5 Things Most People Don’t Know About Plywood

March 18, 2019

Jack Moore

1. Within each grade, there are dozens of other grades

If you use C2 Maple in your shop, you probably know that “C2 Maple” can mean a lot of things. Some C2 Maple Is whole piece face, some is rotary spliced; some C2 Maple has nice white faces, while some is full of mineral; some C2 has open knots on the back, some are perfectly clear. While you can usually get a pretty good idea of what a panel will look like by the described grade, relying on just this grade can lead to you receiving an unsuitable product.

Within each specie and grade, there are dozens of veneer options that the distributor specs out when ordering. These options answer a lot of questions for the manufacturer and are what ultimately determine the quality and usability of the sheet your purchasing. Lower cost panels of the same grade are cheaper because they have cheaper specs, while higher cost panels have higher-cost specs and higher usability. A little bit of research and effort can go a long way in helping you understand and narrow down what specs are going to get you what you need in a sheet of hardwood plywood, especially if you hope to avoid splices, mineral, knots or other defects commonly found in lower-grade panels.

Our goal at Moore Newton is to build lasting relationships with our customers through higher-quality products that make our customer’s jobs easier and add value to their finished products. We aim to respond to our customer’s needs and focus on developing products that provide them with the ideal balance of quality and cost. Our products are manufactured with the ideal grades and specs for their most popular applications, meaning you can spend less time trying to figure out HPVA/ANSI grading rules and cutting around knots, and more time selling, designing, and building.

2. Brand names make a difference

From the car you drive to the tools you use, you probably have come to trust certain brands more than others. Companies that put out reliable products become well known and successful as more and more people grow to trust and rely on these brands. Just like your tools, reliable materials make a difference.  

Well-regarded brands such as Purebond® or ApplePly® give you more control over the quality of your hardwood plywood. These brands are known for better components, quality construction and reliability. This higher quality translates to a higher yield, a more efficient shop, and better-looking cabinets. Just like lower-end tools, lower-end plywood brands might work for some applications but are less than ideal for high-end custom cabinetry.

Moore Newton is the only Northern California distributor that stocks both Columbia Forest Products (Purebond®) and States Industries (ApplePly®), two of the biggest names in hardwood plywood. There is a reason these brands are spec’d by more designers and architects than any other brands—because the quality and appearance standards are a step above the rest, and their commitment to using formaldehyde-free glues make them ideal for green projects where indoor air quality is a concern.

3. There’s a Different Product for Every Application

Have you ever struggled with a project because you didn’t have the right tool or equipment to complete a task efficiently? You probably went out and bought that tool designed for the task you needed to complete and saved yourself hours of painstaking work. While you’ve found countless tools, jigs and pieces of equipment over the years to make your shop run smoother, you might be forgetting about one very important tool that could make your shop more efficient and profitable—your hardwood plywood distributor’s inventory.

Leading manufacturers have responded to demand for more application-specific products with a wide array of panels designed to be flatter, smoother, easier to work with, or more stable than ever before. If you’re struggling to get the desired appearance or performance out of your hardwood plywood, researching new products to use that are better suited for your application could help increase your yield, save you time, and add value to your finished product. From calibrated 2-step cores that eliminate thickness variation to highly-consistent surfaces that eliminate prep-work for painting, there are dozens of panel products that can eliminate headaches and increase profits.  

By working with the biggest names in hardwood plywood, we’re able to offer the latest plywood and composite technologies that help our customers decrease time in the shop and increase the quality of their cabinets. With dozens of grade, core, and specialty options in a wide array of species and dimensions, our specialized inventory with multiple products for every application could be a useful addition to your strategy.  Check out our products specifications page to see If there’s something that can help you improve your workflow or contact us if there’s a specific problem you’re having that we might be able to help with.

4. No two hardwood dealers sell the same panel

Every cabinet shop has faced this dilemma at one point or another—what is the lowest price point I can pay for my materials without sacrificing quality? There is a fine line between competitive materials costs and quality suitable for custom cabinetry. The hardwood market is competitive, and a lower cost will typically equate with a lower grade or a lower quality product. How do you find the price point that is right for you?  

No two distributors sell the same panel. Every hardwood plywood distributor buys from their own mix of manufacturers and stocks their own mix of proprietary grades. Some distributors are focused more on cost and stock plywood from a handful of commodity manufacturers.  Moore Newton focuses on higher grade products from recognized manufacturers; we aim to provide a quality product at a competitive cost, and not just a low cost.

When we spec out our plywood truckloads, we tend to upgrade rather than downgrade. These small improvements can often make a noticeable difference in your shop’s efficiency, your yield, and in the quality of your cabinetry. With hundreds of higher-grade products from sought after manufacturers such as Columbia Forest Products, States Industries, and Mount Baker, we consider our inventory second to none and want our customers to say the same.

5. Sometimes you can get your plywood for half the price

Rent, labor, and taxes are at an all-time high, and keeping your expenses under control is key to maintaining profits. The last thing you want to do is buy a $130 sheet of A1 plywood when you’re only going to end up using a third of it. Shop-grade plywood is a great way to keep your materials costs low when you have smaller cutting sizes or less-exposed applications.

A Shop-grade panel is a sheet of plywood that is 80% or more usable, with factory damage or defect preventing it from meeting the grade it was manufactured as. Manufacturers often liquidate these shop-grade products below their manufacturing costs, meaning that end users can see savings of 15%-40% when compared to the going rate of an on-grade product. While shop-grade products will have some factory damage or defect and won’t be as attractive as an on-grade panel, many shops find notable savings by using shop-grade panels when they can.  

Moore Newton stocks a wide array of shop-grade panels in all sought-after species and dimensions. While our standard on-grade inventory is focused on higher-quality, higher-grade products to meet the quality standards of our discerning customers, our scale and purchasing power allows us to be just as competitive as any other distributor, and sometimes more so with our wide selection of shop-grade plywood being sold below manufacturing costs. Next time you’re putting together your materials list, consider trying out a shop-grade panel for a less-exposed application to see if shop-grade panels are a good fit for you.


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