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What is the preferred plywood in your opinion to build kitchen cabinet and a dresser ??

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3/4" Birch

My choice is Baltic birch for furniture.

Oak for kitchen cabinets carcase.

Solid oak for furniture and cabinet frames. 

Drawers from Baltic Birch.

I've been working almost exclusively with maple woods for about 5 years.

This is a personal preference, along with what my customers have been asking for.

I've done a few projects that were going to be painted, and used poplar for those.

For the casework, and even many drawers, I've been using birch or maple veneer 3/4" plywood from Lowes. I find the inner ply's / layers to be a better quality that Home Depot.

Note: I've never had a problem with HD's stock, I just like the fit-n-finish of the Lowes product a wee-bit more.

Most of my hardwoods have actually come from Menards - they offer what they call "random cut" lumber. This is maple, birch or oak boards that are sanded on 3 sides (S3), with 1 straight edge. 

At under $4 per 'board foot'  (roughly speaking ~ 1 square foot @ 3/4 - 1" thick), that's a really attractive price.

Here in Michigan, they source these products from Michigan lumber mills :)


Depends on the type of hardwood that you wish to use for face frames and door drawer fronts.  If building a finished project that is oak I use plywood with a oak veneer.  In plywood look for a quality plywood that has more plies that the random stuff you find at the big box stores looking for a furniture grade that will have better than 7 plies  in a 3/4 thick sheet.  Since the overall quality of the plywood with depend on several factors of how it is made I avoid any from such places as Home Depot and or Lowe's as they are exclusive to import lumber here on the west coast even though the are several plywood mills here in Oregon and Washington.

I have found that the better quality plywood come from lumber sources that deal strictly to the furniture and cabinet industry.  In plywood a builder of cabinets and or furniture of which you depend on it's quality of looks requires that you select your material well depending on the grain pattern and match up the look of the grain to be friendly and in the case of multiple sheets to be a similar to color and grain pattern as possible.


However that is only the start of the battle as you also depend on the quality of the plywood construction which means dealing with thin veneers, veneer patches, core voids and dry glue surfaces in the inter construction of the sheet.  I look for the number of plies as the more plies theoretically means a stiffer and more stable piece to work with as the more plies mean more multiple directional stacking of the plies and the more glue in the sheet.  However if you get a dry joint (lace of proper amount of glue) you will get a sheet that will de-laminate in time if not when you cut it or attempt to use a screw or fastener to join the sheets.

This de-lamination problem is not only limited to the amount of glue and or the amount of press pressure but also the core quality.  In the cheaper plywood you often get very soft and actual trash wood used in the plywood inter core and that means a poor bond between the plies.  This will also mean weak and poor screw and or fastener strength as there is actually nothing to resist the pull out of the screw, nail or staple.  It would be akin to inserting cardboard in the plywood as a ply.   The problem with voids in the core is that it makes for a weak lamination in the total sheet as well as the problem that sometime comes when you cut a piece to length or width and suddenly there is this big ugly void in the edge. 

Now the final issue with plywood is the quality of the veneer as most now are so thin you just about have to avoid sanding an especially with a sanding tool and need to sand by hand.   If not often times the result is a burn through down to the usually ugly inter core of which will be a very noticeable eye sore that will not take stain that will match the veneer. 

Also of concern is the smoothness of the veneer as many times you will get plywood that passes your careful inspection until you apply a finish.  Then it appears a nasty appearing roughness in the veneer that is caused by the knife blade chatter when the veneer is pealed from the log.   So now what do you do as applying the finish is the most often the very last step in the construction before it is installed or the customer sees it. The problem is often that you can not feel it with your hand but once you apply the finish you will see it like a big blinking red light shining on your otherwise perfectly build project.

Since I build totally custom high end cabinetry and furniture I have began to use a hard wood material building panels for anything that is visible to the eye.  In building custom cabinets that means that you need to remember to add in the thickness of the panel in all measurements where a panel will be installed,

So what I do and suggest to others that want to produce the best product is to seek out a quality plywood dealer that has a reputation with in the local woodworking population for the place to purchase your plywood.  It is surprising how little the cost difference is between cheap quality and good quality plywood.  Given that choice and from my long experience I will go that extra dollars spent to insure myself of a better product. 

I have also noticed on here that there is still the argument of using glue.  Well I can tell you that the use of glue is just like the use of quality products and it is another step towards producing a top notch project and one that is mediocre.  Glue is definitely a bonding agent and akin to stacking plywood veneer sheets with out or a poor grade of glue into a stack and the screwing them together.   Since plywood inter-core is often a poor grade of wood the pull out resistance is not the best all the time and I certainly would like to have that extra measure of insurance that the joint will remain a solid joint.   Glue is in-expensive and does not take that long to apply and also fills any voids in the plywood to plywood or plywood to hardwood joints.

In building drawers I also use Baltic birch on many of them however there is also the same problem with it as you can get a cheap Baltic birch and you can get a quality Baltic birch  and based on the very same problems at the cheaper quality plywoods.  In the joinery I use dovetails rather that the drawer lock joint as the joint is definitely the stronger of the two.  I also use glue in the joinery as well.  I definitely will not use a butt joint held together with nails staples or screws as they are weaker of the methods.  The screw is stronger between the butt jointed drawer but also looks like heck too.  Sure you hide the screw with the drawer front but if you build high end stuff that will be a time when the customer will pull out the drawer and see the pocket holes and your custom work drops a bit in their mind.  A butt joined drawer in never as strong as a drawer lock joint and or a dovetail or even a finger joint application.  The mechanical failure of drawers is not always the slamming of drawers as many think but it is the continual opening and closing of the drawer.  When you think about it each time you open a drawer all the contents that are not stationary go to the back pushing on the back of the drawer and pulling on the front of the drawer.  When you close it the opposite happens and it is this weight that forces a butt joint apart.  It is the same principal of the raised panel or a full thickness of a door panel made of solid wood.    Because to the forces applied from contraction and expansion of the wood the solid wood panel must float inside of the door frame.  Because most doors are build using 3/4 thick material and you remove the traditional 1/4 inch from that rail and or stile for the panel to be inserted into, you have removed a lot of material and strength for the edges of that stile and rail thickness.   Most times you need to add to the stile and rail on the face side a decorative cut meaning that you weaken the stile and rail groove thickness even more material and leaving you a very thin margin of wood to hold the panel in place .  Depending on how you cut the panel groove in the stile and rail will depend on how thick the front and rear is  and in many cases you find that the back of the door rail and stile is the thinner of the two.

after a length of time and use and depending on the method of use where or not it is closed normally or slammed you will begin to see the front or the rear break out.  Most of the time it is the rear.  Since the panel floats within the groove it moves and when the door shuts that panel continues to move and exerts it weight and speed of the forward movement,    Since the frame stops when the door meets the face frame,  there is nothing to stop the heavier panel except the thin material of the panel groove on the stile and rail the panel will in time break out the groove.    Methods to stop this is using 13/16" thick door stile and rail material and careful placement of the panel groove  and using a rubber spacer, either flat or the rubber ball that is placed in the groove to keep the panel from suddenly moving when the door is opened and closed.  If you hear the panel rattle when you shut your door that is what is making the noise.

This is off the topic but thought you might like to hear additional as it seems that not to many are publishing "how to" information on here anymore.  It is also my point that if you want to build nice looking strong products it depends on at least 3 things.  Design, method of construction, and quality of the material.  I think I have touched on all three.

Have a good day and always work safely. 

In doors I will not use screws even though many do. 

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