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Modding Is it possible to make Plywood look nice?

Discussion in 'Modding' started by mat0tam, 6 Feb 2012.

  1. mat0tam

    mat0tam Mr I Dont Know What I Want

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    Il get looking for veneer, if its cheaper enough I will use that but otherwise im thinking of just staining and painting/varnish :(
     
  2. landspeeder95

    landspeeder95 What's a Dremel?

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    I personally LOVE mdf: It is a very consistent material (you can even mill it) and relatively inexpensive. It does create a lot of dust however while cutting.

    Examples of veneer (using heatlock iron-on glue) and painted mdf
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Good plywood is also nice (assuming you have a strategy for dealing with the endcuts), most readily available plywood is terrible as a finishing product (i.e. it is designed as a sheathing that will later be hidden by another material). Depending on what your ultimate end goal is going the ply route may be very expense: high layer to inch count, void free, thick double veneered face, both sanded finish grade.

    Take a gander over to htguide, diyaudioprojects, avsforum, or about 100 other sites to see example of what you can do with mdf, veneer, or ply.

    cheers!
     
  3. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    No MDF! Gahhh! I spend most of my time rebuilding cabinets made with that crap.
     
  4. JPicasso

    JPicasso What's a Dremel?

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    I would think for this size project you're not going to save a bunch of money by using plywood or MDF over pine or other common wood.

    If you're planning on painting it black, that also makes your wood choice less relevant, no? Just plug and paint. As for materials absorbing paint, you just put another coat of paint on, pretty cheap solution.

    I'd also recommend a coat or three of clear polyurethane.

    **EDIT**
    I just read this a couple of hours later, and I hope I don't sound flippant or condescending. It just feels like you are thinking too hard on the materials, if you are ultimately going to paint them all. If you are planning a dark wood stain, then ya, double plan it out, but not for paint.
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2012
  5. landspeeder95

    landspeeder95 What's a Dremel?

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    Cheapskate, have you seen any of quizz_kid's mdf heavy scratch builds and are you possibly confusing MDF for LDF or particle board?

    Density Grades
    "Wood" | Elasticity million pounds/square inch | density per cubic foot
    Particle | NA | 19
    LDF | NA | 27
    MDF | 0.53 | 48
    HDF | 0.21 | 60
    Oak | 1.55 | 38
    Ply | 1.2 | 33

    Just hoping to help :)
     
    Last edited: 7 Feb 2012
  6. asura

    asura jack of all trades

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    The problem with using natural wood (some, not all - pine is a perfect example, even kiln dried will warp like a warping thing...) rather than one of these composite materials is dimensional stability.
     
  7. mat0tam

    mat0tam Mr I Dont Know What I Want

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    Thanks for the advise, yeah from everything Ive read so far I think painting will be the route I go down, without spending ALOT on nice wood with a good finish I feel its the best way to go.
     
  8. mat0tam

    mat0tam Mr I Dont Know What I Want

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    My thinking exactly :)
     
  9. landspeeder95

    landspeeder95 What's a Dremel?

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    Since you have decided on painting, do you wish to see grain through the paint or do you wish to have a dead flat finish (which could have any sheen you want)?

    If you wish to see grain, I would recommend sticking with a finish grade void free ply. You'll still need to concern yourself with HOW you are going to handle the end cuts.

    If you do not wish to see grain, I would highly recommend going with MDF. Even butt joints once filled and properly sealed will not be visible through your finish. If you take the time to rabbit your joints instead, you'll greatly reduce your finishing time on the 'end grain'. If you do go this route, you will want to use a solvent based sealer/primer. Then 'fill' the 'end grain' with drywall compound. Sand/route this flush then seal/prime again. Now put whatever pain finish on it your heart desires. Sealing the inside as well as the outside will allow your unit to last forever.
     
  10. MiNiMaL_FuSS

    MiNiMaL_FuSS ƬӇЄƦЄ ƁЄ ƇƠƜƧ ӇЄƦЄ.

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    One of my favourite finishes is to use cheap pine sheeting. lightly burn it with a blowtorch and then varnish, looks great.

    [​IMG]

    that was an 'unfinished pine desktop' from Ikea, cost around £20.
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2012
  11. kinghong1970

    kinghong1970 Just a Clumsy Ape

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    OP plywood is much more stable than solid wood... each ply are cross grained and give strong resistance to change due to temp and moisture.

