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Author Topic: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?  (Read 11048 times)

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Fast351

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Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« on: January 05, 2015, 11:19:42 am »
I am looking to paint it, so smooth would be better than rough. 

My choices at the local builder are:

Approx $40 @ 4x8 sheet:

Red oak (worried about a really open grain)
ACX (basically pine face)
Lauan (this is a southeast asian mahogany-like wood near as I can tell)
Classic Birch

Then there is an interesting one I hadn't heard of:

TigerFORM ($50)  "TigerFORM is a Phenolic film faced 2 sides plywood used for concrete forming"

And of course MDO, at $60/sheet, has a plywood core and MDF outer layer.


Things I am concerned about:

1) Ability to rout this stuff to accept t-molding
2) Ability to use a roundover router bit to shape the edge for a control panel
3) Using adhesive backed CPO, so it has to stick to whatever I choose (no plexi over CPO)
4) Ability to paint without having to fill the entire side panel in order to get rid of wood grain

What do you guys think?



yotsuya

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 11:22:48 am »
I am looking to paint it, so smooth would be better than rough. 

My choices at the local builder are:

Approx $40 @ 4x8 sheet:

Red oak (worried about a really open grain)
ACX (basically pine face)
Lauan (this is a southeast asian mahogany-like wood near as I can tell)
Classic Birch

Then there is an interesting one I hadn't heard of:

TigerFORM ($50)  "TigerFORM is a Phenolic film faced 2 sides plywood used for concrete forming"

And of course MDO, at $60/sheet, has a plywood core and MDF outer layer.


Things I am concerned about:

1) Ability to rout this stuff to accept t-molding
2) Ability to use a roundover router bit to shape the edge for a control panel
3) Using adhesive backed CPO, so it has to stick to whatever I choose (no plexi over CPO)
4) Ability to paint without having to fill the entire side panel in order to get rid of wood grain

What do you guys think?

I'd love to try MDO myself.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

Fursphere

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2015, 11:37:10 am »
If you don't' want to fight wood grain (fill, paint, sand, lather, rinse, repeat...), it sounds like you've already made up your mind.  MDO

Generic Eric

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 12:01:30 pm »
If you don't' want to fight wood grain (fill, paint, sand, lather, rinse, repeat...), it sounds like you've already made up your mind.  MDO

I used the best plywood locally available to me.  I had to do a significant amount of sanding.  I wanted the wood grain to show, so I didn't use any filler.

To add a finer point, what you don't pay for in the price of the product, you will likely pay when purchasing filler, sanding materials and time.

Quote
Uses of Graded Plywood
Different grades of plywood have different uses and different prices.
  • A-A is the most expensive, and it is used when both sides of the plywood will be visible and important, such as in furniture.
  • A-C plywood is also often used in furniture in applications where the appearance of only one side matters.
  • "B+-C" and "B-C" grades are typically used for both floor underlays and for sheathing
  • "C-C" grade is reserved for sheathing walls, floors and roofs.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_7793796_difference-between-bc-ac-plywood.html#ixzz32UoAHu2w

bfauska

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 12:28:00 pm »
For super-smooth MDO, you may have to use some filler at the rounded edges but otherwise it'll be real nice. The paintability of MDF with the structure and weight (almost) of plywood.

I'd love to see how the concrete form stuff works though. I work in theatre and we constantly build with ply then cover with MDF or masonite, or we use MDO, or we skim-coat when we want something really smooth and I've seen the concrete stuff and wondered about it in the past. I suspect it doesn't take paint well because it's designed for a use where you wouldn't want things to stick to it very well. I also think the interior plys are probably more likely to have voids than the more cabinet or sign based MDO

Fast351

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 09:43:03 am »
I went and physically looked at the local Menards last night, and I don't think I am going to go with MDO plywood.  The surface has lots of little "hairs" that's common with fiberboard (for some reason I thought the surface would be more like high density particle board instead of fiberboard) and the core looks like it has some pretty significant voids in it.  I think if I try to roundnose that for the CP that I'll have some pretty serious chipping issues even if I go slow.  It also doesn't look like a great surface for adhesive backed CPOs to stick to, and it looks like it would absorb water which makes me worry about latex based primers.

With that out of the equation, the regular hardwood plywoods remained, and it looks like the birch comes in two varieties.  The "classic" birch plywood with a grade C face and a grade 3 back (not sure why they use letters for the front and numbers for the back).  It looked pretty decent but the surface would definitely need prep, at least for the sides.  The core also didn't look all that solid.  The second variety of birch  is called the "B2" which looks like it has a much better surface, and more importantly the core looks to be quite a bit more dense.  Interestingly they also had baltic birch there, although only in 1/4".  That stuff looks fantastic.  They can order 3/4" in, not sure how long it would take.  It's $70 on sale, but if I can get it inside of a week, I may go that route.

The last thing I looked at was the Lauan plywood.  This stuff is also very nice, but for the small difference in price, I think I'll go with it as the grain looks a little more closed on the birch than the Lauan.

The maple also looked decent (same price as birch) but again slightly more open grain.

I'm kinda bummed, I really liked the idea of the MDO, but it just doesn't look very high quality to me.







dkersten

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 02:20:46 pm »
Baltic birch is awesome, but comes in 5x5 sheets, so a taller cab would not be able to be cut from one piece without a seam, not something that would work well.  The "A" surface of regular birch plywood would be best if you want ply and not solid MDF.  One coat of a good primer/sealer, allow to dry completely, sand, then prime again and paint and you will get a pretty smooth surface without grain coming through (except in the case of where they patch for voids on the surface, that would require filler).  MDO uses a fiberglass resin in the surface so it is waterproof, but unless you are getting some low grade MDO, it should be easy to smooth out with one quick sanding and get a really nice finish. 

