Plywood is a type of wood that is engineered in such a way that it is well-suited to a wide variety of applications. Plywood is manufactured by adhering multiple layers of wood veneer – extremely thin layers of wood – to one another with a special type of durable glue. When the veneer layers are glued together, they are usually attached with their grain patterns at right angles to one another because this positioning increases strength and reduces the possibility for warpage, cracking, shrinking, twisting, and other types of damage to which non-plywoods are usually susceptible.
Plywood was designed to be stronger than non-engineered wood, and hardwood plywood in particular is very stable. Unlike most species of wood, plywood is largely impervious to the movements, shifting, and checking that can be caused by changes in temperature and humidity. Because of this stability, hardwood plywood is a “go-to” wood choice for craftsmen in a variety of industries, especially those in which the final projects are expected to perform under tight tolerances, such as door panels trapped within rails and stiles.
Other industries, such as the flooring industry, benefit from plywood’s exceptional strength, and the wood is often used as a strong and reliable base layer. Unlike marine grade plywood, which is specially designed to be flexible enough to bend to meet the specifications of the boating industry, most types of hardwood plywood are not very flexible. Although there are exceptions to this rule, hardwood plywood is generally quite difficult to bend. Again, though, the fact that it is so strong is definitely part of its appeal.
Many types of hardwood plywood are manufactured by gluing thin layers of a durable and inexpensive hardwood together and a single layer of a more highly sought after type of wood on each end. This gives the entire hardwood plywood board the appearance of a more expensive type of wood, making it easy to match to the rest of the project’s lumber, but it keeps costs down by filling the inner layers, which remain unseen, with an inexpensive (yet fully functional) type of wood veneer. This is not always the case, however, and some companies manufacture hardwood plywood where the entire core of veneer layers is made from the same type of wood as the outside layers.
According to the J Gibson McIlvain Company, a centuries-old wholesaler of high quality lumber, the most commonly requested types of hardwood plywood are Cherry, Natural Birch, African Mahogany, Red Oak, Natural Maple, Sapele, White Maple, White Birch, Walnut, and White Oak. These plywoods are, of course, available in a multitude of sizes and thicknesses, making hardwood plywood a great option for a wide range of applications.