Weight can be a factor when selecting a specific plywood product and thickness for a project. The heavier the plywood, the stronger the structure needed to support it. This isn’t an issue in many cases, as the structure is more than sufficient to hold the weight. But if you’re not careful, you could cause yourself serious problems, because you didn’t stop to ensure that the structure can hold the plywood’s weight. It can also be a factor in your construction process, as carrying heavy sheets of plywood up ladders or scaffolding can be difficult and dangerous.
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What makes plywood heavier than its equivalent in solid wood products is the plywood’s density. This higher density usually comes from the type of wood that is used to make up the core veneers. In addition, all the veneers of the plywood are bonded together with a rosin adhesive, which usually has a higher density than the wood veneer does. Put together, we get an overall density that surpasses all but the densest of hardwoods.
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Due to the difference in manufacturing methods for the various plywood products, different sheets from different mills can vary considerably in weight. This difference is created mostly by the amount of resins and/or glues used to hold the wood together, as they can be considerably heavier than the wood or wood fibers. Therefore, the greater the percentage of glue or resin found in the plywood product, the greater the overall weight of the plywood.
Considering that a full sheet of plywood can weigh upwards of 80 pounds, care must be taken when working with it, especially when working alone. Improper handling of plywood can cause severe back injuries, incapacitating you for a considerable amount of time.
Softwood plywood weight chart
Let’s start with the most common plywood product, softwood plywood. The APA (American Plywood Association) has created design specifications for the production of various plywood products. In it, they state that softwood plywood should weigh approximately 3 pounds per square foot, per inch of thickness. Actual plywood sheets weigh slightly less, as the specification is for pre-sanded sheets. As much as 1/32” of overall thickness can be lost in the sanding process. The organization offers a bunch of technical information and educative content.To compare and visualize the difference in weight and thickness, look at the following tables below.
In the next chart, we’re going to compare the weight of other plywood products to Softwood plywood. For the sake of simplicity, we’re only going to compare 1/2” thick plywood. Click to sort by plywood weight or percentage.
|Softwood Plywood||40.6 lbs||100%|
|Hardwood Plywood||45 lbs||111%|
|Marine Plywood||50 lbs||123%|
|Particle Board||61 lbs||150%|
|Baltic Birch||48 lbs||118%|
Note the weight may greatly impact the price. Weight chart is closely related to the price chart.
Based upon these two tables, we can now figure the weight for a variety of plywood types and thicknesses, shown in the table below, in ascending order of weight. Softwood plywood is highlighted, as it is the standard that everything else is compared to.
|Hardwood plywood *||24.4||31.6||45.1||53.3||67.5||93.8|
*Hardwood plywood can actually vary considerably in weight and density, due to the particular construction of the plywood. A variety of different core constructions and materials are used, causing these variations. For example, hardwood plywood made with a birch core, has a density of between 650 and 700 kilograms per cubic meter, while another sheet of plywood which seems the same, but has a poplar core, will have a density of between 500 and 530 kilograms per cubic meter.
Please note that this chart doesn’t cover HDF (High Density Fiberboard), otherwise known as hardboard, simply because it is only sold in thinner sheets than other plywood products. The high density of this product makes it heavier than most other plywood products of the same weight.
Hardboard panel weight chart
After selecting the type of wood, please enter thickness, width and length with appropriate units of measure (inch, foot, millimeter, centimeter, meter) in order to calculate weight. Results in pounds and kilos are available. Important note: as wood density varies depending on contents of moisture, tolerances for actual weight may vary by as much as 20%. If you wish to use this calculator on your website, please contact us.
