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Author Topic: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?  (Read 19952 times)

croakle

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Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« on: July 06, 2006, 08:19:10 PM »

Can anybody tell me what is the difference between birch ply and lite ply please?? I am familiar with birch ply but not with the term lite ply.

Thanks and best wishes

Julian
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CAD2

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2006, 09:51:05 PM »

Julian
In short, everything is different. Briefly, birch ply (or what we boaties refer to as such) is made from laminations of wood, faced with Finnish birch. There are generally at least three equally thick layers but this can increase to over 11 for the very thick sheet (i.e. 12mm plus). It is glued together with a resin adhesive which sets very hard and prevents the laminations from coming apart in damp/wet conditions. It is heavy and quite a chore to cut without a power saw, but it is very tough and an ideal material for most hard-chine wooden model boats.
Liteply was first produced to make jigsaws (the sort with lots of pieces which fit together, not the vibrating saw). It is a much less dense material and is not water-resistant. The "glue" between laminations is probably acrylic or water based. It is available to the modeller but only in thicknesses up to 6mm, and the core layer is usually much thicker than the two outer ones. Where it scores over birch ply is that it is much lighter and easier to cut; it also bends easily if you steam or warm it and it retains that shape afterwards. For bulkheads there is much to recommend liteply, provided that you use a decent aliphatic resin glue and make sure you waterproof it thoroughly. For skinning, however, it doesn't have the impact strength of a resin-bonded ply unless you use a much thicker material e.g. I'd use 2mm liteply where I might use 0.8mm marine ply.
You can buy Liteply by mail-order from SLEC in Watton, Norfolk.
CAD2
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croakle

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2006, 10:06:32 PM »

Thank you CAD2 for the comprehensive answer.  I found the Slec website earlier this evening and I am sure I will use them if they can suppy smallish bits.

Best wishes

Julian
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maninthestreet

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2006, 11:10:19 PM »

I thought liteply was a balsa core sandwiched between thin ply faces? 
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CAD2

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2006, 11:18:37 PM »

Not the stuff which SLEC sell. Balsa is just too expensive and unreliable in terms of its density to use in this material (which was "invented" solely to be a cheap substitute for cardboard in jigsaws). I was once told what sort of timber is used, but the name was about nine syllables long and meant nowt to me! I do recall that only about three mills in the whole world manufacture the stuff and that two of them are in Spain.
CAD2
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barryfoote

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009, 03:32:54 PM »

What a cracking question and one I have just asked FLJ......Thanks Dave but I have the answer and a stockist not 2 miles from where I am sitting...

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FullLeatherJacket

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009, 04:53:20 PM »

And who do you think CAD2 is/was, Barry  ;)
FLJ

('CAD1' is Lawrie White of Model Slipway, BTW).
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andrewh

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2009, 05:09:54 PM »

Every day (if you are not careful) you learn something new :}

As a plane freak I can say that liteply is used extensively in the larger planes - often laser-cut or milled as fuselage bits.  It is basically thick, light and stiff (enough) but we still chop out the middles of all big bits.

Its also soft enough to be cut easily with a knife

It has been used in boats as the main material - I think there was  a plan or two in the last few years.  Even if the adhesive is not waterproof, it is no worse than white glue, and both need to be welll sealed and painted.
andrew
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barryfoote

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2009, 06:07:04 PM »

And who do you think CAD2 is/was, Barry  ;)
FLJ

('CAD1' is Lawrie White of Model Slipway, BTW).

Well I'll be blowed CAD2/FLJ.....We really do live and learn.......What a good day today has turned out to be. Another great service from ACTion....and I never spent any money!!!YET :-)) :-))
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Microyacht

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2010, 08:39:38 PM »

 . . . . Being a pauper on a tight budget, I use Liteply for all my boats. As said, it is very light in weight and easy to cut. I get mine, mainly 2mm from the Balsa Cabin in Maldon, Essex. I cut straight line cuts with a knife and curves with a hacksaw blade in a handle. I've also tried Birchply and it is very hard by comparison to cut.

