As we discussed in a previous post, issues relating to the ideal number of layers in plywood hail back to the glue. Glue issues, in turn, typically hinge more on the application than the glue itself, making consistency and quality control in the manufacturing process incredibly key. The hard part? Finding out about the manufacturing process can be difficult because customers are usually purchasing their plywood from a dealer who is several times removed from the manufacturer. The supply-chain gap can be even more difficult to bridge when the buyer isn’t sure what questions to ask, in the first place. So let’s get back to the main issue: getting a good quality sheet of plywood. How can you be sure to do that? The answer is simple, really: Go back to a day when you had great plywood, and start by analyzing what made it that way.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
What made the plywood you remember great? Maybe it was the pristine face appearance or a completely flat panel that stayed that way. Perhaps it included a sound, void-free core that milled almost like solid wood. Once you have it in your mind’s eye, try to pursue that memory a little further. What did you spend to buy that panel?
If you remember, it’s time to go to your dealer and communicate any details you can conjure up. What if you’ve never had a great plywood experience? Imagine one and then go to your dealer with what you’d like to see.
A Challenge to Business Assumptions
We’ve all heard this advice: Don’t throw out the first number. In many cases, that idea makes good sense; however, in this situation, it’s really not good counsel. Plywood mills can make adjustments quickly and are capable of manufacturing products with just about any specifications you can conjure up. Let’s say you request an A1 Cherry panel and want to pay about $75 for it. They can do that. If you say you’d rather spend closer to $50, they can do that too. And those products won’t be identical or made exactly the same way. You aren’t going to simply pay $75 for a $50 panel, if you throw out that number, first; for $75, you’ll get a $75 panel.
A Few Possible Variations
What exactly makes the difference between the $50 panel and the $75 panel? It’s really anyone’s guess, but it’s bound to be something. Maybe it’s the glue, the core construction, or the face veneer, but whatever it is, it’s bound to be something. Perhaps that something doesn’t really matter to you as much as price point does; that’s fine. But what if you absolutely need a stable core without voids, and that’s where they cut the costs? It’s extremely important for you to be specific about exactly what you need. You may need to wait a little longer for it to be custom-made, but it can be manufactured if you can’t find it in stock.