Termite Infestation Is Imported Plywood to Blame?

      Termites need a source of water to survive, so they are unlikely to arrive in plywood shipped from overseas. August 19, 2013

For years we in the Bahamas have been using a specific material to construct our frameless cabinet carcasses. It is 11/16" thick virola plywood with a sheet of thin white Formica pre-adhered to it. This stuff is imported from China and sold here like crazy. We found over the years that most clients prefer a white plastic interior. Thing is, we have been getting quite a few call backs saying that there are termites in our cabinets. Sure, there are a lot of other factors involved, like were there termites in the building before. But I need to find out - is virola more prone to termites? Could these insects have been in the wood from China? Lastly, does anyone sell 3/4" birch pre-laminated with Formica? I don't want to use melamine/particleboard crap.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Wow, does this strike a chord with me. I've got another cabinet shop just up the road from me that really, really, really gets me ticked off.

We are a custom frameless shop (but did face frame for 15 years, so no real issue with that) and this guy is of course a frame shop, and always running that big mouth, constantly bashing my product. I have no issue with a properly designed and executed face frame cabinet. I don't even mind losing a job to a face frame shop, if that is what the customer wants.

This guy used, in the past, 1/2" virola or okume, depending on lowest price available in the market, and has recently used 1/2" CDX for case materials, butt joined staple construction, fixed shelves, with 1/8" luan plant on backs.

I build a confirmat screwed particleboard or PBC or MDFC thermofused melamine case, dado captured 1/4" back, hot glued with 3/4 concealed nailer strip and box mount hinges and slides. Is the average customer too stupid to noticed the difference? How do you get to be 40-50-60 years old and able to afford custom cabinetry and be so gullible and blind to fall for the "all wood" pitch, and be unable to see a clear difference in products?

He had one that got a plumbing leak and they couldn't figure out it was bacteria in the okume plywood stinking to high heaven (I guess that prompted the move to the CDX). They assumed a dead animal in the wall, I guess as big as a human body, decomposing, and tearing cabinets and drywall out to try and find it. How's that "all wood" working for you, now?

From the original questioner:
I know exactly how you feel. I lost count the amount of times we bid on jobs and lose them to the other guy who is building cabinets like he would a crate! I have seen everything - roofing plywood for frames and doors was the funniest! Of course in many cases, these same clients called us back a year later to tear out that piece of crap!

I want to find a supplier who sells good quality 3/4" birch pre-laminated with white vinyl liner or something similar that I can use for frameless cabinet interiors. The only supplier I have seen for this type of product came as 3/4" virola with thin white Formica already adhered to 1 or both sides. I'm trying to stay away from the China stuff.

From Professor Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
Virola has no natural decay resistance. It is not known to be more attractive than any other wood without natural resistance. Termites need a water source, so was there a leak in or near the cabinets? Material from China would not have a water source, so no termites coming over or when you are making.

From contributor M

Click to View Member Profile Member Contact Info

This isn't exactly what you asked for, but may work for you. I have used all three with good results.

Olympic Panel Products cabinet liner plywood
Tim ber Products ProCore
Roseburg Forest Products CFC Veneer Core

I have gotten the ones from Timber and Roseburg with melamine faces and they have worked great and been very durable.

From the original questioner:
Thanks Gene! Wish I could get you to tell my clients that directly! Do you have any literature that says that, something I can take to my clients?

Contributor M, these products seem to be exactly what I have been looking for. I am checking out the Olypanels now. What kind of prices were you getting from them?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I would be glad to send you or them an e-mail answering any specific questions - no charge.

From contributor M

Click to View Member Profile Member Contact Info

I actually buy through one of my distributors here that stocks it. Last time I bought some it was $54 for G1S and $65 for G2S. That was for the basic white.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: General

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2018 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article