On this episode I talk a lot about plywood. There is a lot more to talk about in the future but I did my best to address some of the questions that have come in on the topic recently.
- The Roseberg Forest Products "scandal" with Okoume
- Plywood core composition
- Non Toxic, "green" plywood options
- CARB2 and the new TSCA Title VI regulation
- Tariffs on plywood
- Lightweight plywood product called FeatherCore
This is a deep topic. Several questions occurred to me:
1) We hear the term “Baltic birch” a lot. Is that a specific brand name or a generic term. I went to a local lumber yard and asked for it and got a strange look. To be fair this is one of those old-school lumberyards where the employees are a smart-aleck to anyone who is not a professional tradesman and I suspect if I went in there are used the secret code words, they’d be more helpful. They seem to have little regard for us hobbyists. They keep a product list at the register and I looked through it and only saw generic sheathing and some birch veneer like I would find at the big box stores. I’ve seen it at WoodCraft but only in smaller pieces and not in ¾ (at least not the last time I looked).
2) I’ve seen several types of plywood on This Old House and other shows that I’ve never seen in a store, for example: MDO, pre-finished cabinet-grade stuff, and MDF-core with fancy veneer faces. Where do you buy that stuff? I’ve never seen it at a big-box store, Woodcraft, or at a lumberyard.
3) What is “marine” plywood and where to you get it?
Good questions Greg.
1) Its both. Baltic Birch is a brand but it has also become synonymous with a shop grade plywood. You would probably have more universal luck by referring to it as shop plywood or shop grade which is usually a BC face with a veneer core all in Birch. The quality however will be all over the place and let price be your guide. You do get what you pay for and dramatically cheaper panels will have corners cut somewhere in the process.
2) Plywood is expensive to stock and to ship so it is a volume game. When you can buy and entire bunk of plywood you can have it laid up to your specification and get hybrid or specialty cores and choices of veneer species and cut. Most plywood distributors/manufacturers will do custom layups or have a wider range of options available but they are not going to sell by the sheet and usually you are talking about 25+ sheets. The solution for the hobbyist is to reach out to the local cabinet shops or manufacturers and see what panels they are using and offer to buy from them or use their off cuts. The lumber yards and home centers will only be stocking the material that will move fastest which means the most commonly request and lower price points.
3) This is not an easy answer as it depends on how you plan to use it and therefore your definition can vary. I am however planning an episode specifically about marine ply in the near future so stay tuned.