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Plywood Choice


When making kitchen cabinets, should I use standard plywood or baltic birch? – Roger Bradley


Bob LaCivita replies: When making kitchen cabinet boxes, there are a number of choices from particle board core melamine to various plywoods as well as solid wood construction.
Regarding plywoods, I do not know what standard plywood is. Baltic birch is overkill and very expensive. If the cabinet interiors are closed, meaning no glass doors or open shelving cabinets. I would used prefinished maple plywood. No finishing.

If you want to color the interiors, you could use a shop grade rotary cut birch or a plain sliced maple depending on your budget. Remember nobody looks inside kitchen cabinets even though they are the most used cabinets in the home. If the cabinets are open, I would use the same species as the face wood.

Brooks Tanner replies: I use baltic birch in construction of some of my products, for acoustic purposes.
In general, if the project does not warrant baltic, I don’t use it. Baltic often arrives at my shop looking a potato chip, anything but flat. As a base for acoustic shelving, I often need to use my wide belt sander with a jig to sand the shelf flat. I buy baltic thicker than is necessary for the job to allow for the loss in flattening of the ply.
In finishing, baltic tends to have a lot of “fuzz” that sticks up and needs to be sanded after the wash coat. It also is very thirsty and soaks up lacquer like a sponge.

When making kitchen cabinets, I use prefinished ply. The finish is UV-cured and very tough. It also looks good and saves me labor. Just make sure that your table saw is clean and will not scratch the finish. Prefinished ply is available in many species, however, maple is most often used in kitchen applications. Being a light wood, it helps with light and the ability to see in the cabinet.

Tags: Wood