The cost of materials ... something to think about

So getting ready to build a shop cart for storage. My knee jerk reaction was to go to MDO Plywood (MDF top coat over plywood)

Figuring 3/4" ought to do my local supplied said $108.12 for a 4x8. Double checked at Menard’s $99.99 (dubious quality) In general ouch.

Considering 4x8 sheets are ~24bdf that is about $4.16 a bdf. OUCH!

Looking up my local hardwood supplied:
4/4 Popular S3S $3.95, regular 4/4 $3.50
4/4 Rustic Cherry $1.95 ( expect gummy and knots)
4/4 Hickory $3.60
4/4 Red Oak $3.55

Looks like the shop is about to face lift. (Yes I have a planer/jointer/drum sander/table saw/domino)

I think I need a bourbon.


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Carl, a 4x8 sheet is 32 bf, not 24, so your calcs are off.

Nope 3/4" … So by the bf it would be 32*,75 or 24


The plywood, probably at least 4 plies (considering the MDF top coat may take up one of the traditional 5 plies of traditional marine plywood), is far more stable than the glue-up you’ll need to use the hardwood you noted.

Is there a reason you need MDO vs standard plywood? MDO is usually twice as expensive. You could cut your costs by at least 40% and maybe 50% depending on where you are.

I like MDO, it is usually nice and flat and finishes well … a step up from BCX construction grade plywood but not quite Baltic Birch. The “3/4 Classic Birch Wood Veneer Core Plywood” still clocks in at $70 a sheet, BCX $68 (Home Depot a little better at $65)

I have been playing with FreeCad as a 3D alternative to VCarve Pro (which I have and it works well). Today I cut out a Festool MFT style 45 deg Triangle and it worked well … helical 20mm holes and then adaptive cuts for three clamping slots.

I also have a shop cart designed in Freecad. Just something to hold a bunch of HF parts cases. It will be about 30" tall with ~7 dados for shelves … I just figured the 1F would eat up those dados.

My surprise was I always felt using plywood was a less expensive option… depending on the use case it maybe more expensive.

But as you say it MAY be more stable … some of the imported ply I have used did not appear very stable when it was “brand new”. I will say the Baltic birches have almost always been very good but that is $170 at Menards (something around 13 ply for 3/4"/18mm)

It is tough being a cheap basta…

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Carl and Lynn - we think about these prices every day. It is insane. Spoilboard MDF was about $25 a sheet before all of this started. Last check at HD it was $65. I’ve used that Menards Baltic Birch on one project. It is not the same as the Baltic Birch found in reputable lumber and hardwood shops. I bought 1000 BF of QSWO from our sawyer last year. $4.20 S2S SL1E. Went back for 2000 more a few weeks ago. He wants $8.00 BEFORE MILLING!

Sooner or later, like every other financial disturbance, things will stabilize and return to normal. In the meantime, we jealously watch every board and sheet that we get.

Well you have given me a second price point. After the shop cabinet, I am making 4 QSWO end tables. My guy wants $8.40 bdf <100bdf and $7.95 > 100 bdf. It seems my retailer is competitive if not what I consider reasonable. (Cincinnati)

At $2 a bdf I am seriously considering buying some “rustic cherry” for the 1F. Cherry catch all trays/trivets/cheese boards and such… seems like the cheapest material, and it might look good. Anybody work with it?

So don’t buy crypto currencies buy wood.

Ha - true.

I got some baltic birch few weeks ago - 2 sheets of 5/8 and 1 sheet of 1/4 cost me $225 - I really should have ask how much it was before I loaded it into the truck! :wink:

Big box plywood is running ~$70/sheet here, which isn’t terrible, but more than the $55 I remember paying pre-pandemic.

Lower grade hardwood is certainly much less expensive that plywood these days, which is crazy.


It’s because you don’t build houses out of hardwood :smiley:

My new house lumber went up another 25K since Jan 1. It has gone down some over last summer but it’s back up again now.

Same story here in Oregon. $59/sheet for 3/4" MDF, $67/sheet for cheap plywood I wouldn’t skin a shed with. Anything looking like real plywood or with “Birch” in the description is automatically over $100/sheet. Looks like my 48x54 enclosure will cost me over $600 in just wood.

The prices on composite and aluminum sheet I intend to cut production parts from are even worse. 6061 is hovering around $110 for a 24x24 1/8" sheet. Good quality fiberglass free domestic carbon is about $300/sheet at the same size. :hot_face:

For MDO check with a supply company that deals with cement products. It’s used for foundation forms. The woodworking places that sell it, last summer prices, were around $100 for a 3/4" sheet. I paid under $70 from a local cement company supplier. They had both MDO and HDO.

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May as well make it a Pappy!

Now the cement folks is a good tip!