Types of Furniture-Grade Plywood

Written by timothy sexton
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Types of Furniture-Grade Plywood
Top-grade plywood is much smoother than lumber with a typical particle board-type appearance. (plywood texture image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)

The typical piece of wood furniture in a home today is no longer constructed from actual wood pieces, but instead from manufactured wood products. One of the most familiar of this type of wood product is plywood. Plywood is available in several different grades that can make it sturdy enough to be used for everything from outdoor construction to furniture.


Plywood is a construction of an odd number of layers of veneer that have been glued together to form a panel. The grain of each veneer is glued at right angles to the adjacent veneer. The number of veneers that are used to make a piece of plywood can range from three to nine and occasionally more.


Plywood is available in both hardwood and softwood types. The difference between softwood and hardwood is on the type of glue that is used and the grade of the inside plies. Softwood plywood is used for a wide variety of uses including building material and cabinets. Hardwood plywood is preferred for sturdier furniture projects.


Letters are used to designate grading quality of plywood. "N" means a smooth veneer free of open defects. "A" denotes a smooth surface. "B"-grade plywood has a solid surface that contains circular repair plugs, knots and some minor splitting. "C"-grade plywood can be discoloured, stitched and have knots. "C-plugged" means splits cannot be more than 1/8 inch. "D" indicates knots and knotholes in the wood can be up to 3 inches wide. "Ortho's Home Improvement Encyclopedia" advises that "A"-grade plywood's smooth surface allows a natural finish to be applied as long as it is not too demanding.


A/C-grade plywood provides a smooth side that is perfect for applying a finish onto after you have made a piece of furniture. For this reason, "Petersen's Home Repair and Maintenance Guide" asserts that A/C-grade plywood is the most economical choice for those looking to put a finish on a piece of furniture.


A/A interior-grade plywood is very commonly used in the making of cabinet doors and furniture where both sides will be visible. A/A interior may also be painted or stained. If you needed a sanded panel type of lumber where the appearance of only one side is important, go with A/B interior-grade plywood.


A grade of plywood based on its grooved appearance is known as Texture 1-11 plywood. Although this is technically considered a exterior plywood grade, it can be an excellent choice for making furniture where a texture effect is desired. "Furniture You Can Make" even recommends 1-11 plywood for making adjustable bookcase shelves.

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