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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(I decided to trust Stick and others, work without MDF for the year, and see if the decision sticks... so this discussion is only about plywood.)

I really like baltic birch. However, I need something longer than 5 feet. What kind of plywood would you use for jigs & fixtures when you'd prefer BB but need a larger size? :confused:

To complicate it...

Intermountain Wood has 18mm BB for $40.83 in the standard 5' x 5' size.
They also have 18mm BB for $72.34 in 4' x 8' size. I always thought that BB was only 5x5 and those claiming 4x8 were selling an imposter product... but the supplier swears it's the same good stuff from the same source.
Is this real?

And even if it is real, would you pay $72.34 for 3/4"x4'x8' BB? :eek:
(If it was the same $/sf as the 5x5, it would be $52.26, and that would be more tempting.)
 

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I'd shop around. The last time I bought a 4X8 sheet of BB, I paid $57.00. That was a year ago in Phoenix, AZ.
It sure looks and works like the 5X5 stuff.
 

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due to the fact that America does 4x8 routinely BB manufactures answered the need...
special order and an insane amount of $$$ you can have BB in 6'x12'...
be careful not to confuse BB w/ birch ply...
watch out for counterfeit also...
if your supplier tells you differently they are not informed...
consider Apple ply as an alternative, http://appleply.com/....

.
 

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Back in the late 1970's and the early 1980's, I was the owner/operator of WATERTIGHT FOUNDATIONS. We were a small company of 18- workers and worked on very high-end houses and small commercial work. Basically all of the houses were MANSIONS - 20,000 square feet and more. Builders of houses such as those do not want houses with foundation problems!
I remember a very large house that we worked-on where the contractor was having us build several retaining walls. The homeowner and the architect had come-up with a plan to use engineered wood for the floor system - to enable long spans above the huge basement. The contractor was (and still is) a very good friend of mine and he had a delivery truck come-in to deliver plywood to deck the floor system atop of the engineered wood trusses. When the truck arrived, he asked if several of my guys would pitch-in and help to carefully unload the plywood. I didn't think that was at all unusual, so I sent several of them over to help. The plywood was in pieces that measured 32 feet long x 12 feet wide. It was 1.5" thick! Prior to that or since that project, I have never seen such a thing in my life! The contractor had a brochure with him showing how the plywood was made and it's made MUCH LARGER than that - but gets ripped and crosscut to the smaller sizes!
And yes - it was extremely heavy!

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia
 

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due to the fact that America does 4x8 routinely BB manufactures answered the need...
special order and an insane amount of $$$ you can have BB in 6'x12'...
be careful not to confuse BB w/ birch ply...
watch out for counterfeit also...
if your supplier tells you differently they are not informed...
consider Apple ply as an alternative, States Industries....

.
Thanks for all this info, Stick. A lot here that I didn't know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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Use the best- FinnForm, 14ply, the best plywood in the world :https://www.alibaba.com/showroom/fin-form-plywood.html

Russian Birch is good for jigs too, Not quite as good as BB but close.

I like MDO/HDO plywood too,you can get it Melamine one side or both sides.

Herb
Not Asian, made in Finnland.
Finn Form is made for concrete forming but it has a phenolic coated faces that are a deep red mahogany color that are like glass, it is probably the most beautiful plywood from the mill you will ever experience. Kind of pricey.

Plywood and Door

U. S. Lumber, Inc. HDO

HErb
 

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Herb, I'm not sure whether you're joking or serious. Sourcing Asian products from Alibaba smells like you're joking... but if you're serious, I'd love to know more. What makes FinnForm the best?
you had it right on the 1st guess..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Not Asian, made in Finnland.
Finn Form is made for concrete forming but it has a phenolic coated faces that are a deep red mahogany color that are like glass, it is probably the most beautiful plywood from the mill you will ever experience. Kind of pricey.
So Herb, it sounds like Finn Form is a lot like MDO, but with more durable faces. Is that about right?

Is it void free like BB?

How flat is it? I'd expect concrete forming to have looser tolerances in that regard than woodworking, and I definitely want wood that's jig ready with no resurfacing required.

If it is as flat as BB, that phenolic surface might be an advantage on some jigs. Would you use Finn Form for a table saw sled? Would you use it for a router table top rather than melamine? Would you use it for a bench top? Where would you not use it, and why?

This sounds like interesting material to take a look at if it's not too pricey. Is it BB pricey or more so?
@stick, If I read you correctly, you're not a fan. Is that right? What's your objection?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
And for the benefit if anyone else following, a bit more info, and a few more questions...

I did some digging on Finn Form. The Alibaba links Herb posted first mostly show Chinese products, most of which clearly don't fit the Finn Form product description but are piggybacking on the term for marketing. When I follow Herb's later link to Plywood and Door, and other googled links, I found much better looking products. It appears Finn Form is like MDO/HDO plywood, but it's a particular brand made with Finnish birch, phenolic surface, and easily available specs on structural loading (see Herb's links). This product is something I want to examine in person.

Now back to those questions...
is it void free?
is it flat like BB?
would you use it for a table saw sled?
would you use it for a router table top?
would you use it for a bench top?
where would you _not_ use it, and why?

