A word of warning about HD cab ply

I just returned from the house of a fellow carpentero that used a new product they had at HD. It was a cab ply material that came from Ecuador. He showed me some of it, and it looked completely without any sign of character, and was so soft that it easily scratched with a fingernail. The facings were without blemish, but they were obviously cut from some super soft wood that rode easily on the rotary cutters.
He told me he bought it because it was cheap, and was going to be used for shelving in a linen closet. How much abrasion did he need to worry about from folded towels? Three coats of paint should have done all he needed.
But.... a coat of paint proved that wrong. After a good coat of latex, the grain swelled to the point it looked like plywood that had been left outside for a couple of months. It raised up so high I thought he got a nice piece of utility grade and painted it, not "cab ply".
He wound up waiting a day for the paint to harden and sanded it all down and started over again on the finishing. The grain rose again (!!!) but not as much. One more day to dry, then sand, then recoat.
If you see it, don't buy it. It is pure crap for its intended use, and I have no doubt many a pro and DIY guy will rue the day they bought this crap. It more than doubles the work to use junk like this for anything (except maybe fire starter).
I have had more than one philosophical discussion about hitting the DIY price point for the consumer with HD managers, but when you pay anything for garbage, you simply get screwed, regardless of the price paid. Shame on HD. The should at least give you a choice between their normal lousy stuff and just outright junk.
The reason my buddy bought this at HD was because our normal supplier is about 15 miles from his house, and his old 3/4 ton hoopy gets about 8 mpg on a good day. He was thinking that the convenience would be offset by the gas savings.
And all he wanted to do was to keep the wife off his back by throwing in a few shelves over a couple of evenings.
Robert
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Not only are the poor, poor and helpless, from poor, poor countries, immigrating to here, but they are indirectly bringing their shanty town construction methods with them, also. Maybe, you could put some recycled corrugated tin over the ply. Works for them.
Sonny
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On 7/13/2011 2:35 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
> latex, the grain swelled to the point it looked like plywood that had > been left outside for a couple of months. It raised up so high I > thought he got a nice piece of utility grade and painted it, not "cab > ply".
Did it look like this?:
https://picasaweb.google.com/karlcaillouet/EWoodShopRetrofit2011#5612643166724098738
"On sale" at HD a couple of months back for the price in the photo, it did not exhibit any of the problems your friend noted, but the price puts it suspiciously in the same genre. If I recall, the word "cabinet" was indeed used on the sign above the rack.
As you know, I've literally bought truckloads of plywood and sheet goods and have learned to be a pretty good judge of the product. I checked this stuff out very closely before I loaded it up ... not the best plywood I've ever bought at that price, but far from the worst, and that was years ago (and it fit the criteria for this particular application - "Inexpensive").
AAMOF, I wouldn't have been surprised to find more voids than usual, but that turned out to not be the case with very few, if any, and the stuff, while low grade, turned out to fit the bill.
As I've mentioned beaucoup times here, it seems ALL plywood varies from batch to batch these days, even the pricey stuff from lumber yards and boutique wood dealers.
It's why, when I purchase for a project, we shop around, examine the stuff closely, and when when we finally do buy, buy more (20% +) than needed _from the same rack/batch_ to insure not running out.
Besides the face veneer, one of the biggest problems is thickness where differences will kill you when making cabinet boxes.
On the last kitchen, while I didn't run out of the originally purchased imported A-1 Birch, I did purchase additional stock from the same dealer/same rack about two months later, when the original stock was running low, and, when compared to the original purchase, the new stuff turned out to be a noticeably different shade, was a skosh over 1/32" thinner, and had more voids ... which made it totally unsuitable for cabinet sides and floors on this project (we used it for non critical cabinet parts like shelves, dividers, tack stips, etc. and did not mix it).
The above was bought at one of the most respected hardwood, hardwood products dealers in this area, was the same price and same grade .. today, you pay's your money and takes your chances.
Unfortunately, in this culture, the same thing your friend found is just as liable to happen anywhere, not just the Borg's.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
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I believe that is the stuff. It sure looks like it from the photo. The tip off is that there is no figure to the grain and the consistency of the color.