Alder Alder, high moisture Apple Apple, high moisture Ash, white Ash, black Aspen Balsa Bamboo Bamboo, high moisture Basswood Basswood, high moisture Beech Beech, high moisture Birch Butternut Cedar, Western Red Cherry Cherry, high moisture Chestnut Cottonwood Cypress Dogwood Douglas Fir Ebony Ebony, high moisture Elm Gum, black red Gum, blue Hackberry Hickory Hickory, high moisture Holly Juniper Larch Lignum Vitae Locust Logwood Luan, Philippine Red Madrone Magnolia Mahogany, African Mahogany, African high moisture Mahogany, Cuba Honduras Mahogany, Spanish Maple Maple, high moisture MDF, light MDF, heavy Myrtle Oak Oak, high moisture Oak, English American OSB, standard OSB, light OSB, heavy Pear Pear, high moisture Pecan Persimmon Pine, pitch Pine, white yellow Pine, white high moisture Pine, yellow high moisture Plum Poplar Poplar, high moisture Redwood, American Redwood, European Rosewood, Bolivian Rosewood, East Indian Satinwood Spruce Spruce, high moisture Spruce, Canadian Norway Sitka Sycamore Sycamore, high moisture Tanguile Teak, Burma India Teak, African Walnut Walnut, Claro Walnut, European Water gum Willow Willow, high moisture Zebrawood
Plywood weight to strength
It is natural to think that the weight of plywood impacts its strength; but this is untrue. Since the major weight in any type of plywood product is from the rosin and adhesive used in its manufacture, higher weight merely indicates that the plywood in question has more rosin in it and less wood fiber. Since it is the wood fiber that gives the plywood its strength, a lower percentage of wood fiber makes a weaker plywood product.
The actual strength of anything produced out of plywood is due to a combination of things, including the type of plywood used and the thickness of the plywood. But even more important than that, is the way that the plywood is supported. Without proper support, most plywood products can’t support a long span of their own weight, without sagging.
One of the easiest ways of supporting a piece of plywood, which is being used as a shelf, is to attach a piece of 1”x 2”, 1”x 4” or a strip of cut plywood, to the edge of the shelf, mounted at 90 degrees to the surface of the shelf itself. This moves the vertical centerline of the shelf to the middle of that added on piece. That, in turn, means that the bulk of the material is moved away from that centerline, where it can fight against sagging better. Two such pieces, attached to both the front and back edges make the shelf even stronger.
This addition of material perpendicular to the surface of the shelf will do more to make a shelf stronger, than adding additional supports. At the same time, you don’t end up with the space problem that those supports can cause, getting in the way of whatever you want to store on that shelf.
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As you can see from the diagram above, the J-Hook is extremely simple, consisting of a piece of plywood, with a spacer and lip attached at the bottom end. Two door or cabinet hinges or a single piano hinge are used to attach it to the side of the cart. The mounting should be aligned so that the top of the lift will be flush with the top of the cart, when it is lifted horizontally.
The other important detail is to make the length of the lift such that the sheet of plywood ends up centered on your cart, when lifted to the upright position. A notch for your hand, in the center of the J-Hook, will make it easier to work with.
To load a piece of plywood to the horizontal, first lock the casters on the cart, so it won’t move. Then set the sheet in the it in the J-Hook, centering it. Finally, swing the J-Hook up to the horizontal, setting the sheet of plywood, centered, on the cart. Once it is set on the cart, the J-Hook can be allowed to fall back down to the side of the cart.
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Clamp it for assembly
Sometime in just about any plywood project, there will be a time when you have to attach two pieces together at a right angle. Holding those two pieces together, by yourself, while drilling and screwing the pieces together is challenging enough to try the patience of a job. But you can make that job a breeze, with a simple jig and some small ratcheting bar clamps.
The jig consists of two pieces of scrap plywood, screwed together to make a right angle (90 degrees). A couple of triangles of scrap plywood are attached between them, spaced out as shown in the leftmost view in the diagram. It is critical that the 90 degree corner on these two triangular pieces be exactly 90 degrees, as they will pull the two main pieces to meet them. Check it with a good square to make sure that you’re getting exactly 90 degrees, or this jig will end up making your projects out of square.
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I’ve got a few different jigs like this, in different sizes, in my workshop. They can be attached to the bench top with clamps, then have the pieces I’m working on clamped to them or on larger projects they can be clamped to two pieces that I need to clamp together. In either case, they provide an excellent way of holding the two pieces of plywood in position, while they are being joined together.