In my last two kitchens, due to price increases, I've been using a modified back. Normally I use 1/2" glued and stapled flush. I still use 1/2" on uppers, but on the lowers I've switched to 1/4" with a glued 1/4" nailer applied on the outside of the back - similar to putting a traditional 3/4" nailer on the outside. This provides a 5" section where a screw won't pull thru.
My plywood costs are getting out of control - $45/sheet 1/2" bare maple, $55 1/2" prefinished maple. The 1/2" prices are approaching my 3/4" prices. I can get away with the 1/4" prefinished on the lowers with the glued on nailer. I'm curious if anyone else uses this method. It seems like a real money saver. I cut my backs 5" taller and then rip the extra 5" off and staple/glue it right over the back.
From contributor A:
As a standard, we use 1/4" backs dadoed in with 1/2" nailers on the back side. I guess the 1/4" would work the way you describe it as long as the nailer is glued. It sounds like you need a new supplier. What part of the country are you in?
In any case, we tried this years ago and found that it ended up costing us money, once we looked at the separate storage, cut-off sorting, additional cuts for the nailers, etc. It was costing us more in processing than having all one size. Not to mention, it became a royal pain. Also, if you order less sheets of the 1/2" to order the 1/4", depending on your supplier, it might affect what you are getting the 1/2" for. Instead, use it as a negotiating tool with your supplier. They make more on the 1/2", so tell him what you are considering, which would generate less revenue for the distributor and less commission for the rep, and tell him you would rather continue ordering the 1/2", and he might generate a discount. Don't ask if he'll discount it, but how much of a discount if you continue ordering the 1/2", instead of reducing the 1/2" order, in favor of the 1/4". You never know until you ask. In our case, we stock only 3/4", as anything we make with 1/2", we can make with 3/4". Itís easier on ordering, stocking, etc., plus it's one more distinguishing factor for the customer.
I did see a new Ultra Light Plywood that was developed for the high end RV manufacturing trade, 3/4" Luan looking like stuff for $29 a sheet. It looks like a 9 ply, very flat, no defects, and the 1/2" is $27. Normally I use 3/4" Maple ply (C-3) at $40 a sheet, but this stuff looks great, and those few Melamine jobs are so heavy. I might go with this new stuff. I'll go for the new ultra strong, ultra light stuff and save my back, and at $10 a sheet savings thereís not much argument. Besides customers like the fact it's new, high tech (sort of) and it was made for million dollar RV's. I didn't catch the name of this stuff, but I do have samples and it's in stock, and easy to get around here. Emerson Hardwoods out of Oregon carries it.
Somebody way smarter than me had the saying "when you buy the best you only cry once"!
I don't do a huge volume and as such I pay much more than you. The kitchen I am building now cost me about $68 a sheet for 3/4" and $69 for 1/2" all prefinished 2 good sides. The 3/4" is less than the 1/2" b/c I bought a full bunk. My costs for building stay the same. It seems like you would lose the cost advantage of 1/4" ply by extra labor in cutting and assembling the nailing strips?
And how much is the additional cost for the whole kitchen? If prices go up $10 a sheet for the 1/2" and you use say 6 - 10 sheets for a kitchen, that's $60 - $100 for a $10-20k job. If I am bidding a kitchen at $14,300 or $14,370 I don't think it's going to make or break my chances of getting it. Things cost what they cost, and I try to build quality at a good value to the client. I'll use a less expensive slide, say a 3/4 extension instead of the full extension to save the client money, but I won't reduce overall quality.