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Thread: Phenolic Faced Plywood problem

  1. #1

    Phenolic Faced Plywood problem

    Yesterday I received my 2nd shipment of Phenolic Faced Plywood from Woodcraft. The 3/4" - 24" x 48" piece was $60.

    The first shipment is going back, manufacturing defect plus poor packing.

    Now this piece is much better, but I was under the impression that this was the best for a router table. It would be a smooth finish and have veneer that would hold up. All across the board are small bumps. Not that much but enough where you can feel and see it. If I sand I then will loss the finish.

    I can buy a 4 x 8 Birch from Home Depot or Lowes that has a much better surface.

    Am I missing something about this product, is this good enough for a router table?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    San Antonio TX
    sned it back as well, WC is gonna rip you off for phenolic faced can get a full 4x8 sheet at whitecap for around the same price...and the sheets I saw in the woodcraft in Tucson, the phenolic was so thin it almost looked like it was painted on. I would get ply locally, paint it and put a coat or 2 of poly on it and you would be just as well off, or better imho.
    That which does not kill you will likely raise your insurance premiums.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Mt. Pleasant, MI
    Can't comment on that stuff but it doesn't seem right.

    FWIW, get some baltic birch, laminate both faces with formica and move along. Instead of $7.50 a sq foot you are looking at about $5 and as good or better product.

    For best results, try not to do anything stupid.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum - Vegetius De Rei Militari III (paraphrased)

    "So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause." - Padmé Amidala "Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith"

  4. #4

    Saw some yesterday!

    I was in WC yesterday and not one of the pieces I saw was flat. All had considerable bow to them. Could be because they were leaning on edge. I'd think stacking them flat would be better. It's just a gut feeling I have but it seems some surfaces are so slick that you could feed into the cutter with a bit too much ease instead of taking your time and letting the cutter do its job. I have a JessEm RT but the surface seems nowhere near as slippery.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Washington, NC
    Remember, that phenolic ply has a very thin coating and it was designed for use in concrete forms, not for smooth table tops. I second the motion for ply or even MDF (depending on your use) laminated on both sides with high a pressure laminate like Formica. I get cheap or free laminate off-cuts from a local countertop manufacturer.

  6. #6
    The phenolic ply on my Woodpecker DP table is fine. What we don't know is what effort they may have to go through to select the pieces they use. The stuff you are showing sounds very much like the phenolic ply that is used for concrete forms and a perfect surface is not in the design criteria.

    I have not seen WC phenolic ply but others I have seen in commercial products seem OK. Maybe it is the same stuff and the manufacturing process involves a reasonable amount of spoil. Maybe, like so many other 'common' products, there are varying degrees made by the same folks based on required specs(?).

    At any rate, I have run a melamine covered table for a few years with only a few dings here and there at the edges where there are slots through the surface. H.P. laminate would be superior to this but, many folks get by with just MDF treated with BLO and Johnson's paste wax. I have a few work surfaces of this type and all wear extremely well. They are not surfaces that I slide stuff across on a regular basis but, I don't baby them either.
    Happy family, pale applause, each to his revolving doors.

  7. #7
    I didn't care for the price of the phenolic stuff when I was building my router table, so I opted for two layers of 3/4" MDF laminated together and formica top and bottom to keep it balanced. It is super tough and has stayed nice and flat.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Tampa, FL
    Get some SOLID phenolic. Fairly expensive, but can be used for a myriad of things in the shop. I think i got mine from usplastic.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Madison, WI
    Philip, Id say you got a bad batch...
    The phenolic faced ply at my local Woodcraft has always been pretty good, with no dings/bumps/warping. The phenolic face didnt seem terribly thin, but not overly thick either...
    That said I think it is a bit too expensive, and for future projects I plan on going with the plywood w/laminate method mentioned above .

    As a followup: when you guys are making formica laminated ply, is it necessary to laminate both faces?
    Proud to Hate Michigan Athletics Since 1981

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Atlanta , Ga.
    Another for formica both sides of either ply or MDF as it has been my choice for years. I have looked at phonelic but consider the price way beyond what I am willing to pay to get results just as suitable with a cheaper bottom line.


  11. #11

    2nd return

    First I'll say that Woodcraft customer service is great! they answer right away and you actually get to speak to a human!

    So I'm having this one returned too. I got free shipping and the cost of the 2 returns is going to hurt them but then they should sell a better quality. Even if the surface was smooth the surface cosmetically looks terrible, it look like a preschooler painted the surface!

    I'll look in to the Formica, for now I'll get started on the cabinet for my router table.


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Hanko View Post
    As a followup: when you guys are making formica laminated ply, is it necessary to laminate both faces?
    From my experience, yes. With formica on only one face, the panel is not "balanced". With it on both the top and bottom, it is. Imbalance isn't an issue on kitchen counters, but slight flatness issues are a non-issue on them, whereas it would be catastrophic on a router table. I did the top, sides, and bottom of mine in white formica and it has stayed nice and flat.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Mid Missouri (Brazito/Henley)
    Formica Rulez! Forget the phenolic stuff! Seems to be substandard and overpriced!

    I brace everything *FLAT* for a router table. I do not depend on the slab to remain flat. I actually used old bed rail angle (spring steel) to brace the table lengthwise and on edges!! Thusly, I have laminated only the top of my TS router wing and had good results for lotsa years!

    If you have your doubts, Laminate both sides. Maybe you can get a deep discount on some *flamingo-colored* lam for the underside.

    Should there be any variation in your *top* just orient any bow to the top of the table. Better to have a slight crown than a slight dish at the center.
    Last edited by Chip Lindley; 12-24-2008 at 3:56 AM.
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

  14. #14
    Yes, if there is a whitecap near you, around $50 for a 4x8 sheet. Only problem is my whitecap only has black, but for that price, I like black!

  15. Here in Cincinnati I can get a full (60" x 60") sheet of 18mm-3/4" baltic birch for $2.00-$3.00 more than what Woodcraft sells a 30" x 48" piece of 18mm-3/4" baltic birch. Same for other sizes, plus sizes they don't sell. Actually, I think the stuff I'm getting is actually finnish birch. I'd cut 2 pieces of 12mm-1/2" baltic birch and laminate them together then cover that with formica for a router table top. The extra 1/4" thickness will be worth it.

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