36" ECOcat (sail):



My latest and only non-sail boat, a cape Codder Houseboat at lower deck+hull stage (another level to go!):



None of my boats live on the water and as I keep them well covered in paint, there's never been a problem.

So, there are only 3 manufacturers of Liteply in the world, what is it made for? Is it specifically for modelmaking or is there another use?





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Greggy1964

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2010, 10:25:55 AM »

Birch ply is aircraft quality multi layered plywood bonded to Lloyds highest standard and is brilliant for modelling purposes.

It comes in thicknesses ranging for 1/32" up to 1/2" and is great to work with, the thinner grades can be cut with a decent pair of sharp scissors just like cardboard.

When I first discovered it I ditched balsawood in favour of this wonderful material.

Lite ply completely the opposite of the same scale, it is rubbish and not worth a light in my humble opinion! :-))
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Circlip

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2010, 11:25:29 AM »

Wersn't Liteply generated for the toy Aero fraternity?? Tougher than Balsa for a given thickness.

  Regards  Ian.
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FullLeatherJacket

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2010, 11:37:13 AM »

Wersn't Liteply generated for the toy Aero fraternity?? Tougher than Balsa for a given thickness.
The reply from CAD2 above gives this information.

Greggy1964
Liteply, balsawood and birch ply are quite different materials, as discussed, and have their own particular strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn't use birch ply for the wing ribs in a 36" span model aircraft, but I wouldn't use balsa to skin a 46" Huntsman hull. To to call one material "rubbish" is therefore not really valid without further qualifying the application.
FLJ
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Circlip

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2010, 04:17:33 PM »

DOH, thanks FLJ, that's three of us that didn't read ALL the post.

  Regards  Ian.
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Greggy1964

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2010, 05:10:40 PM »

My opinion is of course a personal one gained from my own experiences and I don't expect it to be taken as gospel. :-))

I have built model boats mainly and some model aircraft from scratch for 34 years on and off and liteply is the last medium I would choose with which to build a model boat.

I first came across the stuff when asked to build a high wing trainer model aircraft kit for a friend and lite ply was well suited to that job.

The wood splinters easily and has a soft mushy core.

It absorbs water like a sponge making it heavy unless completely encapsulated in epoxy or some such gubbins.

It is non durable as is the glue that holds it together making it most unsuitable for the marine environment.

If you are putting so much effort into building your pride and joy from scratch, you want it to last a good many years, or I do anyway O0

Of course we all choose materials to suit budget and the task required of it and I take my hat off to anyone exploring medium choice and new materials.

I just don't like lite ply O0 :-) for marine purposes.

Its just that by the time you have spent money on gubbins to protect liteply from the elements you might well have chosen a more expensive but more durable material in the first place.
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John W E

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2010, 06:54:08 PM »

Hi there Greggy1964

I can appreciate that it is your own personal view about Liteply but I do strongly disagree with your comments this time - about the use of Lite ply in marine use.

I can assure you there have been several models such as The Swordsman which is mentioned in plan for beginners and they are completely built of Liteply & The Shamrock build for Model Boats Magazine was also built using Liteply and neither models have been built using any special glues - just the bogstandard Evostik Resin W - white glue.   As Richard/DickyD will confirm I have many a time thrown the Swordsman into the Lake, given it a good soaking and treat it quite unrespectfully  8) and it is still all in one piece, good as the day she was built.

As far as working with the material is concerned, I find it very easy to cut as long as I kept the blades sharpened.  Very little splintering.

As the saying goes though - everyone to his own choice.   :-))   But I would not dismiss Liteply when considering building materials.

I am considering using it for a new hydro-plane build.  :-))

aye
john e
bluebird
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DickyD

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2010, 09:23:11 PM »

I confirm that John launching his boats is somewhat brutal, they normally enter the water about ten foot from the shore.

