Both plywood and wood have their uses, but they are not interchangeable!
Plywood is made by gluing wood veneers together under pressure to form a single board. It is less expensive and available in larger proportions than solid wood, making it perfect for cabinets and shelves. Solid wood is more expensive since it is cut straight from trees, yet wooden things are regarded as distinctive and of superior quality.
In my projects, I frequently employ both plywood and wood. If you're attempting to decide which to use (or which to buy), keep reading!
There are affiliate links on this blog. I may get compensated if you click and make a purchase.
The major argument for using plywood is that it allows you to utilize broader slabs. Even the biggest trees will cause issues with dimensional lumber since slabs from these trees are outrageously heavy, dimensionally unstable, and difficult to season and finish.
If you need a huge, flat piece of material, plywood is most likely what you'll use. I used plywood to make all of the sides of my workbench. Cabinetry is another typical use for plywood, but I cheated and bought the frames from Ikea for my last cabinet project. But I made the drawers out of plywood!
The only exception to this is if you want your large flat item to be the focal point of the project.
In such a situation, a stunning piece of solid wood (or a collection of smaller pieces put together) may be the best option.
Be warned, though, that large slabs of wood are prohibitively costly. If we're talking about hardwood, it's thousands of dollars. Which takes us to our next point...
Plywood is significantly more costly than natural wood alternatives such as MDF (multi-density fiberboard). However, plywood is still significantly less expensive than genuine wood.
It should be noted that in order for this to work, you must compare apples to apples. Furring strips (essentially the cheapest solid wood you can get at Home Depot) are likely to be more expensive than nice, pricey plywood.
However, cheap plywood is often less expensive than cheap wood, while fancy plywood is less expensive than fancy wood.
Plywood has a (false) reputation for being inexpensive, which, in my opinion, it is not. Even the cheapest 3/4" "sheathing plywood" for roofing and other invisible uses costs $50 for a 4'x8' sheet.
Hardwood plywood is actually rather great in terms of quality, and if you want to make a high-grade product, you're definitely better off using hardwood plywood than inexpensive softwoods.
Finally, when deciding between wood and plywood, I generally consider whether the wood or plywood will be visible.