Exciting news -
We're starting a new plywood range.
We know you're going to love the look, but before we show you what we've been up to in the design kitchen, we wanted to take share with you why we have chosen to work with plywood.
As our faithful blog readers know, sustainability is a matter not only close to our heart, but a design imperative.
With our hearts breaking over the burning Amazon right now, and as Greta Thunberg escalates her climate campaign, now more than ever, is the time to be pushing ourselves to use more sustainable wood products.
Plywood is an exciting material because not only is it a flexible, easy material for us to work with, but it is also incredibly strong. Let us fill you in.
Image credit: Bodie and Fou
What is plywood?
Plywood consists of thin sheets of wood (also known as wood veneer) which are compressed and bonded. Plywood is a versatile product which is used in construction as well as furniture manufacture because of its strength, durability, and versatility.
The concept of layering wood dates back to Egypt, 1500BC. However, the first standardized sheets of plywood were manufactured in 1928 in America.
Here's a video showing how plywood is made.
Plywood's benefits as a material
There are many benefits to plywood that make it a material we want to work with as well as a material that's going to yield a long life of enjoyment in your home.
Plywood offers the same advantages of its parent wood, but because of its laminated structure, it offers even greater stability. With the cross-grained structure of plywood, its strength is well and evenly distributed, while solid wood just tends to be stronger along the grain. Plywood is great at resisting sharp blows and all sorts of in-service abuse which makes it super durable and fairly kid- proof!
Plywood's laminated structure distributes loads from impact over a larger area. This means it even has the ability to accommodate the occasional short-term overload - up to twice its intended design load!
Image credit: Bicker Design
Clean and light, plywood is popular in Scandi style. It goes really well with a light, white colour palette and offsets greenery perfectly, creating an oasis of calm.
For all its strength, plywood is so much lighter than solid wood. That makes plywood perfect for furniture, and our design philiosophy of simple, flexible pieces that you can move around and take with you from home to home. Dense woods can be sliced and bonded into plywood panels for furniture pieces that otherwise would be far too heavy if constructed from solid timer.
Handles a curve
When you make curved surfaces using solid wood, the edges would probably be rather rough and uneven and prone to splitting. Plywood, on the other hand, can be made to fit any curved surface smoothly and easily.
Easy to work with
Ordinary solid wood swells and stretches with humidity. Often, it twists due to internal stresses, but plywood doesn't expand or contract much, because its layers are glued together with their grain running in alternating directions - a process called cross-graining. This also helps prevent warping.
Solid wood splits fairly easily along the grain. Plywood however, again due to the cross-graining, can be nailed or screwed near the edges without damage from splitting.
All of this is good news for us and for you, but even better than the functional advantages of plywood, is that plywood is good for our environment.
Image credit: fuge
Plywood is sustainable
We love wood and have always designed wood products because when properly managed, wood is the most sustainable and renewable material. It sucks up CO2 as it grows, and when harvested and treated as naturally as possible, it provides a durable, safe material for our homes. You can read more about it in our earlier post, How can chopping down trees be OK?
Plywood then, since it is made from sustainable forested wood, is likewise a sustainable material, but there are added sustainability benefits.
Plywood is made with very thin sheets of wood sliced from logs that mostly wouldn't make very good solid lumber. In this way, plywood makes the hardwood trees go further.
In addition, when cutting from nicer material for the top layers, a log still gives great mileage, as the faces are only about 1/32-inches thick.
While there is industrial processing involved in making a finished plywood panel, these resources are less significant than rearing a hardwood tree. Less wood is wasted manufacturing plywood than traditional lumber.
Plywood sheets can be made from hardwoods, softwoods, bamboo, or a combination of different wood. We choose plywood that is certified sustainable, locally sourced from European sustainably managed forests.
So plywood is super sustainable because manufacturing a sheet of workable plywood requires less wood than solid wood, meaning more timber is conserved.
Image credit: Best interior designers
At the end of its lifecycle, plywood is recyclable.
Although it is a class B form of wood since it’s been treated, if separated from other wood types it is possible to shred and then sell and recycle plywood.
For all these reasons, plywood is good for us as designers and a great choice for our customers.