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Thread: Laminating solid wood to plywood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Foster City, CA
    Posts
    25

    Laminating solid wood to plywood

    I'm in the process of building a hanging tool cabinet and I wanted to dress-up the small pocket drawers at the bottom of the cabinet.

    I purchased a nice board of bird's eye maple and I was going to use the entire 3/4" thickness for the front of the drawers. However, being the cheap guy that I am, I wondered whether it would be okay to resaw the board down to a thickness of 1/8"-1/4", and laminate it to a piece of 1/2" Baltic Birch.

    Should I be concerned about the lamination failing? I live in Northern CA, so we don't get wide swings in temps or humidity.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  2. #2
    I would keep your lamination closer to 1/8", or even 3/32" if you want to minimize the chance of wood movement. Other than that, what you are proposing is a common practice and 1/2" baltic birch is an excellent substrate.

    Tradition would tell you to laminate the substrate on both sides to keep it balanced. The back side does not need to be the same as the front (i.e. a show wood), you can use any hardwood you like.
    However, you mentioned that the drawers are small so if it were me, I'd have no problem omitting the back veneer.
    Especially if it were an integral drawer front that would be supported by the two drawer sides.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Phoenix AZ
    Posts
    511
    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    I would keep your lamination closer to 1/8", or even 3/32" if you want to minimize the chance of wood movement. Other than that, what you are proposing is a common practice and 1/2" baltic birch is an excellent substrate.

    Tradition would tell you to laminate the substrate on both sides to keep it balanced. The back side does not need to be the same as the front (i.e. a show wood), you can use any hardwood you like.
    However, you mentioned that the drawers are small so if it were me, I'd have no problem omitting the back veneer.
    Especially if it were an integral drawer front that would be supported by the two drawer sides.
    +1 on what Edwin said.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Foster City, CA
    Posts
    25
    Thanks Edwin.

  5. #5
    We find that veneers thicker than ⅛" end up overpowering the substrate and ripping the face of as it moves. Also, both sides need to be veneered or it will cup.

  6. #6
    Over 10 years ago, I built jewelry boxes out of figured maple. The plans called for 1/2 thickness so I resawed 3/4 boards on the table saw leaving about 1/8 inch extra. That got laminated to plain maple to make two more jewelry boxes for the grandmothers (first two were for my wife and daughter). All the ladies were happy.

    Long way of saying laminating to solid wood, especially of the same type, is safer.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Posts
    1,619
    I will def feel comfortable veneering the BB plywood. As others said you will be better off at around 1/8" to 3/32" thickness and this should stretch your wood out further. I also would be fine with not veneering the other side of the baltic if it is supported by drawer sides. I will say that the front may warp a bit if you veneer it before the drawer is put together and then do the drawer joinery. I would probably build the drawer then laminate the veneer to the face to help keep it from warping due to the lack of veneer on the back side. Otherwise I would just veneer a secondary wood to the back side. Baltic Birch makes a great substrate for veneer work.

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