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 )
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.
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.
who knows a few great wooddorkers, and admires them, more than he can
emulate their craft...
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:
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
seismo malm (from finland)
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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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