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Wood Magazine

Why it pays to buy good plywood


edge of plywood
It's what's inside that matters

When evaluating a sheet of plywood, start by looking at its edge. Thin veneers of wood, glued and pressed with crossing grain directions—transform humble core woods into sheets that are wider, flatter, and more dimensionally stable than anything found in nature. But modern plywood manufacturing, especially overseas, has shifted from birch-only cores to other often-inferior woods at the expense of core quality and stability.

When examining plywood, ask yourself: Are the layers straight, of a consistent thickness, and free of large voids? Irregularities in the core veneers can telegraph through to the thin face veneer and broadcast themselves during sanding and finishing.

Sight along the edge to check the sheet's straightness. A bow indicates unevenly dried core material that only warps more, as cutting the sheet releases internal tension.

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Wood Magazine