Baltic Birch Plywood Dimensions and Waste

Thoughts on how to get value out of a 5-foot by 5-foot plywood panel. June 16, 2010

I am wondering who orders 5x5 sheets and do they generally have a specified use? I ordered 3/4 baltic birch but did not specify 4x8. My salesperson usually knows what I want. My mistake but I'm just wondering how I'm going to minimize waste out of these. Are these sized perfectly for a set number of panels for cabinets or something because I'm not seeing it?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
I personally prefer 4x8 just because that is what my storage is set up for, but I use a lot of baltic birch for drawers and it typically comes in 5x5.

From contributor K:
Baltic Birch typically comes 5x5 but Finland Birch was usually 8x4 (called short grain). Also I've seen more Euro birch which is 4x8 available at my supplier and I find it higher quality with exterior glue (and of course more money). Yes, 5x5s can be challenging to get the best yield.

From contributor M:
Back in the 70's, I worked for the sole importer of baltic birch when we were showing it to people for the first time. It was all imported from what was then the USSR. 5x5 was, and apparently still is, their standard. Other lengths in 60" width were available, but at an upcharge per foot.

From contributor L:
ApplePly (States) and Europly (Columbia) are 4x8. Both have alternating birch and alder veneer cores. The stock ApplePly has maple faces (C2). I've only used ApplePly. Its nice but pricey.

From contributor J:
If youre making drawer parts making a waste cut first before ripping works very well. My drawer sides are mostly 22, so I cross cut at around 44"+ save the off fall for other drawer parts, works very well. Ripping first will leave you with allot of small pieces. This sounds very obvious, but I ran into an owner of a large cabinet shop that downsized from12 people to a one man shop. He asked me how do you deal with all the waste on a 5 x 5? I mentioned this same first cross cut, and he never thought about that. He always had someone in the shop doing all the cutting.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J thats a good idea. Here lately I have been taking things a little slower before I start cutting away. I sort of ask myself what is the biggest cutoff I can possibly get out of this. I still do all my own cutlists on paper by drawing a rectangle and making lines through it. Guess I'll save it for drawers even though its a little pricey.

From contributor K:
Get cutlist plus. It will pay for itself in a couple of jobs in time saved and material saved and less frustration.

From the original questioner:
Thanks contributor K. I'm sure that would help a lot. I'm actually kind of waiting to get a design program with integrated cutlist software. They do have a free trial for cutlist plus so maybe I'll give it a try anyway.