can I sand plywood?

I recently found an 'ugly' upholstered toy chest/box at a flea market and when I took the fabric off I was disappointed to see that there wasn't real wood beneath it, but plywood. :( Can I sand it smooth and stain it to look pretty or should I just cover it up with fabric?
  7 answers
  • Recaptured Charm Recaptured Charm on Aug 28, 2012
    I don't think you'll ever get plywood sanded right down without any grooves or splinters. If you don't mind a rustic look you can sand it down as best as you can, give it a good top coat of polyurethane, wait til that is completely dry and sand it again. The poly will fill the grooves and give a smoother feel. Give it another coat of poly just to make sure there won't be any splinters left behind. You can give it as many coats as you like as long as you give it a light sanding between coats.

  • Laura Melson Laura Melson on Aug 28, 2012
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Aug 29, 2012
    This depends on the "type" of plywood that was used...a lot of high end furniture is made from plywood. In fact I have built some great stuff with Cherry, oak and walnut ply. If the plywood is more of the "construction grade CDX" then obviously you will get some different results. If the ply does not have large voids then yes it can be sanded and stained. If it has voids I would use a filler and then sand. you could then stain or paint from there.

  • As long as the edges that expose the layers of plys of wood are not exposed you can stain it. If the edges are exposed, you can use wood hardening putty, which comes in a red can in a powder form. You mix it with water to a past consistency then apply it to the exposed plywood edges. Let dry then carefully sand smooth. once done, prime with good quality primer and paint with a roller and glossy finish. A bit of effort will make it look great. Instead of covering with cloth, you can always cover it with a hardwood veneer. It comes in large very thin panels of wood that is simply glued on with contact adhesive then stained. Bit more work, but if your willing to take the time, it can end up looking quite nice.

  • Laura Melson Laura Melson on Aug 30, 2012
    Thanks everyone... I love all the different suggestions. We'll see how it turns out!

  • Diane Diane on Apr 16, 2017
    i sanded it and applied old english scratch cover, let it bake in the sun 4 coats polycrylic

  • Allinthefamilysingers Allinthefamilysingers on Apr 17, 2017
    hey if it is good grade plywood u can sand it paint it all different bright colors of good quality paint. Will be so pretty But if is particle board or cheap board why not just reupholster it again or modpodge it. I have did that before in a really pretty fabric or wrapping paper;then put on a pretty handle and even hinges Make it look new again.good luck dhall