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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Muchalls
    Posts
    1,247

    Default How do I judge plywood quality?

    Plywood seems to come in a wide range of qualities and I for one find it difficult to judge in the shop, showroom or whatever which is good and which isn't. Bought some from a DIY store recently, seemed OK but a light sanding cut through the surface at the edges leaving a red tinge, glue I suppose. I know there are specialist suppliers but always expensive and not always handy.
    So, the question is, how can I tell good plywood from poor before I get it home and start work on it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Kerry, Ireland
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    Apart from cost, plywood made up with more layers of thin ply, as opposed to less layers of thicker ply will be better quality. Also look out for voids, ie. small holes or gaps in the layers of ply along the edges. Avoid knots in the outer skin if possible and check for any separation in the layers of ply along the outer edges. Finally, better quality ply would usually be made from harder, denser wood, so it would tend to be a bit heavier. That's all that I can think of.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    636

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    If it survives the drive home on a roof rack it's good. The last sheet of 8 x 4 I bought was only 4 x 4 when I got home.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    S.W. France
    Posts
    7,673

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    I always put a sample in the dishwasher for a few cycles. If it survives that, the glue is good. Decent ply will have hardwood inner layers and a similar thickness to the outer layers. Most locally available ply has softwood inner and very thin outer. But I can get 'proper' marine at a slightly eyewatering price... As above, no voids or knots but a 3.1 x 1.55 x 10 mm sheet is close to €200, while an acceptable exterior grade will be €85.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Emsworth Hants
    Posts
    12,568

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    The best quality plywood is marine ply, the highest quality is the Dutch made Kuyper.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Grenoble
    Posts
    31,678

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    It all depends on the use and location but any reasonable quality ply is going to be dear, the idea that it is a cheap option or source of panelling is wrong. On a boat you are looking at using Marine grade which will be expensive or for some interior uses good hardwood ply or even laminated Birch Ply very expensive.
    To source it you will need to go to either a specialist like Robins Timber or a good timber merchant, you will not buy good plywood from the likes of B&Q it is fit only for use a shuttering.

    To judge the "quality" you can first start by counting the number and thickness of the plys the more and thiner they are the better quality. Then there is the type of wood making up the plys, hardwood is better, the facings at least should be hardwood. Things like the glue or bonding adhesive is difficult to determine with the exception of known marine ply. (See Down West comment about testing) Generally speaking the more you pay the better the quality.
    Last edited by Fr J Hackett; 09-09-19 at 09:03.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Muchalls
    Posts
    1,247

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    Much obliged all, some helpful tips there. Looking at the edges, counting the plies and looking for voids sounds good. I'll have a better idea what I am looking at next time I buy some and the dishwasher test sounds like it's worth a go.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Suffolk
    Posts
    3,701

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    I was in our local Ridgeons builders supplier recently and noticed they were selling 'Marine Plywood to BS1088' it looked ok to me but as I didn't need any I just glanced at it and mentally noted it. I believe 'BS1088' is not relevant nowadays? Ridgeons are based in East Anglia and their timber is usually better than J****** who are across the road.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    UK East Coast
    Posts
    1,841

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Humblebee View Post
    Plywood seems to come in a wide range of qualities and I for one find it difficult to judge in the shop, showroom or whatever which is good and which isn't. Bought some from a DIY store recently, seemed OK but a light sanding cut through the surface at the edges leaving a red tinge, glue I suppose. I know there are specialist suppliers but always expensive and not always handy.
    So, the question is, how can I tell good plywood from poor before I get it home and start work on it?
    I have used ply from this company. Its good quality and durable. They deliver. May not be the cheapest but I now know I can trust them and know I will not regret in 10 or more years time. http://www.robbins.co.uk/marine/sheet_materials.asp

    Www.solocoastalsailing.co.uk

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    South Dorset/moored Poole/lay up Wareham
    Posts
    340

    Default Re: How do I judge plywood quality?

    Plywood: the old BS1088 is not as relevant as it once was and a new standard of grading was introduced categorising plywood qualities more precisely. EN636 class 3 for instance is generally a high class structural grade. This grading should be stamped on the edge of a sheet or sometimes on the end face. More information here. https://www.ridgeons.co.uk/media/fil...er_Sheet_6.pdf as there are many variables now including glue class, veneer class & so on. If there is no type stamp then be slightly wary, however the stamp is a bit difficult to see on some ply if it is on the cut edge.
    www.seasurveys.co.uk
    Surveying & Shipwright info on GRP, WOOD & so much more

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