If you just want a smooth grain free surface, a decent birch ply is your best choice, just pick and choose your sheets and be sure to look at the "A" side, not the "C" side which will be way rough.  Aside from higher end veneer plywoods like oak, cherry, maple, etc, you are going to have voids.  This is why Baltic birch is so great.  Chances are you won't run into any problems with the voids in the t-molding though, and if you do, just fill it and re-cut it.

yotsuya

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2015, 02:54:56 pm »
Baltic birch is awesome, but comes in 5x5 sheets, so a taller cab would not be able to be cut from one piece without a seam, not something that would work well.

Dave, our woods teacher uses Baltic Birch and I noticed it was only in 5x5? Why is that?  :dizzy:
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

Fast351

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2015, 02:57:09 pm »
Menards actually has 4x8 sheets of Baltic Birch:

http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/panel-products/specialty-panels/hardwood-plywood/3-4-x-4-x-8-baltic-birch-plywood/p-1479674-c-13334.htm

Pretty reasonably priced for what you get actually.  Long delivery though, I really want to start cutting this weekend...

This is the stuff I will probably get which looks to have a really nice core and is in stock:

http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/panel-products/specialty-panels/hardwood-plywood/3-4-x-4-x-8-b2-birch-plywood-wood-veneer-core/p-1714173-c-13334.htm

This is the "cheap" birch plywood:

http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/panel-products/specialty-panels/hardwood-plywood/3-4-classic-birch-plywood-wood-veneer-core/p-1480808-c-13334.htm

I was not impressed with it.  The core looked like it had quite a few voids in it.




yotsuya

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2015, 02:58:52 pm »
Wish we had a Menards here in Arizona. So much awesome stuff.
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2015, 03:23:38 pm »
True Baltic birch comes from Eastern Europe and there the standard for furniture grade plywood is 5x5.  I have come across 4x8 sheets before, but I am not sure it is actually from overseas, rather an American version of it.  I seem to remember that you could also get it in 5x10 sheets, and maybe the 4x8 is just a cut down version of that to match American standards for sheet goods.  It's been a couple years since I purchased any, and from what I remember, a 5x5 3/4" thick sheet (or whatever mm is close to 3/4, lol) was around $60.  I used a lot of 1/2" and 3/4" prefinished (one side) for my kitchen cabinets.  Put the finished side inside (very nice smooth poly coating) and the rough side out.  In my case, I painted the ends that were exposed and with just a couple coats of primer followed by some sanding and some coats of a really good semi-gloss paint, ended up with a really nice finish.  And the insides of all my cabinets have a great durable finish that I didn't have to spend any time on at all.

I get mine from a specialty hardwood/hardware wholesaler we have locally.

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2015, 04:00:45 pm »
True Baltic birch comes from Eastern Europe and there the standard for furniture grade plywood is 5x5. 

Our local specialty store told me that as well.  It is really nice stuff but not a real useful size for arcade cabinet building.

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2015, 04:21:16 pm »
True Baltic birch comes from Eastern Europe and there the standard for furniture grade plywood is 5x5. 

Our local specialty store told me that as well.  It is really nice stuff but not a real useful size for arcade cabinet building.

But it would be great for cabarets....
***Build what you dig, bro. Build what you dig.***

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2015, 06:03:52 pm »
Love presanded Birch Plywood.  :cheers:

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2015, 06:29:14 pm »
True Baltic birch comes from Eastern Europe and there the standard for furniture grade plywood is 5x5. 

Our local specialty store told me that as well.  It is really nice stuff but not a real useful size for arcade cabinet building.

But it would be great for cabarets....

Good point.  Hmmm.....

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2015, 06:57:50 am »
I use Baltic Birch for making wooden clocks. It is a fantastic ply. Here in Australia it comes in all sorts of sizes and if you're prepared to pay you can get it in panels of 2.4 x 1.2 with some specialty suppliers offering even larger sizes.

Have you considered a softwood or are you worried about movement?

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2015, 09:59:13 am »
One of the best materials I've used in a full size cabinet has been a classic core maple. Plywood core, mdf layer, and then a maple veneer over that. Can be stained, painted, and because of how it's made it's super flat and very smooth.

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2015, 10:15:11 am »
That is fantastic stuff, but I have such a hard time covering good hardwood veneer with paint, and such a hard time spending the money on hardwood veneer for something that is just structural...

I have yet to find what it is called, but I once got a sheet of what was basically MDO, but without the resin impregnated in the outer skin.  It was made for people who wanted the light ply core with an smooth mdf surface to apply their own veneer in a non-weather application.  The surface looked exactly like MDF and it was almost as light as plywood. 

Another possible option would be to start with 1/2" ply and glue a layer of Masonite hardboard to the outside surface.. This is tricky because you have to glue the whole surface and then get it on a flat surface and put a lot of even weight on it to make sure it doesn't get wavy, but the tempered side of Masonite is smooth as butter and super durable.  I always made all my workbenches with that as a surface material, and when it gets really bad after drilling or cutting into it and spilling glue or epoxy all over it, just slap another 1/8" layer over the top and it is as good as new.  That tempered surface is the best.  Last I checked though, you can't even get Masonite in 4x8 sheets at the box stores any more..

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2015, 09:55:07 pm »
What type of plywood did they used to make them out of?
My old stern cabinet is 5/8 the ply but I couldnt tell you what type.
Only that its the heavy kind.

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Re: Which plywood is the "right" plywood for an arcade cabinet?
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2015, 11:00:01 am »
Most of the old cabs I have dissected are made with junk particle board/plywood.