    Ply vs MDF
    MDF is flat... very flat... hence, despite it's difficulty, rather, annoyance in working with mdf due to the amount of dust it kicks up, it is widely used in doors where vertical flatness is required.

    PLY comes in various grades... you will need to check on that... from a reputable lumber mill.
    in USA, we have home cheapo that sells crappy plywood... tends to delaminate easily and also there are lots of void areas that you'll find when cutting.

    Baltic Ply is very nice material to work with... thinner and yet more like 18 to 20 ply in a 3/4" sheet... versus standard ply of only about 8-12 ply... so it'll look nicer and also, raw edges look nicer.

    most cabinet grade ply comes with maple or birch with usually one good side, and one lesser graded side...

    you can buy exotic wood ply such as cherry, ropey cherry, bubinga, teak, and sky's the limit... but the prices are quite expensive...

    for example, this was from my plywood source...

    1) ropey cherry veneer core plywood:
    Only MDF core full 3/4"
    $3.60/SF A1 MDF Core 3/4" plywood

    2) baltic birch:
    5x5' sheet Russian Birch
    B-BB grade Clear Face, no football patch
    Back side some patces, clean face
    3/4" 18mm $1.86
    1/2" 12mm $1.26

    3) sapele ribbon stripe plywood:
    VC Ribbon Stripe A1 3/4" $2.95/SF
    VC A4 1/4" $1.70

    4) maple plywood white rotary maple VC
    C3 grade 3/4" $1.80 SF
    C3 grade 1/2" $1.28 SF

    a 4'x8' = 32 sq ft... just give you an idea, my most expensive so far, was mdf core teak ply at almost $300 for a sheet (~$9.40/sf)

    those fancy plywood are thinner ones that have been steamed and layered to produce those results.. .you cannot take a 3/4 ply and bend it to that degree...

    good luck and be sure to post pics.

    btw, edgebanding to hide the seams are quite easy... they have iron on adhesive backed bands in the many species.

    finishing...
    this is another conversation all together...
    you mentioned wood grains... well, not all wood are the same... some are soft, some are hard...
    pine, softwood, maple, oak, hardwood...

    one of the best ways to pop a grain on wood easily is by using a oil finish... either Tung oil or BLO (boiled linseed oil)

    (please note, read the warning carefully when working with certain types of wood finishes, as they are exposed to oxygen, they can cause spontaneous combustion)

    certain wood will work well with oil... the oil gives pop to the grain and a lot of depth...
    certain wood will not, and so you will need to enhance the grain with stain or different means.

    wood also changes color when exposed to sun... so keep that into consideration as well... cherry darkens, walnut lightens over time...

    oh, and also, when working with nut producing wood, be careful of wood dust and/chips, especially if anyone is allergic to tree nuts.

    not sure how far into wood you wanna get involved... but take a look here...
    http://www.veneersupplies.com/
    http://www.hearnehardwoods.com/ (these guys show you some amazing grains on wood )
    http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com/finishing.htm (good info on hand rubbed finishes)


    my favorite finish on wood would be BLO or Tung Oil followed by layers of polyurethane top coat

    i've tried BLO and Epoxy for a vanity top and that is also quite amazing... the depth of the coat helps bring out the grain even more...
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2012
  12. Boscoe

    Boscoe Electronics extraordinaire.

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    [​IMG]

    This is my new desk which is Birch faced ply stained 'Georgion Medium oak'. I think I will whack a thick varnish on too.
     
  13. landspeeder95

    landspeeder95 What's a Dremel?

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    MiNiMal_FuSS: I LOVE that burned pine plank finish!

    Kinghong1079: great rundown. Mind sharing your plywood source? That is a fantastic price on the Baltic Birch (a favorite staple of mine… that I’ve spent FAR more on).
     
  14. kinghong1970

    kinghong1970 Just a Clumsy Ape

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    i have an commercial account with a local supplier Atlantic Plywood...
    we do some work for commercial office buildouts and some minor residential woodworking when things are slow...
     
    Last edited: 9 Feb 2012
  15. landspeeder95

    landspeeder95 What's a Dremel?

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    Thank you (and sorry for the hijack)
     

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