Where can I buy 4' x 10' sheets of red oak plywood around Minneapolis, MN?
July 26, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Where can I buy 4' x 10' sheets of red oak plywood around Minneapolis, MN?

I'm planning on putting in some built-in shelves on either side of our fireplace. The fireplace itself and the wall behind it are covered in red oak strips that we've got some stain to match. I'm going to use a 3/4"x3/4" strip around the three sides of the nook and nail the shelf to that with a trim piece glued and nailed to it in the front.

I'm just realizing now that the spaces on either side are 49" wide and not the 48" that I had thought so the 4'x8' sheets of plywood I had planned on using won't work by just cutting them in half and it is starting to get really expensive if I need to buy four sheets instead of just two.

We were planning on making the shelves 18" deep but we can scale them back to 16" to get an extra shelf out of each sheet. In a perfect world, I'd buy some 4'x'10 sheets of plywood instead. I've found some places that sell them but not anyplace near me.

I'm willing to put the project off a little bit to buy the lumber online if I need to. Alternatively, does anyone know where I can find 1/2"x4'x8' red oak plywood for less than $44/sheet? Any other ideas?
posted by VTX to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Why are you using plywood and not just red oak? I think red oak would be stiffer than plywood.

Are you talking about solid red oak plywood? I'm not sure that such a thing is made, is it? I assume it would be red oak laminate over softwood. Definitely could be wrong though.
posted by sully75 at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2011

I'm talking about plywood with red oak veneer.
posted by VTX at 10:48 AM on July 26, 2011

Like this but in 1/2"x4'x8' dimensions.
posted by VTX at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2011

ok just wondering why you wouldn't use red oak? I think it will be much stiffer than plywood for a given thickness. At least I think so. Plus...any cuts you make from the inner sheet will have to be re-edged in red oak veneer. Which...isn't easy.
posted by sully75 at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2011

These guys are local to minneapolis, but it appears 4x10 is only available in 3/4". As for the price on that 1/2", that's a pretty standard price I've seen everywhere.
posted by sanka at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2011

I might not be understanding what you're intending here but in a case like this I'd probably just do a 1/2 inch edge on either end of the shelf. I'm thinking of something like this but on the sides as well.

That would also allows you to customize in case the shelves near the bottom are 49" but at the top they're 48 1/2" (although perhaps your house is constructed to tighter tolerance than I'm used to.
posted by macfly at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2011

You'd have to get really lucky to save any money this way. Try calling a local commercial plywood distributor, but I suspect you'll find that the specialty product will end up costing more, not less.
posted by jon1270 at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2011

Have you thought about just going with the 4'x8' sheets and adding a face frame (or something similar) around the built-ins to cover the gaps or expanding the strips you are using to support the shelves? You could even just run a strip of you red oak ply all the way down each side to reduce the width in an easy way.

1/2" ply seems to be on the thin side for shelves that size, unless you have some sort of hardwood banding at the front to add rigidity (on preview see macfly's link) I'd be surprised if you didn't see some sagging in the middle of those shelves. I'd go 3/4" ply, add 3/4" x 1 1/2" hardwood banding at the front of each shelf and work out something to cover the gaps, that 10' special order plywood is probably going to be expensive.
posted by N-stoff at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just looked through the online product listings for the distributor I linked above. They only offer 4 x 10 red oak in 3/4" thickness, but that's probably appropriate as noted above. You'd want to ask them about their products:

# 25046, which is oak veneer on MDF, with nice veneer on one side and crappy veneer on the other side.

# 25047, which is veneer core plywood with good veneers on both sides.

#25048, which is veneer on MDF, with good veneers on both sides.
posted by jon1270 at 11:42 AM on July 26, 2011

I would really do this out of regular red oak lumber and not plywood. With plywood, as others have said, you'll have to apply a veneer or facing to at east one edge. And even with a good finish-grade plywood, it's still just not as nice-looking as board lumber.

I work at an office supply retailer, and we sell some very nice ($700+) veneer bookcases. I've never been terribly happy with veneer, especially for things like bookcases. If your bookcases are going to be mostly for show, that's one thing; if you're like me and are into your bookcases daily, the veneer starts to become a problem. All it takes is one accidental snag, or the veneer has just enough of a gap in the join to snag a shirt sleeve, and you wind up tearing a large piece of it off. And this is from a quality manufacturer.

I've seen all too many DIY projects with applied veneers, and no offense, but the people just didn't know what they were doing. It takes practice to make a veneer look good.

I'd bet that, all things considered, you'll be at about the same cost and certainly less time to just do it with good board lumber. You can easily put a slight bullnose on the edges to keep them smooth, and they'll be stiffer and look better than plywood.

Plywood is great for covering large areas, but for 18" or 16" deep shelves, I'd really go with 3/4" lumber. A contractor I know likes to say, "Use good lumber for things you'll see, plywood for things you won't."
posted by xedrik at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2011

Use 3/4 plywood. Use standard sizes - they're cheaper, Use 4x8.
Too small? No problem. You're going to finish the edges by making solid oak strips that will attach to the front and sides of each shelf.

If you're in a hurry, just make a miter edging frame that will fit in your space and fill the center with ply. You can edge on three sides. Two sides will be for fitting the space. The front edge is for making it look intentional and to cover the ply edge.

If you're not in a hurry, edge the two sides butt with solid oak and for the front edge, cut a 3/4" thick strip of solid oak that is the full length of the shelf, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. On one of the wide faces, cut a plywood thickness rabbet about 3/8-1/2" deep. On the opposite side, rout some decorative beading and maybe quarter round the edges. Attach to the shelf so that the rabbet is on the upper edge. This will make each shelf decoratively trimmed on the front. It gives you some lines to attract your eye, and the rabbet will help keep the shelf from bowing.

tl;dr: solid oak trim on the sides to fit the space. Solid oak trim on the front to cover the plywood.
posted by plinth at 5:16 PM on July 26, 2011

Awww, I was gonna point you to Plywood Minnesota, but sadly they don't exist anymore.

That being said, Plinth is dead on.
posted by Sphinx at 7:48 PM on July 26, 2011

My hope was that two 4'x10' sheets would be cheaper than four 4'x8' sheets. I tried calling the company from John1270's link but got no response.

I'm using plywood because its cheaper and I can't find 18" planks anywhere.

I think I'm going to run a strip of 1"x2" solid oak on all four sides with the strip of 3/4" square solid oak on three sides to hold up the shelf and use 3/4" Oak veneer plywood for the shelves themselves.
posted by VTX at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2011

You might try Youngblood.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:28 PM on July 27, 2011

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