them down with butt joints. Saves on labor, weight, materials, but I don't know if it would impact the quality of the final product.
Is there a reason I would regret the second method, pros and cons to each way? Maybe a third recommendation?
Decades ago, I built a coffee table in the manner you suggested, but I used particle board instead of plywood. It was an "inlay" pattern made of relatively large oak squares and rectangles, with walnut strips in between. Everything was 3/4 inch thick, making the table top 1-1/2 inches thick in total from the particle board and the wood pieces on top.
There were many places were adjacent pieces were crossgrain to each other. Everything was glued down to the particle board, and glued on the edges between the pieces. I used screws from behind to clamp the oak pieces to the particle board, and pipe clamps to hold the top pieces together. Between the glue and the screws, nothing was gonna move. (Yeah, right.)
Over the years, none of the pieces cracked, but many gaps appeared between the pieces. I would guess that they were 1/16 inch wide, with variations. The gaps didn't bother me much, but they bothered my woodworking expert roommate a lot.
I was young and dumb then. Now I am older and still dumb. I made the same mistake when I glued the breadboard ends on a cutting board last September. I hope it lasts, but I told the gift recipients that it might crack, and I would make them a correct one if it did.
Bottom line: The "screw it to the plywood" idea is not a good one. The wood will crack or split or gaps will appear. My previous work is a testament to that.