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Thread: First project, need some plywood advice

  1. #1

    First project, need some plywood advice

    I've got some plans for a router table. The plans call for 3/4" "Good Plywood". I've no idea what or where to go buy. There are at least 3 options for lumber yards here. Big box store; 2 local lumber yards, 1 lumber yard that stocks lots of exotic wood.

    One of the locally owned lumber stores will cut the plywood for $2/cut. I'd like to take advantage of that. My table saw is a contractor grade non portable saw, but I don't have the confidence to handle a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood yet.

    I've used some software to come up with a plan for the cut list. I entered into the software that I was starting with (4) 2' x 4' pieces of wood, the software laid it out and the project really only needs 3 of the 2' x 4' pieces.

    Does it make sense to just have the lumber yard cut the 4 x 8 into (2) 4 x 4 pieces? I can then cut them down to 2' x 4' and cut out my pieces. Or plan "B" I have a straight edge saw guide I can clamp down on the 4 x 8 and cut it in half with my circular saw.

    What grade/type of plywood should I buy? If buying a higher quality, than is necessary, will make my project go easier I'm all for it. I've got no idea what to ask for?

    Many thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Breaking down a sheet of plywood with a guide and a circular saw is a very good way to go no matter what kind of table saw you have. Many us with top level table saws do that and then cut them to perfect size on the table saw when you don't have to wrestle an out-sized piece. Much safer too.

    My choice for things like a router table has always been Baltic Birch ply (not from China kind!) It comes in 60" x 60" and has 19 plys in the 19mm (or 3/4") thick sheet. Very stable, no voids. finished well. Its other feature is that the exterior plys are as thick as the inner plys.

    However, 'shop ply' or A/B ply is also very nice for these projects through there are not as many plys in the same thickness as the BB ply and there may be some voids. The exterior ply of this sheet is paper thin compared to the inner plys. Can cause issues when building. Check with your vendors to see what they have. The big box stores would be my last look.

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Carol's got you

    One note to add that you won't get 4 2'x4' pieces out of a 4'x8' piece of plywood because there'll be a bit of waste getting to trued and trimmed (3 cuts at 1/8" each will take up 3/4" of an inch to start assuming no oops and all perfect edges which isn't something I count on ). Generally I try to just scale things down an inch or so to optimize yield of the plan allows it or you'll need more sheets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    There is a question i would ask u first in regards to your question of what ply to buy.

    what is your budget and what is your long term intent regarding your shop equipment.

    while i have over time graduated to using Baltic Birch Ply, I really only did so after finding a local reasonably priced source.

    Prior to that i purchased my ply at Home Depot and used from construction grade 3/4" through to fir. We dont get the variety at the price u do in the US. so initially thats what i used.

    Lets be clear and honest many a person has built a more than acceptable and usable router table from borg material. Its all about budget and what u want.

    There are guys that have workshop cabinets better quality and looking than any house i have lived in. Sure looks good and creates a wonderful working environment. But u don't have to go that way and spend a fortune to enjoy woodworking.

    Keep it proportional is my view. Keep in mind the table in your router table is only one part of having routing ability. No point having a fine table and then not having coin for some good quality bits that are going to do the cutting. Or the router for that matter. So consider your budget in all this.

    But as Carol warned some ply not only from China is just really not worth the issues that come with the lower cost. Voids are only one issue. I bought some once (yeah sucker for a deal) this stuff came from South America (cant remember actual country now) and it was warped, voids, varied in thickness, had an outer skin so thin it peeled.

    so consider budget for overall project and then spend accordingly.

    The most important part of your "table" is the top. It needs to be flat and stay flat when u have your router mounted hanging on it. So keep that in mind in your choice of material.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Wow, thanks for all this advice!
    Turns out I can't get Baltic Birch in 3/4 or the metric equivalent. I can get Birch locally for $36.79 per 4 x 8 sheet.
    I re ran my cut list taking into account the kerf after cutting a 4 x 8 into 2 x 4 pieces. It didn't effect the cut plan as the plans took that into account. So nice to be protected from myself!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    When you are taking the kerf into account, remember that you are building a router table, not an F18 Eagle. I always get my plywood cut down into sizes that will be handy for me, as my truck won't hold a 4 x 8 sheet. I built a decent band saw table and drill press table out of " fir ply. It is flat and level, and has straight edges. I save the baltic birch for furniture projects.

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  7. #7
    Definitely Baltic Birch, not standard construction ply.
    The Chinese BB that HD sells is fairly decent stuff.

    Cutting: Why pay someone $2/cut? If your back is very bad or something, then yes.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    I don't know about home depot, but my local Lowe's will do the first cut for free, then only $0.50 per cut for the rest.
    Tellico Plains, TN
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

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