Purchase the Plywood

Everybody have common question that what is plywood and how to purchase? You might think it is an easy task but getting the plywood from the lumber yard to your home can be a difficult task for several reasons:

  1. To buy at the big box store or not?
  2. The sheets are large and heavy to move around
  3. Not every sheet is good enough
  4. The grain pattern matters
  5. You have to get them home

To buy at the big box store or not?
I always like to support local businesses but for some reason every time I go to the local lumber yard it seems like they use my pocket book to fund the deep discounts given to general contractors. If you feel you have this same sort of luck, then there is one reason that you will probably want to consider buying your plywood at the big box store and that is price.

For our region purchasing each sheet of 3/4 inch 4×8 birch veneered plywood is just under $45 whether you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot. When I called the local lumber yards I was quoted over $65 dollars a sheet. When I asked if they would provide a quantity discount for over 30 sheets I was offered a discount of 5%. On the positive side the delivery fee from the lumber yard was only $25 whereas the big box stores wanted about $75. I wasn’t planning on delivery anyway and the $50 saved on delivery would be obliterated by the extra $600+ that I would spend on materials and additional tax. Some will argue that the quality of lumber is better than what is provided at the big box stores but I wasn’t able to confirm this.

The sheets are large and heavy to move around
You could just call up your local lumber yard or big box store and have them deliver the number of sheets that you would like. I actually wanted to see what each one looked like. I wasn’t really concerned about a closed box (24 sheets) so much as a stack of wood that others had picked through leaving the worst in a single stack. The problem is that to look at them you have to move them around. If you are by yourself you might consider being really friendly to any store employee offering assistance. Be careful how you pull them off the pile. The weight of the wood and the sharp corners can gouge the next piece in the stack. Bring your work gloves and don’t be afraid to use them. The edges are full of slivers just waiting for human to stick into.

Not every sheet is good enough
Wouldn’t it be nice if each sheet of plywood that you grabbed was perfect. That won’t happen. If you are picky prepare yourself for frustration. In fact when you are trying to get 20 or more sheets of plywood you have to figure out what imperfections you will settle for. Certain blemishes I consider to be character marks. You will also want to watch out for sheets where the veneer was too thin or was damaged in the manufacturing or shipping.

The grain pattern matters
You would think that each sheet would have a unique grain pattern but that’s not the way it works with modern manufacturing techniques. What you will probably find is that sheets next to each other on the stack will also have the same grain pattern. Both sides won’t have the same grain pattern but rather two sheets will have the same pattern on top and the same pattern on bottom.

This can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. The coloring can vary significantly from light to dark. Choose wisely. I will upload some pictures in the next day or two showing the color variations that can occur. If you are looking for lots of variation in each panel and you don’t want similar grain patterns you might want to consider buying a portion of what you need from different stores to get the variety that you are looking for.

You have to get them home
There are two factors when it comes to getting them home. The first is the size of each panel. If you don’t have a truck or trailer you might want to borrow one. I have a 4Runner and it can safely haul about 10 sheets. The second factor is just the weight. Each panel weighs about 75 pounds. It is best to have two people for loading and unloading and a vehicle that can actually haul or tow the weight of the wood. Delivery service may be a good option but I would make sure that if you are picky about the grain pattern or coloring you hand select the wood and have your lumber yard deliver what you select.

With these things in mind you should be able to select and then get the plywood to your home in order to start your project.

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