Hardwood Plywood Specifications

The wide array of veneer, grade, core and finishing options that go into a sheet of plywood offer endless possibilities. Understanding the various grades and components used in hardwood plywood construction allows you to use this wide selection of products to your advantage.

Standard Cores

Every application requires a certain core specification. Moore Newton stocks the most popular species in veneer, combination, and engineered cores.

  • Veneer Cores are composed of multiple layers of softwood plies laid in opposing directions to create stability and strength. Veneer core panels offer the best screw-holding and strength properties, but will demonstrate more variation in flatness and the smoothness of the decorative veneers as well as greater thickness variation tolerance. The lower cost and strength of veneer core panels make them the ideal panel for cabinet boxes and interiors.
  • Combination Cores contain softwood plies for the inner plies and replace the outer plies with a layer of MDF. Combination cores offer the strength and screw-holding properties of a veneer core panel, but provide the flatness, stability, and smoothness of an engineered core panel. Combination cores are the most commonly used core option in finish-grade decorative plywood and higher-end paint grade plywood.
  • Engineered Cores are comprised solely of either MDF or Particleboard. While strength is reduced, engineered cores are the most consistent core, with near-perfect thickness tolerances and the highest level of stability, making them the ideal choice for door and panel applications that do not require substantial strength.

Specialty Cores

  • Multiply Cores, such as ApplePly from States and EuroPly Plus from Columbia, are comprised of 1/16″ solid Birch veneers free of voids. Multiply cores are remarkably stable, smooth, strong, and consistent. They are primarily used in applications that will display an exposed plywood edge, a common design found in many modern and high-end applications. Moore Newton is the only company in Northern California that can offer both ApplePly from States and EuroPly Plus from Columbia.
  • Calibrated Cores,or two-step cores, were designed to meet the needs of panel shops requiring very tight thickness variation tolerances. Moore Newton offers a wide selection of calibrated panels which are usually sanded to 19.5MM, allowing us to provide the most true and consistent 3/4″ plywood panel on the market.
  • MPX Core from Columbia Forest Products is the latest advancement in veneer core plywood. Veneer core panels comprised solely of softwood plies often demonstrate “telegraphing”, or waviness in the surface of the decorative veneer that create an uneven appearance. Columbia’s MPX core eliminates this problem by introducing a sanded Poplar cross band below the decorative veneer, reducing telegraphing and creating the smoothest and most consistent veneer core panel on the market today.

Pre-finished Panels

Moore Newton stocks clear low-gloss pre-finished plywood in Maple, Cherry, Walnut, White Oak and Mahogany. Our wide selection of dimensions, grades, and core options in pre-finished panels allow us to provide every panel needed in custom cabinet and closet construction next-day.

Pre-finished panels not only save time and money in cabinet construction–they eliminate the environmental impacts of finishing yourself. Our prefinished panels, such as States Industries Nova,are finished with a modified epoxy acrylate that is rolled and cured instantly with ultraviolet light.This process creates no airborne emissions or release of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.

UV finishes are the highest ranking finishes in terms of durability and strength, making prefinished plywood an ideal choice for cabinet and closet construction.


Moore Newton offers a wide selection of decorative veneer grades in the most popular species of hardwood plywood. This selection allows us to provide the best panel for any given application at the best price.

Hardwood plywood is graded with letter grades on the face veneer, and number grades for the back.

  • AA1 and A1 are the highest grade stock panels available. A1 panels are intended for the most visible and important components of a project.
  • B1 panels are slightly less perfect and consistent than A1 panels for components that are less visible or projects that do not require a perfect panel
  • C2 and C4 plywood is how most paint-grade and prefinished panels are graded. C2 panels are intended for cabinet interiors or paint-grade components that allow for more defect and variation. A C2 panel will not have the aesthetic beauty of an A1 panel, but is perfectly suitable and more cost-effective for less-visible applications.
  • Shop or fall-down panels can be A1 or C2 panels that contain some sort of imperfection that prevents them from meeting the grade they were originally manufactured as. Up to 15% of a unit of hardwood plywood will be "shop" grade, meaning these sheets developed minor factory defect during manufacturing. While they are a lower grade, these panels are factored into the cost of the unit and are part of buying and using hardwood plywood. 

Veneer Cuts

Decorative veneers are cut in a certain fashion to create a certain appearance or reduce cost and waste.

  • Rotary Cut veneers are the most cost effective decorative veneer, commonly used in paint-grade and pre-finished panels. Rotary cut veneers are comprised of one continuous strip of veneer, peeled off of a log being rotated to develop the highest yield from a log available.
  • Plain-Sliced veneers are the most common veneer found in A1 and B1 panels for finish grade applications. Plain Sliced veneers emulate the appearance of solid lumber by being cut in the same fashion as flat-sawn lumber, and then seamed together
  • Rift and Quarter-sawn veneers are produced from a log that is cut into quarters and sawn at a certain angle to create a straight-grain appearance. Quarter-sawn Walnut and Rift-sawn White Oak are two of the most commonly specified veneers in high-end modern and contemporary products for their consistent and uniform appearance.

Veneer Matches

Veneers are seamed together in a certain matching pattern to create a certain appearance.

  • Book Matched veneers are comprised of flitches that are flipped over at each seam, creating the appearance of each flitch being mirrored with the flitch next to it, like the pages of a book.
  • Slip Matched veneers contain flitches that are all left facing the same direction. This is commonly used in rift and quarter-sawn panels to prevent the “barber-pole” effect and create a more uniform and straight-grain appearance.
  • Random Matched veneers are purposely shuffled and juxtaposed to emulate the appearance of varying lumber boards glued together. Random matched veneers are most common in rustic or knotty panels in which inconsistency and variation is the intended appearance.

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