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After having a meltdown about kit plywood being garbage, I purchased some Aircraft Birch plywood, MUCH better, but still not good for possible replacement. I searched around on the net and its seems all plywood over the past several years is crap. The main source is Chinese import which have increased by 1000% recently. The quality is very poor, central plys more air than wood, and often other things like box cutter blades and other forms of metal (great for power tools). The glues are toxic. A large quantity shipped to the Katrina area for reconstruction could not be used due to formaldehyde fumes. Warehouses have refused entire shipments for the same reason. None of it is near dimensional size (for every 19 full sheets, they can get an extra one by the reduced size. Finland one of the main birch sources is seeing its source running out. Maybe we, especially the kit suppliers, should look into an alternative, maybe MDF (suppose to laser cut well) or something. Darn, Ain't nothing like it usta be (including me)!


Still I know there are those much hated (by me), gifted artists, who manage to continually come up with such amazing pieces of craftsmanship made out of nothing and spit. I guess I'll have to experiment and maybe hunt down some of those gifted ones too.

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MDF board also has health risks due to formaldehyde glues and wood fibre. Good ventilation is required as well as face mask and eye protection if sanding or using power tools on it. A good shop vacuum is a wise investment.


Here is a relevant link:




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Great discussion especially about health issues. Plywood uses Phenol formaldehyde glues which are nasty as discussed . But also, as discussed MDF. plywood and other "manufactured wood" products can be used safely by wearing the proper safety equipment. As for outgassing, I suspect the amount that could occur from the minimal amounts used in ship model bulkheads and formers would be negligible but that is only a guess. Midwest makes a very nice grade of birch ply if you can find it..

Thanks to you both for bringing this topic up. Very useful and educational.


Jaxboat B)

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  • 5 weeks later...

I work on private yacht and the owner of the yacht had a Maine Artist to produce a painting for the Aft cabin. It had to have a radius to match the deck head above the picture.

He used 13 Ply Beach 1/2 inch thick. Shaped it routed it then did the art work on it I asked the artist about the ply as I had never heard of such dense ply before. He said that 13 ply saw the strongest most stable he could get due to the number of layers.

So get down your local artist's store and hunt down "Artists Ply" 


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