As we live in the Holocene epoch, quaternary period and Cenozoic era, one might wonder how the wooden industry is thriving when people are interested in modern materials and changing trends. For thousands of years, wood has been the most favoured building material in most parts of the world. Even though 20th century saw a transition towards brick, concrete and steel, wood as a building material has become extremely popular in the 21st century.
Our company focuses mainly on wooden construction, be it traditional or contemporary designs, we work on it “like a boss”. But before diving into the world of solid wood construction and how it compares to that of plywood construction, let’s first looks into the terms “Solid Wood” and “Plywood” so as to understand their differences.
Solid Wood is a natural wood obtained from trees. The timber logs from the felled trees are cut to desired sizes in saw mill and are dried in hightemperatures. Solid wood is generally subjected to heat to reduce the moisture content in them and to give it a certain strength and stability. Even after the seasoning is done, it is still susceptible to shrinkage and expansion due to weather or seasonal fluctuations.
Plywood is an engineering wood product manufactured from hardwood, softwood or both. In order to make that, thin layers of veneers are laid in alternate directions and bonded with glue. Because of its bonding method, it is less susceptible to shrinkage and expansion.
Fig.3 represents how plywood sheets are being used as backing material for the solid wood to be fixed on.
So now one might wonder as to why plywood is used instead of just having a solid wood structure. Why go through the trouble of manufacturing an engineered wood product instead of using solid wood which is obtained from naturally felled trees? Well, there are many reasons and among them are cost, time and appearance.
Solid wood is comparatively stronger than plywood. A furniture made from solid wood will sag less than one made with plywood. There is also a possibility of cracks developing on solid wood due to atmospheric conditions if it isn’t seasoned well. Due to the glue sticking on alternate veneer layers plywood doesn’t go through this but there are chances of the layers getting separated due to damp environment.
A solid wood can be cut in different directions and can also be used to make curvy furniture as required by the design, something that is not possible with plywood. A solid wood can also be cut into thin pieces of wood whereas a plywood is manufactured into standard sizes.
REACTION TO FIRE
A structure constructed with only solid wood doesn’t react to the fire as the plywood does. Only the outer layer of the solid wood burns while the inner part of it remains untouched, whereas plywood is more vulnerable due to the flammable glue used to bond the veneer sheets. Fire resistant chemical coating can be applied to plywood when needed.
USAGE IN DIFFERENT AREAS
There have been cases where long pieces of plywood are seen to have a tendency to bend or sag in the middle. Better choice for such cases is to use hardwood or softwood
Solid wood works well on chairs, tables, book shelves, Tv units and desks.
In certain situations, plywood is also used to fill up the hollow and unwanted spaces by boxing it up.
For the past few months, I have been working with wood, and to be frank, it amazes me even now!! It is wondrous how a few blocks of wood can be transfigured into something truly spectacular. This is coming from a person whose earlier perception of wooden furniture or wooden interior was just “a big block of wood carved out”. Oh Yes! I had little to no knowledge about wood. But, this changed when my brain started absorbing and processing all the details that goes into manufacturing a wooden structure and it is only when someone has got hands-on experience on this, will they actually understand, that it is not just hardwood or softwood that is being used to create a structure, but plywood also has a major role in it. There are times when plywood is used in the production of a hardwood or softwood structure. For instance, a solid wood ceiling cannot be fixed directly onto a false ceiling. In this scenario, a plywood framework (it doesn’t add much to the load as it is much lighter than the solid wood pieces) is created on the ceiling and then the solid wood pieces are fixed on it.
In conclusion, even though the properties of each may vary greatly but they somehow complement each other when used in a single structure.