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I have some applewood 13 ply 3/4" plywood that I'm using for a desk top. I was wondering if I took a router to the edges if it would turnout ok.

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2 Answers 2

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ApplePly is a brand name for an all-hardwood veneer plywood that is higher quality than your typical construction or cheap hardwood plywoods. (You may want to confirm that your "applewood" plywood is truly ApplePly). ApplePly should be similar in quality to baltic birch plywoods and like baltic birch it is not supposed to contain voids. You can find these higher quality sheet goods at a large lumberyard or cabinet supplier.

A router will work fine on the edges of either ApplyPly or baltic birch. The glue in the plywood may dull the router bit slightly more quickly than solid wood but if you are only doing one desktop this is not really a factor.

From an aesthetic standpoint, you will be able to see the veneer layers on the edges. Depending on the piece of furniture this may be what you desire, or not.

additional info and clarifications based on the comments:

As several have mentioned it's a good idea to take several shallow passes rather than try to get it done in a single pass. This will help give cleaner cut. What 'shallow' means kind of depends on what the profile and thickness is, but start with about 1/16" and increase from there. Use a carbide bit rather than a cheaper high speed steel one. Make sure that you understand where the bearing of the bit will be riding, especially if you are profiling both sides. You should test all of these by working on the scrap edges of the sheet (or other scrap of the same material) before you cut it to final size. Secure the sheet with multiple clamps if at all possible. This is for safety and it will also give you more control and a better quality cut.

The direction that you move the router when working is important. If you are working on the outside edge of a plywood sheet with a handheld router the correct direction is counterclockwise- start on the left and cut only towards the right. This keeps the cutter rotating against the wood- you will actually have to push the router where you want it to go. If the router is pulling you along, you are making a climb cut which is useful in some situations but not really recommended for beginners because much more effort is required to maintain control of the router.

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Thanks JayL. I wish I knew more about things, but so far I think I'm on the right track. I am expecting the veneer layers to show through, and looking forward to it. I'm going for that surfboard type tool, so the lines will add to the character. –  Luke Nov 10 '11 at 4:54
    
Ply is rough on bits. Taking off a little at a time with each pass of the router will help. –  Hemm Nov 10 '11 at 6:36
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Be sure to use a good quality SHARP bit and always go in the direction opposite the rotation of the bit in the router. –  shirlock homes Nov 10 '11 at 10:50
    
I've routed over edges on cornhole boards I sell here and there for a couple of years now. It is by no means cabinet grade plywood, but the more layers in your wood, the better it will round over. Make sure to do multiple passes and only take off a little of wood at a time. –  Evil Elf Nov 10 '11 at 14:20
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I've routed over edges on cornhole boards I sell here and there for a couple of years now. It is by no means cabinet grade plywood, but the more layers in your wood, the better it will round over. Make sure to do multiple passes and only take off a little of wood at a time. Do your last past against the grain like Shirlock states. –  Evil Elf Nov 10 '11 at 14:20

Yes, you can use a router on plywood, but ok depends entirely on your definition of "ok". If there are no voids in the plywood, then it may not be terrible, but in my opinion as a woodworker, I'd rather see it edge banded with some type of hardwood. You can use a router on that and it will turn out quite nicely.

A virtue of hardwood edge banding is it will hold up far better over time. It will also finish far better, assuming you will apply some type of finish.

Edge banding is not that difficult to apply. Best is to use a tablesaw or router table to put a tongue on the hardwood. Then you can use a router to run a corresponding groove into the plywood edge. Alternatively, one could use a biscuit joiner to cut slots for biscuits to attach the banding. Finally, one could cut a groove down the lengths of each of the plywood and the banding material. Then a thin piece of plywood will make a perfect spline to join the two together.

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