Finding good quality plywood at a reasonable price is not impossible. But, you do have to look around and be selective. I use 3/4″ “Radiata Pine” plywood in the Northeastern USA.
Google “Home Depot 3/4″ Radiata Pine Plywood”
I have built lots of cabinets, benches and jigs out of GOOD Southern Yellow Pine plywood in my studio. I really like it. Southern Yellow Pine is a softwood. However, it is hard, strong and tough like a hardwood. It is easy to sand. It makes a great looking cabinet or bench.
Where is what I look for when shopping for GOOD plywood.
- Around $40 per 4×8 sheet is my limit for good plywood! Well, the Pandemic I has force me to raise my limit to $60.
- Any plywood, I purchase MUST be dead flat. No warped sheets!
- 3/4" plywood needs to be at least 7 layers of the SAME wood. No 5 layer stuff. No weak soft wood core layers. All the layers should be the same thickness. No thin veneer of good stuff on theoutside and crap in the middle.
- Lots of 3/4″ plywood is really 23/32″ these days. We have to accept it and live with it. 3/4″ = 24/32″. Thus 23/32″ is almost 3/4″.
- Currently, we can not get Southern Yellow Pine plywood in the Northeaster US at reasonable prices. Thus, I use Radiata Plywood from Home Depot. See above photo.
- Radiata Pine is not the same as Southern Yellow Pine. However, it is similar. Good stuff. It is used for Engineered Lumber Beams, etc. You can read about it at "Radiata Pine Plywood" .
- I avoid "Cabinet" grade plywood that cost more than $40. It often costs way to much. The core may good or weak soft wood. It is not worth the extra price when I can get good Radiata plywood for around $40 a 4×8 sheet.
- I avoid "Sande" plywood. I got fooled into purchase a sheet of this once. I had a hard time using it up. I am not really sure what it is. It sort of looks like Luan plywood. It is to soft. The core is weak soft wood. Note: The Radiata plywood I recommend above comes pre-sanded.
- I DO NOT use Hardwood plywood. Structurally it is often weak. Maple, Oak, etc plywood is often a VERY thin veneer layer of hardwood over a weak soft wood core. The soft wood is often low quality. Thus the plywood looks good. But, it is not tough, strong, etc.
- In this case, I would also avoid Birch plywood. It may be good cabinet grade stuff or just a thin veneer over a weak core. Yellow or Radiata plywood is harder and tougher.
- I DO NOT use pressure treated plywood. It is often Southern Yellow Pine. However, warped plywood is a hassle, I can do with out. If it is not warped at the store, then it will warp not long after you get it home.
- No MDF. No OSB. They are not plywood! I like things to look like real wood. MDF swells up when it gets wet. OBS flakes off over time. No good!
- The above use to be part of my Carl’s New Powermatic 2014 Lathe Stand blog entry. I moved it here so I could easily refer to it from other blog entries.
- On 12/29/22 the cheapest sheet of 3/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood at my local Home Depot in Poughkeepsie NY is $42 RTD Sheathing. The most expensive is $90 for Red Oak.
- On 12/29/22 they have some “Yellow Pine” plywood. It is $45 Pressure Treated. Warped like a potato chip. The “Radiata Pine” stuff if nice and flat.