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Birch ply or red faced ply ?

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bigbigblue

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Happy new year everyone. I know it's not off to a good start but hopefully it will get much better.
I am about to embark on my first cabinet making project - a wall hung media cabinet, 2.4m long, by 450 (ish) high, by 450 deep. All externaly visible surfaces are to be finished in an opaque white epoxy coat, all non visible external and all all internal surface are to be left unfinished (or maybe a coat of varnish on internal surfaces), pocket screws being used for most jointing.
My first issue is what material to use. I have decided on 18mm ply for the carcass, but what type and grade of ply is the issue. Initially I thought B/BB grade birch ply, which I can get for about £75 per 2440x1220 sheet, with a free cutting to size service, but then I spotted this B/BB grade Red faced, poplar cored ply for just under £40 per sheet (but I would have to cut it myself (I do have a sliding table saw well capable of cutting it). I am asking for help in deciding between the two materials. They are both 18mm thick and both are B/BB grade, so why the massive difference in price? I am not too concerned with the colour of the material, as my finish (or doors) will hide it most of the time. I am more concerned with the ability of the 2 materials to provide a good hold for the pocket screws, the weight of each and the load bearing capability (the cabinet will need to house somewhere in the region of 50kg of equipment across its length). A secondary consideration is the ability of the material to take a paint finish, should I decide to paint the internal surfaces.
So, should I use the cheaper or more expensive material and why?
Thanks.
 

pcb1962

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The cheaper board will have voids in the layers, which is no good if your project will have any cut edges visible.
 

bigbigblue

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Thanks. A very good point, but luckily all visible cut edges will be covered with the epoxy finish, so can be filled before finishing.
Is there a standard which specifies the maximum permitted size of such voids or is it simply pot luck?
Thanks.
 

Doug71

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Birch ply every time.

The cheaper stuff will be more likely to splinter on the face when you are cutting it, especially cross grain.

The Birch ply will contain more layers so be stronger.

In my opinion if you are making a piece of furniture it is definitely worth paying the extra for Birch ply.
 

Torx

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Quality grading


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Ollie78

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Birch ply is very much better than the" hardwood "or far "eastern red" stuff.
It has almost no voids and even consistent layers.
Worth the difference as its much nicer to work with.
If you are painting it bb/bb might be fine, the construction of the boards is exactly the same its just that a b face won't have any patches in the veneer at all, the bb faces allow a few. The patches are so well done you won't notice when painted.
Should be quite a bit cheaper.


Ollie
 
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bigbigblue

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Splintering would indeed be very bad. Re the number of layers, the red faced ply and the birch both appear to have 13 layers.
 

bigbigblue

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Thanks all. Birch ply it is then. Might try a sheet of the red faced ply for some shelves in my workshop, where the finish is obviously not important
.
 

robgul

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Thanks all. Birch ply it is then. Might try a sheet of the red faced ply for some shelves in my workshop, where the finish is obviously not important
.
Being not that far from you I'd be interested to know where you buy timber - I've had mixed results with a number of suppliers (mainly for Birch ply)
 

bigbigblue

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Being not that far from you I'd be interested to know where you buy timber - I've had mixed results with a number of suppliers (mainly for Birch ply)
I have used both Great Barr Sawmills and Davies Timber in Wythall. I have not purchased any plywood from them - yet. Great Barr sawmills will cut sheet material included in the price of the material and there isn't a limit on the number of cuts. Also they will cut it while you wait (no need to pre-book). Davies Timber are a little cheaper for the material, but do charge per cut and you have to send them a cut list for a quote.
 

billw

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I have used both Great Barr Sawmills and Davies Timber in Wythall. I have not purchased any plywood from them - yet. Great Barr sawmills will cut sheet material included in the price of the material and there isn't a limit on the number of cuts. Also they will cut it while you wait (no need to pre-book). Davies Timber are a little cheaper for the material, but do charge per cut and you have to send them a cut list for a quote.
Would be interested to hear the quality of Great Barr as they're the closest to me.
 

bigbigblue

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Would be interested to hear the quality of Great Barr as they're the closest to me.
I purchased some beech from them to make some drawer fronts for under stair drawers. They cut the beech to size, then planed and thicknessed it for me, for no extra charge. This was done quickly while I waited and I was very pleased with the timber. I would have no concerns in recommending them.
 

robgul

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I have used both Great Barr Sawmills and Davies Timber in Wythall. I have not purchased any plywood from them - yet. Great Barr sawmills will cut sheet material included in the price of the material and there isn't a limit on the number of cuts. Also they will cut it while you wait (no need to pre-book). Davies Timber are a little cheaper for the material, but do charge per cut and you have to send them a cut list for a quote.
Great Barr is a bit of trot for me - I've been to Davies a couple of times but the plywood they stock isn't that brilliant - I have had some from Coventry Timber - product is pretty much OK and delivery service is excellent - and they cut stuff for me . . .not sure if I paid extra for that.
 

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