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Thread: Beware of the new plywood!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    Beware of the new plywood!

    A couple projects ago my delivery of furniture grade plywood looked just fine, until I started using it. On close examination, the outer ply was the usual super-thin furniture wood, but the next layer was much like masonite... the old fashioned non-tempered masonite. Then the rest of the layers were the usual plywood layers of ply core plywood.

    I work alone, so when I bumped a corner, instead of getting a little ding, I got delamination back a couple inches. When I drilled a hole with a Forstner bit, I got some delamination in the front, but worse, the back pushed out before the point came through, so I could reverse the bit and cut the back layer. A couple of the hinge screws pulled out - a problem I "never" have with traditional plywood. One flat side had a slight bulge that you could only feel when checking the finish. I suspect that the panel got twisted or something when I was horsing it around alone.

    I called my lumber yard and complained. The manager said most of his customers loved the new material, since it was especially flat - no ghost of the under layers through the ultra-thin veneer. He said he would have laughed at me except that I was the second complaint that day, after weeks of rave compliments. We talked about it, and finally realized that the complaints had come from the one-man shops, and the complements had come from the larger shops with multiple people handling the material and CNC routers rather than hand-operated tools.

    I don't know what the new type plywood is called - it has some of the advantages of MDF core (super flat), but it sells as a type of ply core. My lumber yard now promises to keep this new plywood for the CNC customers, and stock the regular ply core for the "ordinary" customers like me.

    But I make sure I ask for "real" ply core when I place my orders now!
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central CA
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    797
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Plesums View Post
    ........I don't know what the new type plywood is called.........


    Sounds like it's called "caacaa".
    Last edited by Mark Rios; 01-09-2008 at 06:43 AM.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

    "Just think how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!" --George Carlin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Kansas
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    417
    Thanks for the head up on that, I will have to look around next time I go to look at plywood.
    Rise above the rest

  4. #4
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    Nov 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    Thanks for the advice Charlie, I'll keep it in mind on the next plywood purchase/s I make.
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southern Louisiana
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    947
    charlie,

    was it exceptionally heavy for 3/4"? i had a shipment of red birch domestic ply awhile back that felt like 3/4 MDF. don't recall the second layer looking like masonite, but probably the 3rd layer was something that resembled an exotic wood in color, very hard and very dense.

    thanks for the heads up...it's good to know you have a good supplier who is willing to take care of his customers!!

    chris

  6. #6
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    Apr 2007
    Location
    Long Beach, CA.
    Posts
    17
    Did the lumber yard, make it good with you?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    When I talked to the lumber yard yesterday, I asked the salesman what they called it... he used the phrase "combination core" in the context of avoiding it in my next order. Since the salesman was new, I am not sure if that is an official name or just "what he calls it."

    Quote Originally Posted by John Williams View Post
    Did the lumber yard, make it good with you?
    John, by the time I was sure it was "different" in a way I didn't like, I was well down the path in my project, and would not have taken new material even if they had offered it free. My "complaint" was to see if I could avoid that type in the future, and they assured me that I would ... after a few weeks for them to get the regular ply core back in stock in all the species.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Mire View Post
    charlie,

    was it exceptionally heavy for 3/4"? i had a shipment of red birch domestic ply awhile back that felt like 3/4 MDF. don't recall the second layer looking like masonite, but probably the 3rd layer was something that resembled an exotic wood in color, very hard and very dense.

    thanks for the heads up...it's good to know you have a good supplier who is willing to take care of his customers!!

    chris
    No, it felt like regular plywood... the stuff I get from this lumber yard is often a full 3/4 (not 23/32), and often has 15 or more plies - I just noticed that the two plies near the surface were thicker. (If it had been hard and dense, I would have been thrilled). It was only after the problems I noted (size of damage on a corner ding, drilling problems, etc.) that I started poking at it. It is pretty near the end of a project when I am drilling wire holes with a forstner bit in an entertainment center or bookcase - that was where I started to get frustrated.

    The supplier is Austin Hardwoods. But, there were four stores owned by the founder, then he franchised around the country (so I have heard of "Austin Hardwoods" in California and Colorado - and maybe others). When the founder retired late last year, he apparently "freed" the franchises, and sold his four stores to BlueLinx (big Fortune 500 company). I was afraid what would happen to my good service, but it stayed good (or got better... they just moved to a larger facility from very cramped quarters). When I met BlueLinx at AWFS, they were as worried as I about not breaking the good service Austin Hardwoods had provided. So if the recommendation goes farther than the Austin copy of Austin Hardwoods, I would look for BlueLinx.

    The manager hinted that they would soon be adding a "green" line of plywood. It would be domestic (which generally means a thicker outer ply, but possibly more sanding required), and no formaldehyde in the glues (don't get me started on that subject). He estimated that the cost would only be about 10% over the imports - and I suspect it may be another way to solve this problem.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

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