I'd love to hear your opinions and answers to these questions, not only for Finn Form, but also for MDO and HDO... since I haven't used any of these products.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I use the HDO and MDO a lot for shop plywood. It is completely waterproof so can be used out doors, under water. Paints beautifully. it is different than Finn board in that it is made of 5 plys no voids the plys are glued together with a waterproof resin. the faces are not mirror smooth, it is also made for architectural concrete finish not a mirror smooth finish.
The Finn Board is mirror smooth faces, has 14 thin plys I would use it anyday for the applications you list. It too is water proof and very heavy weight. there are several different ones made for different applications.
It is flatter than BB, Harder than BB, Heavier than BB, more beautiful than BB, there is no better plywood than Finn Board. You can't compare it to HDO/MDO plywood ,they are completely different products

Where would I not use it? I would not make a pallet out of it,unless it was to haul bars of gold.

It is not cheap,you won't find it at Harbor Freight.
Herb
 

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So Herb, it sounds like Finn Form is a lot like MDO, but with more durable faces. Is that about right?

NorFormFir is it's predecessor..

1... Is it void free like BB?
2... How flat is it? I'd expect concrete forming to have looser tolerances in that regard than woodworking, and I definitely want wood that's jig ready with no resurfacing required.
3... If it is as flat as BB, that phenolic surface might be an advantage on some jigs.
4... Would you use Finn Form for a table saw sled?
5... Would you use it for a router table top rather than melamine?
6... Would you use it for a bench top? Where would you not use it, and why?
7... This sounds like interesting material to take a look at if it's not too pricey. Is it BB pricey or more so?
8... @stick, If I read you correctly, you're not a fan. Is that right? What's your objection?
1... freer..
2... major flat and tougher than door nails.. and it is heavy.. very heavy.. did I mention it's heavy???
3... it's phenolic resin trough and through as where BB is phenolic coated...
4... what for... go w/ the BB phenolic coated..
5... use anything other than melamine...
6... 400$ bench top... yur serious, right???
7... you can bet BB will be about a third the cost or even less...
8... I'm not of fan of Alibaba... prefer the plague over them..
 
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And for the benefit if anyone else following, a bit more info, and a few more questions...

1... I did some digging on Finn Form. The Alibaba links Herb posted first mostly show Chinese products, most of which clearly don't fit the Finn Form product description but are piggybacking on the term for marketing.
2... It appears Finn Form is like MDO/HDO plywood, but it's a particular brand made with Finnish birch, phenolic surface, and easily available specs on structural loading (see Herb's links). This product is something I want to examine in person.
3... is it flat like BB?
4... would you use it for a table saw sled?
5... would you use it for a router table top?
6... would you use it for a bench top?
7... but also for MDO and HDO... since I haven't used any of these products.
1... did you expect something different... like the real deal instead of counterfeit or knock off...
2... not even close... it is plywood w/ phenolic resin glue.. MDO/HDO are different animals..
3... yup in a ''plastic'' surface...
4... sure.. but it's heavy...
5... Hades yes...
6... no..
7... think road side signage..
 
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Interesting. Being as my jigs usually don't last that long (No, they do not self-destruct, they last their purpose, then are cut up and tossed), I use the lowest priced plywood that has no voids. Use the same for my various shop fixtures. Works well enough to stand up to years of use, my lathe stand was made from it, saw stand made from it, router table made from it. Not the prettiest maybe, but does just what I need it for. If I need it stronger, I double or triple layer it. If I needed better quality plywood, I would buy it instead, but I don't need it.

Somewhere around here I have a book on wooden Jon boat making. The author learned from his father. The cheapest plywood was used. Voids were filled with caulking compound, sometimes put in with a stick. A usable boat was the result. They were in the water only when being used, other times they were stored on sawhorses or such, covered. None were painted. He claimed that the average life of one of these boats was 15 years. Amazing stuff, plywood.
 
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I make most of my fixtures and jigs from Baltic Birch of various thicknesses depending on the need. Sometimes from Finland and sometimes from Russia or the Baltic area, it's readily available from the better lumber sources in the US that carry a wide assortment of plywoods. True Baltic Birch plywood is in metric dimensions and about 5' X 5' (1.5 meters) in sheet size with no internal voids, but there are different grades available for the surface layers. The better the quality of the surface layers, the higher the sheet price.

Many of my tools that came with multiple options and small parts get put in custom made boxes that I like to make from different thicknesses of Baltic Birch. I like working with it and the nice finished appearance that it has.

I've also custom made some boxes out of Baltic Birch for others and the demand for these seems to be increasing. This past week I've been making some parts bins for my shop, nothing fancy. Just open top and stackable boxes (tote bins) with hand grip holes in each end and with box jointed corners and they are about shoe box in size. These are being made from 10 mm (3/8") Baltic Birch because I found a shop that has a huge number of 1' X 5' drops of 10 mm Baltic Birch that I can buy for $2.50 each. Most are B grade on both sides (meaning that they can have football shaped plugs), but they have been perfect for my parts bins at a very reasonable price.

Charley
 

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So being a new guy here I have to say that I've only used 4x8 sheets of "cabinet grade" Birch, Oak, and Baltic Birch plywoods of various qualities locally available. The big store sheets are less than great by a long shot and my local supplier of hardwoods Northland Forrest and C P Johnson both carry ply wood but at premium prices. I've been fortunate enough to be able to piggyback my plywood orders with a local cabinet shop. Paying $74 for a sheet of 4x8 3/4" prefinished Baltic Birch and $57 for prefinished 1/2" which is far cheaper than the two above suppliers. I noticed C P had 5x5 sheets while Northland has 4x8. I was going to look and see why 5x5 and was there an advantage. Most all plans I've ever seen show the cutout plan using 4x8. And real reasoning behind this? And finding any phenolic plywood locally is impossible from what I've been able to see.

-Steve
 
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