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Plywood for painted furniture

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seanf

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I’m continuing to plan my first go at furniture making as I build on my woodwork skills. I am looking at plywood for my carcasses and finding either terrible quality (the DIY sheds), huge expense or no stock. To help me actually find materials to work with I would appreciate any advice on:
  • What grade of plywood should I be looking at considering I will be spray painting my pieces?
  • Should I only consider birch ply and just grin and bear the cost for the sake of my project/hobby?
  • Are alternatives such as eucalyptus ply or “poplar plywood throughout” worth considering?
I am also considering a quality MR MDF for the carcasses and only using ply for the drawer boxes as this would potentially cut down on cost and give me a good surface for the paint

Many thanks

Sean
 
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Jones

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You should be able to get decent interior ply or birch plywood at any builders merchant. Birch will need less sanding to get a good surface to paint and tends to splinter less when sawn. A few months ago I paid £36 for an 18 mm sheet but apparently prices have gone up. MDF can be tricky to paint I find using Rustins MDF sealer first works well.
 

seanf

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Thank you very much for your thoughts on this. I visited a few merchants recently to see what they stock. I’m in a small town and most just have the same hardwood ply and no birch to be seen. I did find a supplier of MR MDF though, which is good for future plans, and one had a couple of sheets of oak ply. Most of the hardwood ply seems to be fairly standard with a decently smooth surface so I may give that a go. My only worry is that the face is likely to be very thin and I could end up sanding straight through

Sean
 

DBT85

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My question would be what is the cabinet for? Mrmdf will likely be absolutely fine, machines easily, paints easily (yes even the edges) and is cheaper than birch. Tbh even the drawers can be mrmdf if you like.

The hardwood ply you talk about has a veneer a little thicker than none at all. You can disappear it quite easily but if you're painting it anyway that shouldn't really be an issue. I made a few workshop buys from it and one unit in my utility out of it. Can't honestly remember if it was more or less expensive than the Medite.
 

Doug71

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For furniture I would go for Birch ply over the Hardwood ply, it's just better to work with.

MR MDF is also good stuff, it tends to be flatter than ply but is heavier.
 

seanf

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Thank you both. I am looking to make some bedside drawer units with a frame design that will house inset panels and I am now thinking to make the panels out of MR MDF. I was looking to make the drawers from a good quality ply and just use a clear finish to protect. If I was to make these using painted MR MDF instead would pocket holes on the front and back pieces be strong enough for the drawer boxes?

Sean
 

Droogs

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The secret to a fantastic finish is all in the preparation. I always sand up to 240g as a minimum before I prime and then sand to 320 before applying a 2nd coat and going over again before painting. If using 2pack then it can get 3 coats each denibbed with 400 between coats and then the final lacquar applied and given a week to cure properly before a polish if a glossy finish is wanted. Most people don't bother but you can see a difference.

This a photo of MRMDF done this way before the lacquar is applied
 
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