What Is Manufactured Wood?

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These are the days of manufactured this and engineered that.  We see plant-based burgers and sausages at the market, engineered to look, feel, and taste like meat.  It doesn’t stop there, though, as news recently has included stories about manufactured chicken – chicken made from chicken cells.

While I have eaten plant-based burgers (I’m a vegetarian), and I like them and can’t really tell the difference from real beef, I have not eaten any chicken because it’s made from chicken cells.

Key Points:

  • Manufactured woods are made from wood…wood fibers, wood sawdust, and wood chips.  They’re bonded together with adhesives to form boards.
  • Manufactured woods are used in woodworking projects that include furniture, flooring and subflooring, cabinets, doors, trim, and more.
  • Manufactured woods are generally less expensive than the same board feet of actual wood.

When it comes to wood, we have pretty much the same thing.  Manufactured wood, made from wood.  It shows up in furniture, especially in furniture kits (desks, for instance), and we can even purchase boards of manufactured wood at the lumber yard.

There are different kinds of it, as well as engineered wood, and we’d like to dig into it a bit for you today.

What Is Manufactured Wood and How Can We Use It In Our Woodworking Shop?

Manufactured wood, sometimes referred to inaccurately as engineered wood, is a type of wood product that is made from wood fibers, sawdust, or wood chips that have been bonded together with adhesives.

It is a versatile material that can be used for a variety of applications, including furniture, flooring, cabinets, and doors.

There are many different types of manufactured wood, each with its own unique properties. Some of the most common types of manufactured wood include:

  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF): Medium-Density Fiberboard is a strong and dense material that is made from wood fibers that have been compressed under high heat and pressure. It is often used for furniture, cabinets, and other applications where a smooth, flat surface is required.  We’ve written of MDF in the past, including using wood glue on MDF, staining MDF, and using pocket holes on MDF.
  • Particleboard: Particleboard is made from wood particles that have been bonded together with adhesives. It is a less expensive option than MDF, but it is also less strong and durable. Particleboard is often used for shelving, subflooring, and other applications where strength is not as important.
  • Oriented strand board (OSB): OSB is made from wood strands that have been oriented in different directions and bonded together with adhesives. It is a strong and versatile material that is often used for sheathing, subflooring, and decking.
  • Veneer: Veneer is a thin layer of real wood that is bonded to a substrate, such as MDF or particleboard. It is often used to give manufactured wood a more natural appearance.

Manufactured wood has a number of advantages over solid wood, including:

  • Cost: Manufactured wood is generally cheaper than real wood.
  • Strength: Manufactured wood can be as strong as solid wood, and in some cases, even stronger.
  • Durability: Manufactured wood is more resistant to moisture and pests than solid wood.
  • Versatility: Manufactured wood can be used for a variety of applications.

However, manufactured wood also has some disadvantages, including:

  • Appearance: Manufactured wood may not have the same natural appearance as solid wood – no grain.
  • Formaldehyde: Some manufactured wood products contain urea-formaldehyde resin, which is a known carcinogen.
  • Recycling: Manufactured wood is not as easily recycled as solid wood because of the bonding and adhesive elements that hold it together.

Overall, manufactured wood is a versatile and affordable material that can be used for a variety of applications. However, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of manufactured wood before making a purchase.

Is Manufactured Wood The Same As Engineered Wood?

No, manufactured wood and engineered wood are not the same thing. Manufactured wood is a general term that refers to any type of wood product that is made from wood fibers, sawdust, or chips that have been bonded together with adhesives.

Engineered wood, on the other hand, is a specific type of manufactured wood that is made from layers of wood veneer that are glued together with strong adhesives.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between manufactured wood and engineered wood:

FeatureManufactured WoodEngineered Wood
IngredientsWood fibers, sawdust, or chipsLayers of wood veneer
Manufacturing processBonded together with adhesivesGlued together with strong adhesives
StrengthLess strongMore strong
DurabilityLess durableMore durable
CostLess expensiveMore expensive
ApplicationsFurniture, flooring, cabinets, doorsFraming, beams, joists, decking

As you can see, there are some key differences between manufactured wood and engineered wood. Manufactured wood is less strong and durable than engineered wood, but it is also less expensive. Engineered wood is more strong and durable, but it is also more expensive.

The best type of wood for your project will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you are looking for a less expensive option that is still strong enough for most applications, then manufactured wood may be a good choice.

If you need stronger and more durable wood for a more demanding application, then engineered wood may be a better choice.

What Is Composite Wood?

Composite Wood Decking

Composite wood, also known as engineered wood, is a type of wood product that is made from a combination of wood fibers, plastic, and other materials. It is a versatile material that can be used for a variety of applications, including decking, fencing, siding, and furniture.

Composite wood is made by mixing wood fibers with plastic resins and other additives. The mixture is then molded into the desired shape and cured under heat and pressure. The resulting material is strong, durable, and resistant to moisture, pests, and rot.

