Hey guys! My friend wants to build a natural wood cabinet out of birch plywood and leave it untolexed. Is this a good idea by any means? I saw another thread where somebody said staining plywood was impossible so I know that's out. But can you just leave it as is?
There is nothing stopping you from doing that. Just make sure you don't take it outside for very long, and try to keep it in one place so you don't end up denting and scratching the wood. I made this computer desk I'm using out of a mixture of plywood, chipboard and MDF, only using a bit of duck tape to cover the bits I put my hands and feet on a lot and it's gone 4 years without any problems.

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Last edited by eddiehimself at Oct 30, 2013,
You can stain plywood. A friend of mine just made a table with a plywood top and stained it no problem.
Not an expert on this subject, but I do believe most cabinets are made of plywood or OSB. Both materials are fairly light (in weight) and will chip or damage easily - especially if exposed to the elements - which is why they are typically covered in tolex.

You could use a heavier or more durable wood, and you could also stain it - negating the need for tolex. This would however be significantly more expensive to build, and substantially heavier.
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There are plenty of cabs made out of solid pine that work just fine and can be stained and cleared. Plywood also stains just fine depending on the grade you get. I would only use cabinetry grade ply for a speaker cab, especially if left exposed. Stain it and apply a few coats of poly or varnish and you are good to go.
Check out Olde Crow Cabs .

Might give you some ideas
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There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't put a finish over plywood. It's just plys of wood, eh?
Perhaps they were talking about the exposed edges of the plywood being undesirable which I can see looking ugly on a standard built cabinet. If you were to use Dovetail or Box joints it looks really nice.
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Hey guys! Sorry I haven't replied yet, but I just wanted to say thank you to everybody for all the help! I haven't gotten around to this project yet! My friend disappeared it seems. But thank you all for the new knowledge!