Why plywood?

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Aw look, it had a liddle tantwum.
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Tom Watson wrote:

Jeeze, Watson, you sure get your panties in a bunch when someone dares to disagree with you! The nerve of some people, to not recognize your obvious superiority in all things!
Call you wrong, or say your work is anything but high-class, and the erudite one resorts to grade school name calling! LOL I'm sure you had a logic/argumentation class in your legendary academic career, (which you seldom fail to mention), right? Then you of course know what we think when you have nothing left but ad hominems...
Fatheree OWNS Watson!
What a tool. ( ObWW )
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I'm sorry that this has devolved into a pi$$ing contest.
Much of the output of the alumni (and faculty, for that matter) of the College of the Redwoods over the past decade or so has used veneer, generally shop cut, over whatever substrates made the most sense for the project. Often, that was a process very similar to that described by Mr. Watson.
Note also the Scandinavian master designers of the mid-twentieth century. And Jere Osgood, who has a piece or three in the world's better museums
'Quality' is well executed material and design, whatever material that may turn out to be.
Patriarch, who knows a few great wooddorkers, and admires them, more than he can emulate their craft...
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Patriarch wrote:

While not exactly made from plywood (these are first bended, then glued up) Alvar Aalto designed several chairs that were quite high end in 1920's and 1930's and even designed and made for invidual orders. Here is a link to a web page with images: http://www.alvaraalto.fi/alvar/design/chair/english.htm
I think that especially the chair in top right corner is pretty qood example what can be made from plywood and still be considerrerd of being of very good quality. These chairs are still pretty expensive today, despite of being mass produced.
I don't think that these are high end anymore cos of mass production but I like them very much. Artek web pages have links where his furniture is used, see http://www.artek.fi
seismo malm (from finland)
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<snip>

An interesting contention: That high-end furniture cannot be simultaneously mass produced. The contention is that exclusivity is inherent in the 'quality' of the product, and replication, with no other changes, somehow reduces the appropriateness of the design.
I contend that it only changes the price, and thereby, the accessibility.
My best respects to the Finns, who, having relatively scarce physical resources, and being few in number, have determined to, and largely succeeded at, exporting intelligent, thoughtful design in selected products, and done well thereby.
Patriarch
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On Sun, 24 Apr 2005 22:36:10 -0400, "Dan White"

I've helped a number of folks move very expensive, high-end antiques, and many of them had nasty looking unsanded barn clapboards on the back, with beautiful facades achieved with veneer. My guess would be that many of those old masters would have loved to have plywood to nail onto the back and to use as a substrate if they would have had that option.

I would, but that may be due to my skill level and lack of complete understanding of how solid wood is going to behave when the humidity changes.

Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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Dan White says...

The answer is definitely yes in some cases. For the back panel of a bookcase for example, why use anything else? Plywood wins in every category in an application like that. It's stable, and that is a very important thing for a large panel. It stands a better chance of keeping its shape over the long haul. You don't have to engineer in tricks to allow for expansion and contraction. It provides a surface of uniform color and grain. Have you ever seen walnut plywood? It is absolutely gorgeous. Color and grain matching of large areas with solid wood is an exercise in futility for the most part. Show me one case where money and supply are not factors. Where are you going to find enough ebony to make a banquet table? No matter how high-end the product, cost is always a factor. If it wasn't, then it would be art, not craftsmanship, and only one of anything would be made. DaVinci only produced one Mona Lisa, but Stradivari made over 1,100 musical instruments. Are you beginning to see the difference? If high end was the same thing as money being no object, then every piece of high end woodwork should be covered with carvings, inlays and marquetry. But who is going to pay for that? Nobody I know, not even most millionaires. Like anything else, high end is a relative thing.
Some woods are unique, like if it has curly figure, and a veneer over plywood not only means it will cover more area, but you can bookmatch pieces for an even better effect. If the wood isn't very strong or stable, and some figured wood is not, then you get the strength and stability of plywood to go with the look of the wood. Plywood is high end compared to particle board and MDF, and really cheap furniture seldom contains plywood. But it isn't even particle board or MDF that is the biggest problem with most cheap furniture, it is the design and how it is used. You can buy a home entertainment center at Wal-Mart for $100 that will sag if you use it as advertised, but I could make one out of MDF that would keep its shape, because I would use thicker material and support it where it was needed.
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Dan White wrote:

There are quite a few designs which can really only be achieved in plywood (or other stable sheet good), and modern furniture designs have used the properties of plywood to make new designs. Now 'round this group, people lean towards traditional designs, all of which were designed to account for wood movement. Many of our 'pretty' designs, such as frame-and-panel, are compromises to account for wood movement. But if you open your horizons some, you will see lots of things where plywood is not a substitute for solid wood but instead a material all its own.
PK
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On Mon, 25 Apr 2005 09:36:18 -0400, Paul Kierstead

Bingo!! Just because the letters w.o.o.d. appear in the name, doesn't mean it's the same thing, or should be treated as such.
(See also: electric guitar vs acoustic guitar...)
Lee
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So it sounds like modern quality furniture does incorporate plywood here and there as needed. Maybe traditional furniture with plywood backing and frame and panel elsewhere is a good blend of the two materials.
Thanks for the interesting responses, dwhite
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On Sun, 24 Apr 2005 22:36:10 -0400, "Dan White"

Ply is used for many things: drawer bottoms, carcass backs, etc. Cabinet-grade ply is not cheap. Most of my projects do not use plywood, but I don't rule it out either. Ply is more stable than soild wood.
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Dan White wrote:

curious
making
used
select
plywood was

that
stuff,
Hi Dan, In my business our furniture is constructed out of the real deal. About the only place we'll use plywood is in the backs of large dressers or the base of a china cabinet where it won't be seen...basically only to lighten the load. There is no shortage of lumber for me, though. I think a lot of "high end" furniture companies use plywood simply because they can. Most of their customers can't tell the difference anyway. I have people come into our store all the time and expect to custom order a piece at wal-mart prices and gawk at the price tags. Of course there those who appreciate quality and can't believe how inexpensive the stuff is....those are the guys in to buy lumber to build their own. Jana
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Out of curiosity, what are the most popular types of wood for furniture that you produce?
dwhite
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Dan White wrote:

Lannuier
just
appears
and
end
deal.
companies
the
at
can't
buy
furniture that

Hi Dan, It depends a little on how you look at it. For locals (IA or MN) who cusom order furniture, it would be plain sawn red oak, of course. For either coast, it's qs white oak, hickory, or cherry, and maple is starting to pick up again quite a bit. In the showroom we have furniture built out of about every species we cut. The main reason for that is that it gives people an idea of what different flavors are available for flooring, etc...I'd have to say that about 8 out of 10 people who come in looking for red oak flooring end up choosing something different. I'm not a huge fan of red oak, though, so I have a tendancy to talk people into other species and on more than one occasion..a mix of 'em all. Jana
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