Plywood...


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Plywood had its place in my shop. And I use it all the time. It helps with time and can cut on some costs. Although, it is not my decision. It is given as an option to my "clients". I'll build it either way. It's just what they want to pay for.

What caught me off guard once is my fiances relatives house. She is well off, very well off. Of her several houses, her main house is a glamorous mansion nested in a nice urban sprawl community. The house is trimmed out in magnificent hard woods. Solid wood floors with 5-6" wide planks and ALL clear. The kitchen is really something to rival, and so is the theatre room. But, when I opened a drawer to get a spoon one day, the entire drawer box is made of 1/2" ply. Not even covering the plys.

Spend all this money on the house and then plywood drawers?

My guess is if the cabinets are actually high end they have apple ply boxes with are far superior to hardwood boxes. Woodworkers may not be fond of the looks but the apple ply boxes are great.

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My screen name is because Im getting old and falling apart, just like particle board.

I am trying to find the right words for this discussion as not to offend anyone because that is not my intention. However, I believe the statement that ply is an inferior material and not to be used i

I think "the masters" would have used it if they had it.   I think plywood has no place in reproduction type work.  This is simply because they didn't have it, so neither do you...   In other cases,

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What folks forget about is that plywood is a sub straight. The face veneer is really what makes the ply look like crap. Rotary cut veneer looks like crap because we all know in our heads that the piece is not going to be made from a 24" wide plank of solid wood. If guy would go through the trouble of putting on the right face veneer for the look they are after their projects would turn out much nicer. For example kitchen end cabinets. Nothing worse than a rotary cut end panel on a nice solid kitchen. Its very easy to make the end panels look like a solid wood glued up panel by simply using a flat sawn veneer. The details make a big difference not the wood itself.

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Just to repeat my point this is all context. I have no problem with veneered MDF when used in the appropriate way. It is a very flat a stable substrate, ideal in many ways for veneering on a large scale. I prefer it to particle board (I'm assuming PB is what we call chip board?). Judging the context of a piece is a skill within itself and enables you to specify well for a client.

 

If this is just for fun I would be happy to never use ply mdf etc for my hobby. Just because I prefer solid wood, that does not mean solid is "better" as a broad statement.

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Particle board is that stuff behind you in your bench video when discussing the hand planes :)

Once again, seperated by a common language :)

Could this even be a Northern versus Southern Wisconsin dialect? I call what he has behind him OSB (as he does) and refer to a more refined product as chip board. Basically if they put the OSB chips in a pulsating blender, then glued them.

 

 

My guess is if the cabinets are actually high end they have apple ply boxes with are far superior to hardwood boxes. Woodworkers may not be fond of the looks but the apple ply boxes are great.

For stability, or other reasons as well?

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In general, I think plywood should be kept to cabinetry and built-ins. I don't have much of a problem with plywood drawer bottoms, but I think "fine furniture" should be solid.

But I really love the look of mitered table tops and you couldn't do that with a solid top.

So I guess for me, it all just depends on where it is used. It shouldn't be used as an "easy way out". I feel it should only be used when it makes the most sense...

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I fight a running battle against the misuse of the word "cheap" and dislike the way it was used in an earlier post in this thread.

 

(paraphrasing) "The use of ply 'cheapens' a piece."  (Note also: "cheep" is what a chick does.)

 

All the time I hear people say they want something "cheaper" when what they really mean is "less expensive."  The use of plywood in the construction of a piece, no matter what period it is meant to represent or reproduce, doesn't lessen its quality.  Typically what it does is make it more affordable to both the builder and the end user. (In deference to Freddie, depends on the ply of course!)  I've used ply where it's appropriate to the build - in box and drawer bottoms, as panel inserts and as tops to be surrounded by a hardwood band.  In no way did they make the piece less structurally sound.  In some cases they may actually add to the life of the piece as there will be no expansion or contraction weakening the joinery.

 

Most of us are "hybrid woodworkers" and I find it ridiculous to think that should apply exclusively to the tools we use.  Certainly we're advanced enough a society that we can apply that to our materials too.  If you can't, put away the smart/camera phone and go back to using rotary dial.  Toss the keyboard and haul out the typewriter.  Make sure your ribbon is well inked and roll in a sheet of carbon paper if you need multiple copies.

 

By the way, have you tried finding carbon paper recently?  I wanted to copy some patterns by tracing and I had to go to three office supply stores to find one that still sold packs of it!

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I think this is a presentation issue. I do not feel, from numerous videos, that Sellers is a snob. However, he does state his opinions in very black/white ways that could grate on some. I can see how OSB and ply are not solid wood stock. This requires a different technique. To call it less "woodworking" can seem elitest and it probably would be better to just stick with comparing/contrasting. Where I get confused deals with another forum topic. Why does it matter if I push an iron vs moving a spinning iron? How does that make one less a "woodworker." I percieve you would need to be that single machine operator in a factory for me to get that critical with the question. For me if the hobby shop is yours and you operate all the tools in it, you are good to go. With regard to ply and OSB, the philosophers may call it less "woodworking," but I can sense you all want to make it "craft." People pay for and adore "craft." Go build and somebody will enjoy it, ply or no, power tools or no.

