Plywood for building cabinets

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MotorcycleWriter, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. MotorcycleWriter

    MotorcycleWriter Vis ad locum

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    This forum is such a great resource I've about quit all the other forums I used to use. Motorcycle riders, it seems, do everything and do everything well. I know I do.:D

    So, I'm building out my garage with a full set of cabinets. I've done a good bit of cabinet work in the past but I found this YouTube garage cabinet video series that I really like. I think it'll speed up my process.

    I've just not always been happy with my wood in the past. I generally buy at Lowe's or Home Depot and wind up with warped walls. A lot of the warp comes out in the build but I was wondering if there's a higher grade plywood that's more dimensionally stable but that won't break the bank.

    "Pro" Tip: I have been ordering my drawers and doors for the last few cabinets I built and they arrive faster and cheaper than I could do myself. Far less labor intensive and just as good as homemade with a dovetailing jig and a couple of Saturdays tossing out pieces with split dovetails.
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  2. DavidR8

    DavidR8 Wanna-be ADV rider

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    If you want to go first class Baltic Birch plywood is amazing.
    Otherwise go with Grade A G2S (Good two sides) or G1S.

    Plywood of that grade is expensive no matter what. Lowe’s etc rarely carry these grades because cabinet trades go to specialty stores.
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  3. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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  4. Boomer343

    Boomer343 Been here awhile

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    I love to design and build custom cabinets. Having said that the last big build I did I bought the cabinets and drawers from Ikea as the majority of the cabinets were standard size. I did make the fridge enclosure, oven/microwave tower and one custom upper cabinet. I also made all my own doors and drawer fronts along with custom gable ends and front along the island. Everything was finished with catalyzed lacquer with a pearl finish in our garage turned into a spray booth.

    I have only used mdf and melamine for my cabinets for years. The custom cabinet shop I was working in around 1975 used veneered particle board for doors and drawer fronts as it was far more stable than plywood or solid core plywood. We used melamine for the carcasses and put in a liner of thicker arborite into sink cupboards. The days of high VOC glues with your head inside the cabinet .... may explain a few things.

    I have had mdf and particle board cabinets in my garage for years with no issues. Five years ago I finally took out some raw particle board shelves that I put up on the cheap in 1989. Not pretty but still holding tools and supplies. Our garage is unheated, has high moisture when the snow melts off the cars in winter and is a working garage. Using proper joining techniques, glues and fasteners with mdf or melamine is key.

    I do like to work with Baltic Birch, not all of it uses water proof glue so it can delaminate when wet. I laminated some 5 foot wide stair treads using two pieces of one inch thick baltic birch.
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  5. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    I just re-did my kitchen with Baltic Birch (and style & rail trim with ash). the stuff I was getting from my local (really good) hardware store was laminated up with waterproof glue. the 1/2" (12mm) has 10 plies, no voids. and because of construction, it's plenty stiff. see my airplane avatar, the floats have hatches for storage. I've have that same plywood in the floor of the compartments for about 5 years & no problem. couple coats of Varithane on them. it's not under water, but it is occasionally wet and always damp. I cut a sample of Baltic & soaked it for a week & there was no change whereas the Luan plywood I got from Home Depot delaminated in an afternoon. one quirk to the Baltic is the size... its metric and is just slightly bigger than 5'x5'. I thought the price is pretty good. the 1/2" 5x5 was about 45 bucks here (where shipping is expensive)
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  6. MotorcycleWriter

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    So if I’m using a Kreg pocket hole jig, I guess 3/4” is the way to go. Man, are those going to be heavy!
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  7. DavidR8

    DavidR8 Wanna-be ADV rider

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    IMHO they don’t need a 3/4” back.
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  8. MotorcycleWriter

    MotorcycleWriter Vis ad locum

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    I usually use 1/4” back panel but that wouldn’t work with a pocket hole. I also intend to hang with upper cabinets with cleats. Haven’t hung with cleats before. Is 1/4” stiff enough to hang from with a cleat?
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  9. TeneRay

    TeneRay Bitch, I'm fabulous

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    Plate joiner (always called them biscuit cutters) are good to have when aligning the face to the sides. Keeps things square.
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  10. tominboise

    tominboise Long timer

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    When I built out the cabinets in my garage, I used 3/4 ply to make the tapered cleats - two cleats per cabinet and matching bevels to pull the cabinet into the wall when the cabinet is set on them. I used 1/4" plywood for the back, set in a dado, with the rear face of the back sheet set in 3/4 of an inch, so the cleat mounted to the cabinet is flush with the back of the cabinet sides. Cleats were screwed to studs, obviously. And glued to the cabinets. I then ran screws through the cabinet cleats into the wall studs, just to be sure.