That is certainly true. A couple of years ago I bought some beautiful birch to make a couple of quick "better than utility" cabinets to store excess kitchen stuff in a garage. The client wanted better than a the particle board pre-made stuff, but not full on custom stuff like you and Leon do. A carcass, shelves, and a door made to fit the space over their chest freezer. No problem.
I went to the Borg to see what they had. Years before, I had bought some birch plywood that was quite nice, but had a few voids. The grain, figure and overall quality made up for the voids, and it worked well. It was from Chile, so there is really no way of knowing what kind of wood it was. I should have bought a shop full as it was about $25 - $26 a sheet, and at the time my hardwood/cabinet supply company here was at +/- $52 for a sheet of their premium cabinet grade birch. While it didn't mimic any of the wood grains we see in cabinet making, it worked as well and finished as well, too. So a home run.
Fast forward. Bought some unmarked stuff about a year ago from HD, just one sheet, and it looked like birch, but didn't act like it. The veneer was thin and brittle and it chipped to hell and back when I cut it. It had a strange pee yellow glue that was in the voids and gave off a strange odor when I cut it. Probably formaldehyde or something nasty. I was thinking that this stuff might have come from China. It was awful, and I wound up using it for backing bars and structure work, and just went down and bought a sheet from the hardwood guys.
To drive home your point (and my agreement with same), the stuff I got from them wasn't much better at all and was more than double in price. So I made a nasty phone call to Gary (my "guy") after using it and asked him if this was the stuff they used to band the good plywood (you know, dunnage) for shipping. Man, was he tired of hearing from contractors and cabinet guys about that plywood. He gave as good as he got.
Later, he told me that their buyers bought all of this stuff in auction style lots these days, based on supplied samples. No longer do they order from a mill or manufacturer for most of their raw plywood; they buy a container that is sent to a distribution point, then sent to the local guys. It can *literallly* come from anywhere. With that in mind, no one sees the product until it is actually opened here locally. It is covered, banded, and strapped, then shipped from the point of origin. So Gary doesn't really know any more than I do about what he is going to get.
They apparently buy it by appearance, not wood type (unless specified) now. So he has "appearance grade" which is the HD stuff, that has no blemishes or "footballs" on one side. We knew this at one time as stain grade. Wood unknown. Properties of wood, unknown. Can be hardwood or soft, so when you use it you have to buy all you need as chances of matching it again are very small if you are staining/dying the wood.
His second line is "utility cabinet grade". We used to know this as paint grade, and it has a couple of footballs on one side, maybe on both. But it is also made of mystery wood as well. Sometimes it is hardwood faced, sometimes soft.
It is bad enough for them at the hardwood/cabinet distributor that they now have a "no return" policy. If plywood delaminates, they will take it back. If a board face cracks (as In a massive check) for more than 25% of its length, they will replace it. Otherwise, you buy it, it's yours.
And this is actually one of the reasons (along with others) I no longer want to build cabinets for clients. A one or two off is fine, but not a kitchen like you do. Back in the 70s, I could calibrate my framing square from a sheet of cabinet grade material. It was so expensive to us that we used every tiny scrap, and literally made the factor saw cuts the side that face the wall. We never squared anything! But as long as 15 years ago, I bought some American cabinet grade plywood and did the same thing; the sheets were about 3/8" out of square, and I didn't check it before laying out and cutting. The good news is that I was familiar with the layout the second time I set up to cut, and the bad news is.... well, you know.
Now River City cabinets deals with that, not me. They deal with scratched faces, polishes (what I called the burnished soft face that has been pressed down hard when sliding across something smooth), chips, plywood you have to square carefully before using, splinters, and appearance inconsistencies. I just hang 'em and spray 'em. Besides, he can build them for less than I do, and the quality is good. I can fix just about anything that slips by him.
I guess the reason I posted that last night was that I was really surprised at how low the quality had sunk on this type of product (in reality, HD probably doesn't even know) and how much extra work this product requires. In a way, I feel sorry for the DIY guys that want to do some nice things around their house. With this kind of material, you don't stand much of a chance. But it was fair warning for amateur and pro alike.
Robert
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On 7/13/11 1:32 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I had a post about this a while back. Now when I buy ply from my hardwood guy, I check every sheet. They try to quick pitch me and get it in the van before I do it, but I don't let them. I won't get burned again.
Of course, this is the same place that measures for board feet at the widest part of the board, not the narrowest..... and they measure the entire length of a board that has an 8" split on one end. This is all planed and edged stuff, btw.
Thanks for all that other info, too... good stuff to find out.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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Nope -- that's the "good stuff" -- from Chile.
The Ecuadoran stuff is almost without grain pattern, sort of a step up from balsa.
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In article

Why would you use emulsion paint, usually used for painting walls, to paint shelves, when proper gloss paint would be more usual?
--
Stuart Winsor