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He does a lot of great stuff Woodsap, videos, articles and I'm cool with whatever approach or angle Sellers takes but I don't feel comfortable with the outlook he often drops in which I too find off putting. I guess he has to create a brand which appeals to his target market. I think it's a pointless rabbit hole once you try and refer to one material or approach in a negative way or as your way being the only true way. 

I respond really well when blogger/poster/video maker stays positive about what they like about a method and why they get good results. I can make up my own mind on what material or tool is best, whether it has a cord or is made from compressed fibers is for me to decide and I don't need to be told what is "woodcraft" or "real woodworking". I find it to be unhelpful.

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I think the point Sellers is moving towards is that in the eye of a true handtool woodworker, sheet goods are inferior. I don't recall Roy Underhill using plywood on any of his shows, and I certainly wouldn't call him a snob. I think it has more to do with how we as woodworkers work the material we choose. I enjoy working with handplanes, and such, so I will gravitate towards solid wood. If I were building a built-in or a kitchen cabinet, I may work with sheetgoods. However, my approach to the material will be different.

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Perhaps it's the way we put things over Mel. I have found Roy (in the limited amount I have seen) to be informative and engaging in a way I enjoy. Like I said I fully respect Sellers views, it's no skin off my nose. I just get turned off with posts like the one I linked too, but that's just me  :).

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I think the point Sellers is moving towards is that in the eye of a true handtool woodworker, sheet goods are inferior. I don't recall Roy Underhill using plywood on any of his shows, and I certainly wouldn't call him a snob. I think it has more to do with how we as woodworkers work the material we choose. I enjoy working with handplanes, and such, so I will gravitate towards solid wood. If I were building a built-in or a kitchen cabinet, I may work with sheetgoods. However, my approach to the material will be different.

He is pretty clear clear that "real woodworking" is done with hand tools and not machines. In my opinion it is pretty arrogant to take a commonly used word like woodworking and redefine it on your own terms according to your own world view. If he wants to name what he does something else, that is fine. But to steal the term "woodworking" from the rest of is is just plain arrogant. So he is going to say that those irish guys building the mahogany table and chairs, with that awesome marquetry (in the other video GS posted) aren't real woodworkers? What a load of BS.

Maybe he makes good vidoes. But so do lots of people who are not so judgemental. I know, I am taking this is a bit too seriously but people like that tick me off :).

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Woodsap, I think your point of word definition is a fair one. I think also the video reference is a fair one, by his standard they are not "real woodworkers" which is a crazy point to make.

I think what must be remembered is that he is a brand and his brand is all about selling a product which in his case is books, dvd's and courses. Because he makes statements like this it's perhaps one of the oldest marketing tricks in the books, by making provoking posts like this people start to talk about them and that generates interest.

I actually find working with sheet goods like Freddie did on his teak cabinets harder than solid woodworking. I find working with solid wood reasonably forgiving.  

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He is pretty clear clear that "real woodworking" is done with hand tools and not machines. In my opinion it is pretty arrogant to take a commonly used word like woodworking and redefine it on your own terms according to your own world view. If he wants to name what he does something else, that is fine. But to steal the term "woodworking" from the rest of is is just plain arrogant. So he is going to say that those irish guys building the mahogany table and chairs, with that awesome marquetry (in the other video GS posted) aren't real woodworkers? What a load of BS.

Maybe he makes good vidoes. But so do lots of people who are not so judgemental. I know, I am taking this is a bit too seriously but people like that tick me off :).

That "real woodworkers" line is just terrible. Where does he cut the line where a craft or hobby is "real" anymore? Real architects use pencil and paper. Spend 100 hours on a rendering that can be done in 5 minutes in a cad program.

Real engineers don't use calculators.

Real construction workers use a elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to elevate heavy loads.

Real humans only wear loin cloths.

Getting a little caught up, but you should get the point. Woodworking has progressed with the times. We have found more efficient ways to complete tasks. Why should woodworking be singled out to be considered "real" if you only use what was used in the past?

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Woodsap, I think your point of word definition is a fair one. I think also the video reference is a fair one, by his standard they are not "real woodworkers" which is a crazy point to make.

I think what must be remembered is that he is a brand and his brand is all about selling a product which in his case is books, dvd's and courses. Because he makes statements like this it's perhaps one of the oldest marketing tricks in the books, by making provoking posts like this people start to talk about them and that generates interest.

I actually find working with sheet goods like Freddie did on his teak cabinets harder than solid woodworking. I find working with solid wood reasonably forgiving.

Agreed, its a marketig thing. No different than saying "you are not really driving unless you are driving a Jaguar." But i still think he comes off a bit sanctimonious for my taste.

And completely agree that sheet goods are not at all forgiving. You can not sand it into submission like you can solid wood :).

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