EXPLANATION OF HARDWOOD PLYWOOD GRADES
Hardwood plywood uses two alphanumeric characters to designate the grade of the panel. The first character refers to the quality of the face of the panel. This character is normally a letter-such as “A”, however in special production products it could be a number. The second character is normally a number and refers to the quality of the back panel, however in special production products it could be a letter. A typical plywood grade would be A-1. This means that the plywood would have an “A” grade face with a “1” back. A-1 and B-2 plywood grades are typically the grades most often used in ½” and thicker panels for cabinet work. The most common grade used in ¼” panels is A-4. This means that the plywood will have an “A” grade face with a “4” back. A brief summary of the specifications of each face grade and back grade follows, along with a comparison chart of Columbia Forest Products “A Standard Beyond The Standard” and ANSI grades. Schaller Hardwood Lumber Company in an effort to provide the very best for our customers and their clients, stocks an A faced panel in all thickness of plywood.
A-Grade Face—an “A” face on hardwood plywood should be matched for both grain and color. All veneer splices should be book-matched for a visually pleasing appearance. There should not be any abrupt changes in color or grain between the splices. An “A” face will not permit sound knots, repaired knots or rough-cut veneer. An A face may allow slight mineral streak and/or vine marks. The number of defects such as pin knots or small burls varies according to the specie of veneer. This is the best face grade on plywood normally stocked and is often used for upper-end cabinetry, architectural millwork, and quality furniture.
B-Grade Face—a “B” face on hardwood plywood should be matched for a pleasing color, but not necessarily for grain. “B” grade faces are generally very similar to “A” faces, but do allow some sound or repaired knots and some slight rough cut veneer. “B” grade faces will also allow slight mineral streak and vine marks. “B” grade faces are, often used by customers wishing to save a little money on plywood. Many suppliers offer the “B” grade faces in lieu of “A” grade faces in an effort to be more price competitive. Comparing the price of “A” grade faces and “B” grade faces is not comparing apples to apples. Always be sure to specify the face grade of plywood you are wishing to receive.
C-Grade Face—a “C” face on hardwood plywood allows for unlimited pin knots and small burls. A “C” face can also contain repaired knots and sound knots. The “C” grade will also allow unlimited mineral and vine marks. A “C” face should be a sound smooth face. A “C” face is used primarily on paint grade type panels, in lower-end case work, and for cabinet interiors in upper-end cabinetry.
D-Grade Face—a “D” face on hardwood plywood is similar to the “C” face, but will allow some rough cut veneer and a few more repaired and sound knots.
1 Back—can contain up to 16 sound tight knots not exceeding 3/8″ in diameter. Allowed to contain unlimited mineral streaks. A “1” back will not contain any repaired knots. The “1” back is most often paired with A faces at Schaller Hardwood Lumber Company on all plywood exceeding 3/8″ in thickness. We also pair a “1” back with “A” grade faces on all 1/4″ plywood that is to be used as door panels.
2 Back—can contain up to 16 sound tight knots not exceeding ¾” in diameter. A “2” back can also contain repaired knots, rough cut veneer, and unlimited mineral streak. Many suppliers, in an effort to cut cost pair a “2” back with an A face. Don’t be misled by those who say an A-2 panel is the same as an A-1 panel.
3 Back—normally not used in any of the plywood Schaller Hardwood Lumber Company stocks.
4 Back—this is generally referred to as a reject back. A “4” back is to be used in concealed areas where appearance is of no concern. The “4” back is most commonly used on 1/4″ plywood. However, it may also be used on thicker panels when the back will play no role in the appearance of the finished product.
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