What determines the quality of any given sheet of plywood? Well, that’s a great question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer. Since plywood is often used for its relative stability (compared to solid lumber) that’s obviously going to be a distinguishing characteristic when it comes to a quality sheet. The inner core is perhaps the most significant factor that relates to appearance as well as performance. Different types of cores are appropriate for different types of projects, and the thinner the face veneer, the more significant the composition of the core.
In Part 1, we looked at some pros and cons of plywood with both particle board and MDF cores and introduced lumber core plywood. This time, we’ll continue learning about lumber core plywood and take a peek at plywood with a veneer core.
Hardwood Plywood Core Types: LUMBER CORE (continued)
Also known as Blockboard in Europe, lumber core plywood often uses softwood lumber for the core; lumber core plywood is significantly lighter weight than MDF or veneer core plywood. This characteristic makes it ideal for aerospace and marine applications. Because the core can contain voids, though, lumber core plywood can greatly vary. When lumber core plywood contains voids, it could be between the boards on both the long edge and the end grain.
Typically, core construction and presence of voids will be indicated by a variance in price; while everyone wants a good deal, an especially low price will typically mean lower quality. Some factors you may want to consider include the width of each stave, density of the species, and dryness of the lumber used. In addition, you might want to check whether glue alone is used to join the staves or finger jointing has been used to all-but eliminate any voids and increase stability.
Because such scrutiny is difficult and time-consuming, and high quality lumber-core plywood is difficult to come by, it’s increasingly rare to be able to source high-quality lumber core plywood. As a result of the difficulty in sourcing top-grade lumber core plywood, J. Gibson McIlvain does not carry it at this time.
Hardwood Plywood Core Types: VENEER CORE
While most species of veneer core plywood can be found, the most popular options continue to be Birch and Fir — and for good reason. The main factors to consider when sourcing veneer core plywood are the composition of the core and the construction of the core. The many techniques and options available can make discovering where to find high-quality plywood difficult, and the trade secrets of manufacturers doesn’t help the process. But if you know some basic information about what to look for in veneer core plywood and how it’s made, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate it when you’re looking.
Continue reading with Part 3.