Solid wood is an excellent material to work with, but for some projects, laminate materials are more appropriate. Plywood is a great way to cut costs in both materials and labor. In this article I am going to discuss some pros and cons and uses of ply.
Plywood is a strong and very stable material, which makes it ideal for use on furniture. The advantage over solid wood is the speed at which it can be cut into panels for box bottoms, drawer bottoms and door panels. A task that would take many hours with solid wood can be accomplished in minutes using plywood.
One of the best plywood for furniture making is called Baltic Birch. It is made from veneers much thinner than most layers and is made from birch throughout. It does not have large gaps between the layers, which makes the edges very attractive and the board stronger.
Plywood always comes with an odd number of layers and the grain direction is oriented in alternate directions, which is what makes plywood so strong. The more layers, the stronger the plywood. Plywood is very good at holding screws and holding hardware, which is something in which it outperforms other sheets.
Plywood is available with many attractive veneers, allowing it to match solid wood. However, due to its stability, plywood is a good surface to apply your own veneers. Plywood does not break due to layers of cross graining and, unlike solid wood, is very strong in any direction.
Indoor plywood is used in most furniture, but outdoor plywood is waterproof and good for kitchens. Marine ply is a very high quality waterproof plywood selected to have flaw free laminations.
Some disadvantages are that it is more expensive than particle board and can have gaps in the core layers. And when making traditional furniture, solid wood furniture can be seen by the general public as being of better quality. However, I consider plywood to be the best man-made board available and have seen the birch layers used as a very attractive feature.