    It must have worked as they have been on there for 18 years.
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  11. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I use Sandeply for cabinets if I'm not worried about staining them. I've tried using biscuits and kreg jigs, but I always revert back to rabbits and dados. Large carcasses where I may be worried about stability, I'll include a permanent shelf close to center. This combined with a 1/4 back makes for a very stable construction. Once glued up and tacked together, I clamp it good, even clamping in speed squares, corner clamps, anything I can to hold it perfect till the glue dries.

    Pre-building your faceframes and getting them on during the process can help as well.
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  12. TeneRay

    TeneRay Bitch, I'm fabulous

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    Melamine is good since if it gets dirty, all you need to do is wipe it down. It's used in a lot of commercial environments. If there's one nearby, I believe menards sells melamine. Does require a special blade.
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  13. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    As a life long wood worker my cabinet work has been mostly solid hardwoods. In my shop the only cabinets are commercial steel not ply, etc.. I did make some jigs (to cut wall cabin log dovetail corners with a chainsaw) last winter of the Lowe's birch plywood. I needed the true surfaces and strength, not after appearance. Actually I don't care for birch plywood esthetics wise- I'm a "real wood freak". The jigs don't require waterproofness other than a coat of varnish I put on for durability's sake. I looked for and found a buggered up panel to get their discount on stuff they mess up.
    I say 1/4" backs and cleats, no pocket drill jigs needed. I have never owned nor wanted the Kreg's stuff, just my way.
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  14. MotorcycleWriter

    MotorcycleWriter Vis ad locum

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    I usually set a 1/4" back in a dado, as well. Those pocket holes just made it look so easy... but dado'ing it pretty easy too. Just set the table saw and run it through. None of it is really hard if you have some decent tools. Getting everything down to 1/100" linear and .01 degree angular or so is time consuming but very well worth it for appearance and strength. Get your back nice and square and everything should pull nicely into shape without the use of external aids. My biggest problem right now is that I don't have a nice assembly space because I am, in fact, building the assembly space!

    I'll have to check the flatness of my walls for the cleats. I recall that I did attempt to use them once before but the wavy wall in an older house made it much harder than it would have been otherwise. This is a new house and interior walls are very nice but the garage was clearly dry-walled by drunk Mexicans and then only mudded and taped enough to comply with fire codes. And yes, it had to be Mexicans because they have a complete monopoly on the dry wall service here! And yes, they did have to be drunk because... damn!
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  15. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I offer full service remodeling in my business. I often will put my 6' level across walls to see what I'm working with. More often than not, I re-skim the walls to make my cabinets sit flat. Good Sheetrock finishing has quickly become a lost art. I'm thankful for the training I got early on by old timers who's background was plastering.
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  16. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    I'm with these guys.... dado where required, cleats, 1/4 on the back, Titebond, a pin nailer, and good clamps. biscuit joiner is good for some places too. the Kreg system is good for some stuff but I didn't find it as handy as I thought it was going to be. I'll add assembly braces. these are the ones I have. not just angle stock, they are machined square. I have 4. very handy...


    [​IMG]

    those are more of a good guide and help hold things square but you can't put too much force on them to pull in something that is out of rack. not a problem if your cuts are accurate. this one below looks more substantial

    upload_2019-9-17_10-40-26.png
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  17. jar944

    jar944 Long timer

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    The borg Columbia purebond is decent for the price. The cheap sandeply actually isnt bad either and will stay really flat if you let it sit for a year or so to dry out...

    For shop cabinets i use whatever is cheap, and or laying around. I have some in radiata pine ply, some in purebond c3, some in sandeply, and so on.

    Pocket holes for face frames, screws or staples (and screws) for carcass assembly. Leave the backs off until after paint if you are spraying. Square cuts lead to square assembly, you shouldn't need 90 degree clamp brackets.
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  18. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    parallelogram_499x300.jpg

    Square cuts don't prevent things from getting racked.
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  19. jar944

    jar944 Long timer

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    Actually they do, your diagram has no thickness to the edges. Even 1/2 ply will square itself assuming the cuts are square. You can pull it out with clamps if you aren't paying attention though..

    These are square, and were self squaring.

    20190902_200930.jpg
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  20. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Once glued up, I always clamp. It's really no big deal to include squares......big boxes especially. Necessary or not it works for me and I like the insurance.
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