There are many different types of composite wood, each with its own unique properties. Some of the most common types of composite wood include:

  • Wood-plastic composites (WPCs): WPCs are made from a blend of wood fibers and plastic resins. They are strong, durable, and resistant to moisture, pests, and rot. WPCs are often used for decking, fencing, and siding.
  • Fiber-reinforced composites (FRCs): FRCs are made from a blend of wood fibers and synthetic fibers, such as glass or carbon fiber. They are very strong and durable, and they are often used for structural applications, such as beams and joists.
  • Wood composites with recycled content: These composites are made from a blend of wood fibers and recycled materials, such as plastic or paper. They are strong, durable, and environmentally friendly.

Composite wood has a number of advantages over solid wood, including:

  • Strength: Composite wood is often stronger than solid wood.
  • Durability: Composite wood is more resistant to moisture, pests, and rot than solid wood.
  • Maintenance: Composite wood requires very little maintenance.
  • Appearance: Composite wood can be made to look like solid wood.

However, composite wood also has some disadvantages, including:

  • Cost: Composite wood is often more expensive than solid wood.
  • Availability: Composite wood is not as widely available as solid wood.
  • Recycling: Composite wood is not as easily recycled as solid wood.

Overall, composite wood is a versatile and durable material that can be used for a variety of applications. However, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of composite wood before making a purchase.

Are Manufactured Wood, Engineered Wood, and Composite Wood Stronger Than Actual Wood?

Composite Wood

In general, solid wood is stronger than manufactured wood, engineered wood, and composite wood. However, there are some exceptions. For example, some types of engineered wood, such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), can be stronger than solid wood in certain applications.

Here is a table that summarizes the strength of different types of wood:

Type of WoodStrength
Solid WoodStrongest
Engineered WoodCan be stronger than solid wood in certain applications
Manufactured WoodLess strong than solid wood
Composite WoodLess strong than solid wood

The strength of wood depends on a number of factors, including the type of wood, the grain direction, the moisture content, and the manufacturing process. Solid wood is stronger than other types of wood because it is made from a single piece of wood.

The long, continuous fibers in solid wood provide more strength than the shorter, discontinuous fibers in manufactured wood, engineered wood, and composite wood.

However, manufactured wood, engineered wood, and composite wood can be stronger than solid wood in certain applications. For example, LVL is made from layers of wood veneer that are glued together with strong adhesives.

The layers of veneer are oriented in the same direction, which makes LVL very strong in the direction of the grain. LVL is often used for structural applications, such as beams and joists.

Ultimately, the best type of wood for your project will depend on your specific needs and requirements. If you need the strongest possible wood, then solid wood is the best option.

However, if you are looking for a more affordable option or wood that is resistant to moisture or pests, then manufactured wood, engineered wood, or composite wood may be a better choice.

Obviously, then, solid hardwood is going to be much stronger than man-made wood.  Keep in mind that man-made wood is not the same as man-made fake burgers or sausages, as it is made with wood, sort of like the man-made chicken made from chicken cells. 

But you get the point about solid hardwood, and as the chart above indicates, solid wood is stronger, generally, than any man-made wood.

Solid wood furniture will be stronger and more durable than furniture made from manufactured, engineered, or composite woods. 

Is Manufactured Wood Easier To Work With Than Solid Wood?

Red and White Oak Boards

Yes, manufactured wood is generally easier to work with than solid wood. This is because manufactured wood is made up of smaller pieces of wood that have been glued together, which makes it more uniform and easier to cut, shape, and drill.

Solid wood, on the other hand, is made up of a single piece of wood, which can be more difficult to work with because it is more likely to warp or crack.

Here are some of the reasons why manufactured wood is easier to work with than solid wood:

  • It is more uniform in thickness and density, which makes it easier to cut and shape.
  • It is less likely to warp or crack, which makes it less likely to ruin your project.
  • It is less expensive than solid wood, which makes it a more affordable option for some projects.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using manufactured wood. For example, it is not as strong as solid wood, and it can be more susceptible to damage from moisture. Additionally, some people believe that manufactured wood is not as aesthetically pleasing as solid wood.

Ultimately, the best type of wood to use for a project depends on the specific requirements of the project. If you need a wood that is easy to work with and affordable, then manufactured wood may be a good option for you. However, if you need a wood that is strong and durable, then solid wood may be a better choice.

Is Plywood A Manufactured Wood Or An Engineered Wood?

Stacked Plywood

Plywood is an engineered wood product. It’s made by gluing together thin layers of wood veneer, also known as plies, which are stacked in alternating directions so that each layer’s grain runs perpendicular to the one below it. 

Plywood is a man-made wood product made from thin layers, also called “plies,” of wood veneer. These veneers are glued together, with each layer, or ply, having its grain rotated 90 degrees to its adjacent layer.

Plywood is basically the original engineered wood product. It’s a type of manufactured board that includes particle board and oriented strand board (OSB).

We’ve written about many aspects of working with plywood and its advantages, including how it’s graded, how to edgeband plywood, and how to round over plywood.

Video on Manufactured Woods

We found a very interesting and informational video on Manufactured Woods and how they are being used today in woodworking and construction.  It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

Manufactured woods, along with engineered woods and composite materials, all have their place in the woodworking shop and, as we saw in the video, in the construction trades, too.  We’ve all used plywood, I would guess, and we’ve used MDF at times, too.

We found suitable uses for them and, in the process, saved a few dollars over the cost of natural woods.  They do well when used for the right purposes and on the right projects.

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