Plywood panel construction is dictated by the needs of the customer, and with those needs come a slew of build requirements. At Timber Products Company, we look at these requirements and decide how best to manufacture the order so it meets the quality, appearance and price targets of the client. Once order specifications are met, the decision to go with a one-step or two-step construction is determined. But, what is the difference?
A step means the panel has gone through the entire manufacturing process: lay-up, press, trim and sanding. For one-step, the panel goes through the manufacturing process and is then graded and delivered. Two-step means the core is pressed in the first step and is then patched and sanded, before being returned to have the front and back veneers applied by the press during the second step. Finally, it is finished, graded and delivered.
The one-step process costs less, which is an important factor for many applications. It uses a thicker rotary cut veneer, great for common, less expensive wood species such as maple, oak and birch. With thicker outer veneers, the core does not need to be as smooth and uniform and there is a slimmer possibility of telegraphing (where the core color and surface finish show through).
We will use the two-step process if the panel requirements call for a high-end wood species, a higher quality face and/or a tighter thickness tolerance. Being able to sand and repair the core prior to adding the final veneers creates considerable process control. Using a more exotic veneer costs more, therefore the veneer is cut thinner using a slicer instead of a rotary cutter. With the rotary cutter, a less expensive veneer is used, but better control of the core is required. For most two-step products, we use a core made of domestic wood. For very high-end products—about 5% of production—a tropical Luan with no cross band defects is used.
As an alternative to a traditional plywood veneer panel core, we also offer a Pro-Core panel in both the one- and two-step processes. Pro-Core uses an inner core blank made of veneer with MDF on both sides. This gives some of the best attributes of veneer cores, yet with the smoothness of MDF.
Have a big project and need to know which process is best for you? Reach out to us with details so our sales team can help you find the best fit for your project.