Of the different wood textures and types, plywood is particularly sought after by woodworkers for a number of purposes because of its durability and flexibility.
In this piece, we will examine several of the different plywood textures and types, so that you can have a better idea of what sort of plywood might be great to use for that next woodworking project.
What Is Plywood?
A composite wood paneling made up of multi-layered veneers that are glued together, plywood is structured in a way that allows woodworkers to create a variety of different designs that they might not be able to with more ordinary types of wood. A major advantage of plywood is that its layers are glued together at alternating right angles, making it particularly strong and durable. Additionally, plywood’s cross-grained composition lessens the chances of the wood splitting when the edges are nailed. Plywood is also resistant to cracking, twisting, and warping not to mention that it is also cheaper than similarly layered boards, making it ideal for planking purposes.
One disadvantage of plywood is that its layered structure makes it especially porous and opens it up to significant damage if it is exposed to water or other elements. However, exterior plywood, since it is put together with water-resistant glue, can help to prevent some of this potential damage. Though, if the outside elements are especially harsh, some other, more resistant wood type may be necessary for a particular project.
The Plywood Grading Scale
Plywood is graded on an A-D scale, with A representing high-quality plywood with the most seamless texture and D representing weaker or more damaged plywood. Plywood is given two letter grades: one for how the plywood looks on the back, and one for how it looks on the front. So, a type of plywood’s official grade will probably look something like AB, BC, CD, etc.
These grades are important because they let woodworkers and homeowners know which kind of plywood they may need for a particular project. While higher-grade pieces are probably ideal for decorative purposes, lower-grade pieces can be used on more utility-based projects.
5 Different Types of Plywood
There are a variety of plywood types, each with different wood grain texture and levels of durability. Here, we will specifically focus on five plywood types.
1. Softwood Plywood
Made out of softwood veneers such as cedar, fir, spruce, or pine, softwood plywood is the most common type of plywood and is typically utilized for industrial or construction purposes. Softwood plywood can be used on a variety of different projects, depending on the thickness and texture of the wood. For instance, thicker softwood is used for subflooring, while thinner softwood is used for wall and roof sheathing.
Because it is so readily available, softwood plywood is also perfect for DIY projects.
2. Hardwood Plywood
Hardwood plywood is known for its strength, durability and wear-and-tear resistance. Usually made out of ash, birch, maple, mahogany, or oak, the properties of hardwood plywood make it perfect for furniture making, cabinet making, or any project where a smooth surface is required for finishing.
Because it tends to be of such high quality, hardwood plywood is usually AB grade.
3. Marine Plywood
If you’ve ever been on a dock or a boat, then you’re probably at least vaguely familiar with marine plywood. As far as plywood is concerned, marine plywood does tend to run on the expensive side because of its core durability and water and moisture resistance that comes from its layers being bonded together by Water Boiled Proof glue.
Made out of alder and birch, which are both low-density hardwoods, ApplePly contains a greater number of layers than hardwood or softwood plywood. It’s also ideal for furniture and cabinetry because it has a great number of laminations and a fairly low number of voids.
5. Particle Board
The cheapest but weakest of sheet materials, particle board combines shavings, sawdust, and small pieces of wood, which are mixed with glue and then pressed into sheets. Normally used for shelving or under laminates on countertops, particle board can also be seen on inexpensive furniture after it is covered with vinyl and trimmed with solid wood.
Considering What Sort of Plywood Will Work Best for That Next Project
Its unique composition and general durability through most conditions make plywood an ideal material to work with on a whole host of projects. When choosing the right type of plywood, you have to consider what sort of project you’re working on. Are you looking for something with a sleek look to make furniture out of or something that is more weather resistant for outdoor use? Consider your budget as well, as prices of plywood can vary wildly depending on what type you plan on getting.
All in all, a working knowledge of a variety of different types of plywood is crucial if you hope to be an effective woodworker.