Trouble is he wants to launch everyone else's the same way. :-))
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riggers24

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2010, 08:59:21 AM »

If there isn't water on the roof of the bridge it isn't a good launch, the first time I witnessed this launch was on the Boston Blenheim and it is the norm for all of his smaller models.


Riggers
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I will finish the crash tender someday - Still got tooo many toys to play with

steamboatbob

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2011, 02:35:56 AM »

just my 2 cents but after building a few model boats using balsa, marine ply and lite ply i have come to the conclusion that balsa is useless, marine ply is heavy but very solid so i use 3mm marine ply for all chines stringers and framework and skin everything in liteply .8mm to 1.5mm depending on where it is situated in the boat obviously i use the thicker stuff where contact with water or objects on the water can happen. and as to the strength of it i coat all my boats with marine grade resin it adds a little weight but i can live with that.
to be honest the main difference is the finish as birch ply uses birch only in the outer layers there is no real strength difference, also the birch ply has a nicer woodgrain finish and you can be assured that it wont have knot holes or other defects in it as the lite ply can
the only difference will come if you use balsa or ply. so if you want a Birch woodgrain finish go with the birch ply if you are going to paint go with the lite ply. or whatever is the cheapest that you can source it really comes down to the coating that you put on the outside of it to finish the surface.
the evidence i have to support this is here  this is a hull made from balsa after it hit a concrete wall at speed



i was running one of my incarnations of my mini dictator built out of 1.5 and 0.8mm lite ply and by sheer accident i ran into the side of a yacht the damage to my boat was minimal it took 5 mins to fix it up with a little 24 hour adhesive the yacht on the other hand was decimated. the fibreglass hull had a massive hole in it and ripped it open from bow to transom at the deck to hull line and also ripped the keel box open and the servo tray was destroyed in the process i will only say i was so ashamed of myself that day and the little dictator sponson only tor apart the balsa stringer that was holding it on no ply was harmed in this incident

Just my 2 cents

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Onetenor

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2016, 09:42:45 PM »

Hi there Greggy1964

I can appreciate that it is your own personal view about Liteply but I do strongly disagree with your comments this time - about the use of Lite ply in marine use.

I can assure you there have been several models such as The Swordsman which is mentioned in plan for beginners and they are completely built of Liteply & The Shamrock build for Model Boats Magazine was also built using Liteply and neither models have been built using any special glues - just the bogstandard Evostik Resin W - white glue.   As Richard/DickyD will confirm I have many a time thrown the Swordsman into the Lake, given it a good soaking and treat it quite unrespectfully  8) and it is still all in one piece, good as the day she was built.

As far as working with the material is concerned, I find it very easy to cut as long as I kept the blades sharpened.  Very little splintering.

As the saying goes though - everyone to his own choice.   :-))   But I would not dismiss Liteply when considering building materials.

I am considering using it for a new hydro-plane build.  :-))

aye
john e
bluebird
Try it for the one I was looking for Skater by Vic Reeves Ideal for the sponsons/floats  John
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inertia

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2016, 08:32:20 AM »

I would be very interested to know where you can buy 0.8mm and 1.5mm liteply. The thinnest I know of comes from SLEC and is 2mm thick. I see that 'steamboatbob' hasn't been active on the forum for 4 years so we may never find out from him.
DM
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Stavros

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2016, 09:48:37 AM »

Have you tried the balsa cabin Dave


Dave
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inertia

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Re: Birch ply, Lite ply, what's the difference?
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2016, 10:42:45 AM »

Have you tried the balsa cabin Dave
Dave
Not until you mentioned it, as I can obtain Liteply from SLEC at an 'advantageous' price  ok2
I just checked Balsa Cabin and their thinnest is also 2mm. I'm coming to the conclusion that what steamboatbob used wasn't actually liteply at all.
DM
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