Midland RISC OS show - Sat July 9th 2011
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Assuming this is an honest question and not a troll, here are the reasons.
- My buddy is good at a lot of things. Painting isn't one of them. He feels more confident with latex paint
- These shelves are 2' X 4' and have a large area to paint. Oil base in our South Texas heat is difficult to control due to drying edges. Yesterday it was 103 F, so figure the dry time/difficulty based on your own experience when applying solvent based finishes in extreme heat
- He does not own any boar brushes to apply gloss (which I assume you are using as a metaphor for alkyd based enamels) nor does he want the extra cleaning hassle, including the additional purchase and storage of cleaning solvents
- The fumes will outgas into the house for a week or two after painting. He lives in a duplex, with his 80 year old mother fighting COPD on one side, and he has his two year old son and stay at home wife on his side. The fumes would be atrocious when painting in his garage, and they will go right in the house. Then there is the lingering smell
- Until this soiree, NEITHER OF US HAS HAD A PROBLEM PUTTING A COAT OF LATEX ON "cab ply". He worked for me for about 8 years, and he has primed many a board, sheet of plywood, wall, stick of trim, etc., for me. His personal experiences gleaned over a period of years in priming a cabinet grade piece of material led him to believe that he was on safe ground. So with decades of experience from both of us on this issue, it isn't a lack of experience, being lazy, being stupid, or trying to cut a corner. It was business as usual that wasn't
- Due to health/legal issues (real or imagined), we are all moving away from anything to do with solvent based finishes. As much as I hate to give them up, the exposure to our ever-ready litigation teams is too much to consider. By habit, it is better to provide the 85% finish quality latex provides than the 100% alkyd based gives
- Inside a linen closet, big furry towels, washclothes, winter blankets, and a few sweaters simply don't require the abrasion resistance provided by a quality alkyd. A good quality, hard, semi gloss latex enamel will serve well for many, many years. In the upper end of enamels, while the alkyds have gotten softer (until you get to true industrial rated coatings) the latex enamels have become much harder. Service life of a latex enamel properly applied is excellent
Hope that clears things up.
Robert
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In article

No it's not a Troll

Yup.
My gloss painting isn't much good either, my wife does it when required.
Her father trained as a "coach finisher", back in the days when car bodies were often made of wood like coaches used to be - veneering, varnishing painting - he taught her to paint.
I like water based paint myself because cleaning is much easier but, as you have found out, water can affect some materials.
--
Stuart Winsor

Midland RISC OS show - Sat July 9th 2011
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I would consider using shellac as a primer to any water based paint. Zinser sealcoat for instance. then prime/paint over that. Solves the water based problem of raising the grain.
On 7/13/2011 5:27 PM, Stuart wrote:

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On Wed, 13 Jul 2011 00:35:27 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Crap! Make sure he reviews it on the HD website. Both HD and potential future buyers need to know how bad it is.
Did he return it, perchance?

Did this happen with paint or primer, or both?

Virtue is its own punishment. Or something like that. Oh, "No good deed goes unpunished." That's the one.
-- Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
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wrote:

I remember looking into what wood was used for that sort of plywood as I'd never seen anything like it. It's some South American wood that grows ridiculously fast and has very little grain and an almost cream color. Can't remember the name.
The stuff has it's place. Painting seems to have been the biggest problem for your buddy, as it was the first time I used some. I ran into the super-swollen grain problem, so I used shellac sanding sealer, and then there was no problem afterwards, and you can sand the stuff in half an hour. The latex paint was the problem, not the wood.
R
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Never indicated, hinted, or thought it was anything else. A quick read of the header will give you a tremendous clue as to my first suspect in the problem.
Of course, the post would do the same.
Robert
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wrote:

When you wrote "If you see it, don't buy it. It is pure crap for its intended use, and I have no doubt many a pro and DIY guy will rue the day they bought this crap. It more than doubles the work to use junk like this for anything (except maybe fire starter). " I read that to be taking issue with the material and not the finishing technique.
R
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I use lacquer high build sanding sealer on all types of wood before I paint it. Dries fast and sands smooth. Some times I do 2 coats and sanding. Finish is nice. WW
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On Thursday, 14 July 2011 08:59:46 UTC+10, WW wrote:

Amen to that. IMHO, any modern cheap plywood needs sanding sealer and/or non-water based paint. Been a long time since I lsat saw plywood that won't crumble in the presence of any humidity. Other than the one sold for marine use, which is also the most expensive.
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On 7/13/11 10:55 PM, Noons wrote:

Might be reason enough to buy the pre-finished stuff. Could save some time on sealing it.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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RE: Subject
I'm reminded of a comment attributed to John Ruskin:
"Only the seller knows the true value of what is being sold", or something close to it.
Lew
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On 2011-07-13 03:35:27 -0400, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Client spec'd this (price, price, price...) for a small job. I don't know what the heck the wood was -- or perhaps it was the glue -- but this stuff gave me a BLINDING headache for a day-and-a-half and left me feeling flu-ish for several days after.
Nevermind that it was soft and soaked up primer... howsomever, the matte black finish coat looked pretty good.
The client was happy and paid on delivery, so there's that.
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wrote:

Put all the pieces in the truck and take them back to HD and demand a refund - if folks accpet such crap, they will continue to sell it. If we refuse to pay for it they will find another supplier.
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