Home Depot Oak Ply - Shame on me.

I just finished some cabinets in our basement for my wife's sewing room. I have had void problems with HD Oak ply in the past but was lured into buying a couple of sheets by the $20 difference/sheet (tight a**ed Irishman).
The plywood worked well and I was pleased to find very few voids. Finishing has turned into a problem. All surfaces were sanded lightly using 220. It stained well, with even color, but I noticed the grain came up a little - more than I have ever experienced while staining Oak plywood. The first coat of poly raised the grain so much I went back and looked in my finish can (Minwax brush on poly) to make sure there was no contamination. I also finished a couple of shelves in the garage with Minwax wipe-on which has never given me a problem - same result. Even after sanding, the second coat of wipe-on on the shelves is very rough.
This broke me - I'll never buy hardwood ply from HD again. Is anyone else having similar problems with HD or other sources?
RonB
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wrote:

It's not uncommon for sheet goods, especially plywood to raise the grain. One practice I often employ is to spray a light mist of water on unfinished plywood to raise the grain. I sand that down lightly and then apply my stain or paint or whatever coating I prefer.
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I have used pre-stain conditioner a few times to raise the grain a bit and then sand. But this time it looked like a gravel road.
Well, OK - a slight exaggeration ;o)
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Ron - even though I do finishing as part of my professional routine, I find that the differences in veneers, sources of veneers, outgassing from the underlying glues, and the mystery woods they use to clad the core make it a challenge even with good technique. It almost seems like it doesn't matter where the plywood comes from or what name is stamped on it.
I hate to add a step, but I think it is worthwhile. My customers won't pay for something they think is substandard ( I wouldn't either !! ) so I need to get it right.
I am a big proponent of NOT sanding beyond 220, and more of a fan of concentrating on technique. But desperate materials require desperate measures.
- **Lightly** sand to 320. While I have never seen the need to this point to do so (and been critical of those that piss away the time because they don't want to start finishing), I have found success using 320 with the softer veneers of unknown woods used to make cab ply. 320 generally smooths the older hardwoods too much to provide great traction, but we can counteract that
- Use a conditioner to lightly treat the wood before coloring
- Color the wood with oil or solvent based colors, NOT water based, and allow to dry completely
- Apply a very thin (but thick enough to cover with no voids) coat of dewaxed shellac or as available sanding sealer. This is NOT a sanding coat, but builds a bondable substrate. I cut the Bullseye sanding sealer down by as much as 50% and simply spray it on
- Carefully sand any nibs, NOT the whole piece. Wipe the sandpaper across it if you get ripple, but do not sand industriously as your surface should be smooth before you start this process
- Apply your top coat of your finish as normal
I have tried and tried to use water borne finishes, and while they are fine in some cases, they aren't as reliable as the solvent based finishes. This is not a failure of the product as much as it is the challenges presented by the material to be finished.
I want repeatability. While some of the waterborne finishes are outstanding (ML Campbell, Sherwin Williams, Varathane, etc.) I don't find them to be as forgiving as solvent based. And the big selling point to using latex is the fact that it is easier to cleanup and has less fumes. That is total bullshit. While they *might* expulse less gasses, they gasses they do (formaldehyde, ammonias, etc.) are just as dangerous as any solvent. Since I wear a mask and gloves for most of my finishing (everyone should) I figure since I am already uncomfortable, I don't need to do it twice.
Good luck with your project. And as always, practice on a scrap, not your project.
Robert
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In typed:

Hi ron,
Blamng HD isn't cool because you need to blame the source; which could be one of many and found at many other POS also. Repeatability you'll seldom find even among the same batches, so testing on throw-away scraps can be important IMO, but not 100% relable even then. You just have to develop methods that work across a broad range and work on them. I guess the only really useful thing I can say is to stick to non-water-based products - it seems to go a lot better ALL the time for me. OTOH I haven't used a lot of the "new" plywood lately so there could be more changes to it I'm not aware of.
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On 10/22/2011 3:01 PM, RonB wrote:

That is pretty much normal results if you are using a water based product. That is typically not a problem with oil based.
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Baloney!
Just read some of the dozens of complaints here over the last few years about grain arising problems with any kind of stain.
Maybe speak from some real experience instead of just trolling.
---------- "Leon" wrote in message
That is pretty much normal results if you are using a water based product. That is typically not a problem with oil based.
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Ron,
I refer to plywood at the big box stores as "junk ply". What Lowes sells as "cabinet grade" is not fit to enter my shop. I long ago found that there is a big difference in quality between the "junk ply" and what is sold as cabinet grade ply at the local lumber yard. I pay more, but I get quality stuff and service. In one instance I had some de-amination occuring while I cut the stuff to size. I showed a piece to my supplier. He sent a truck to pick up the remainder of the stuff and bring new ply from a different batch. The old stuff went back to the manufacturer. All of this was accompanied by copius (sp) apologies and regrets.
I use all water based products now and have had no problems with "water." The easiest method for me is to spray on water based dyes (wipe a bit if it does not go on evenly), let it dry, spray on a coat of Hydrocote Resistane Plus, sand a bit and then follow up with more Resistane Plus. Rub out if you want a different level of smoothness or gloss.
I'm and amateur and the latest laws on using volatile lacquers and finishes do not apply to me, but all professionals using more that a few gallons a week are supposed to (must) switch to water based products to satisfy the latest laws. We all might as well get started and say goodbye (sniff) to our favorite solvent based lacquers and other finishes. The handwriting is on the wall.
my $.02 cents
Len
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Sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n- sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n- sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n- sand.
Finally got the rough raised grained surfaces halfway "smooth" (no grain fibers sticking up through the surface of the finish). Applied coat number two yesterday afternoon, but still some rough and uneven areas this morning.
Sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n-sand-n- sand-n-sand
Applied third coat this morning and wet surface looks good so far. Might have to work out a few small bubbles X fingers crossed.
Again - no more HD ply until they decide to improve quality. Then theirs will cost $20 more too.
RonB
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