Perfect ply

Sometimes, when you see something that’s great you have to get it – it just might not be there the next time you go.

This rule applies to job-lot stores, eBay, antique stores and anyplace else that deals in items sold singly or, at best, in small batches. If you see the perfect antique hammer while browsing a flea market, get it. I sure won’t be there the next time you go.

You don’t often apply this rule to large retailers. I mean, if they have the perfect Norelco razor while shopping one day at Walmart, there’s little chance it won’t be there next week. Or next year. Same for the Big Box stores. The DeWalt drill you’re looking at today will, unless DeWalt comes out with a new line, be there for a long time.

But last week I got a perfect sheet of oak veneer plywood at one of the Big Boxes. It was absolutely flat, no blemishes, a good edge all the way around and, best of all, the veneer pattern was lovely. Not that awful peel pattern you usually see, but a really nice grain that looked like solid wood. It wasn’t till I got it home and started working with it that I realized just how nice it was.

So I went back.

Sure enough, pretty much every sheet in the stack was just as nice. Now, I don’t have a lot of room for large sheet stock in my shop. But since I have to cut sheet stock just to get it in my car, pretty much all the ply I bring home is smaller than its full 4×8 size. Even at that I really can’t store more than a sheet or two in anticipation of a future project, but this stuff was so nice I just had to get two more. Got them home, wedged them into a corner, and there they sit, waiting for just the right project. (And just having them on hand is giving me several project ideas.)

However, on a routine supply run to the same Big Box store last night I saw that that stack of ply was gone. Apparently every sheet sold, and a new stack of the usual junk was in its place.

You can usually count on stock from the Big Box store to be on the crummy side, but every once in a while a really good batch slips through (like the highly figured maple I found a few years ago).

The best advice when that happens is to get it while the getting is good.

A.J.

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