Quoted from High_End_Pins:
Not really if helps some but primer can only do so much so the perfecting starts at the ground floor.
You have to strip it with proper technique so you don’t make more work for yourself.
Yeah, I used heat and the decal came clean, but after sanding, the top surface of the ply would open and become porous.. rather than just smoothing like a solid wood would do. Even at 220 or 300+ grit, it would have these pockets in the surface. It worked a lot more like those red toned 1/4" project panel pieces do.. rather than a solid plywood. I skim coated the thing to fill and flatten, but it was a lot more work vs just the 'spot patch' I see most getting away with. The skim, sand, prime, sand... then still not be happy and prime, sand, sand was more than I really cared for
My other lesson learned was.. if you bother flattening the cabinet... do ALL the surfaces. The places you don't, sure stand out afterwards.. even if they were just factory finish (like front edge of the head, etc)
Thx for taking the time for Q&A along the way Chris