Wood can be cut and bought in countless varieties, but few are as useful for building as plywood sheeting. A versatile, strong and attractive use of the material, these cut-to-size boards have been a staple of Woodshop Direct for some time. In this entry of our blog, we’ll tell you exactly what plywood sheeting is, what it’s used for and why it's so popular.
What is ‘plywood’?
Plywood is essentially several individual layers of veneer wood that have been glued together. A typical plywood panel has face veneers of a higher grade than the core veneers; the particular reason for this specific make-up is it increases tolerance to bending, improves the stress levels of the board and reduces warping. This means the plywood won’t split when the edges are nailed, but because it can easily bend at the grain it’s often used to create curved surfaces.
What is it used for?
Plywood is used in many applications that need high-quality, high-strength sheet material. This includes Furniture, Kitchen Cabinets, Wall/Ceiling Claddings, Fascia’s, Model making, Roofing and general joinery. Like anything else, plywood boards will differ in application depending on the type of wood used. For example, Trada Q-mark Hardwood Plywood (WBP) is consistent enough for building sheds, whilst Gaboon Marine Plywood is unique among other varieties in that is resistant to high moisture environments, and is thus suitable for Boat Building, Dock Construction.
How is it made?
When creating plywood, Each layer of ‘ply’ is often oriented with the grain running at right angles to the adjacent layer. This is hugely important in reducing the shrinkage, and heightening the strength of the finished piece. The gluing can be done manually or semi-automatically with the aid of machines. In a basic process, the back veneer is laid flat and a glue spreader applies layer of glue to the upper surface. The short sections of core veneer are then laid crossways on top of the glued back, and the whole sheet is run through the glue spreader a second time. Our own plywood is created using weather and boil proof adhesive.
How long has it been in use?
Combining thin layers of wood together for construction purposes dates back to roughly 1500 B.C., when Egyptian builders would use a primitive version of plywood on the exterior of King Tut-Ankh-Amon’s cedar casket. Greeks and Romans would improve upon the method, and use it to create high quality furniture - in fact the use of decorating furniture with thin pieces of wood became known in the 1600’s as ‘veneering’, hence why the pieces themselves are known as veneers.