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Using plans to build a bed headboard which calls for 3/4" hardwood plywood (34" x 60 1/2"), which is quite pricey for a sheet. What would the main purpose of hardwood specifically be, besides being more solid? I'm wondering if I can get away with pine plywood 1/2". Will that bend too much or something? I was wondering if I could even get away with 1/4" with some horizontal 2x2's for support behind it. The cheapest option may be to instead use 2x6's for the entire headboard but I'm wondering if that will be way too heavy.

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    That's an impossible question to answer without seeing the plans or knowing more about the overall construction of the headboard. – longneck Aug 19 at 15:49
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    what about 1X6s instead of 2X6s? – dandavis Aug 19 at 15:53
  • @longneck The plans are shanty-2-chic.com/2019/01/diy-rustic-modern-queen-bed.html – jordan Aug 19 at 18:06
  • @dandavis I'm unable to find 1x6s that are cheaper than 2x6s. I would prefer going with 1x6s so that there is less weight, but that route would end up being similar price to the 3/4 hardwood plywood. – jordan Aug 19 at 18:07
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You can certainly use pine/fir plywood. It depends entirely on the appearance you're after. Pine tends to look more casual or rustic than fine hardwoods. It's also softer on the surface veneer, which is why the best furniture tends to be mahogany, oak, maple, cherry, etc.

It's not substantially less rigid, though. Hardwood plywood is usually only hardwood on the thin outer veneer. The core of a BC grade pine and hardwood plywood is usually very similar. 3/4" is plenty strong and stiff for your application. There are high-grade plywoods with very thin layers, which makes them more stiff and stable, but that's a different situation than just switching species.

Whether you can reduce to 1/2" depends on the design. It'll be less flat initially and more likely to warp over time if not supported by a rigid frame structure.

  • I guess I should have read your answer prior to posting + – Ed Beal Aug 19 at 16:36
  • @isherwood, the plans shanty-2-chic.com/2019/01/diy-rustic-modern-queen-bed.html do call for a rustic look ;). I'd like to stick with plywood for the headboard as it will be a single sheet and look with what we're going for. However, I want to get the cheapest I can get away with while still being strong when laying against it. So 1/4" pine plywood with some horizontal support slats behind it is what we're leaning towards. What size/number of supports do you think would be sufficient to prevent the bending/warping? – jordan Aug 19 at 18:10
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    1/4” would not work at all you are only looking at 3-4 layers it would almost need 100% support possibly 1/2” with top middle and bottom support. – Ed Beal Aug 19 at 18:30
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    Plenty of headboards are made with 1/4" plywood set into a solid wood frame. It's not the material but how it's used. – isherwood Aug 19 at 19:33
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The plywood plant I worked in made hardwood faced plywood. The core section(s) were fir. The reason hardwood is suggested for furniture is for looks. There may be all hardwood types out there but I know several plants in the Pacific Northwest only face the panel and some times on only 1 side.. as for the thickness that is where your strength comes from the thicker the more plys so you do not want to go thinner. You could build it from regular sanded plywood and purchase a sheet of veneer but that would end up costing more than pre made.

  • I guess our main concern is strength/warping, as I commented above. I'm also assuming that staining will be the same for either. – jordan Aug 19 at 18:12

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