Structural Properties of Timber

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1. Introduction

During this assignment different types of wood will be discussed as well as the value of timber used in interior applications. The headings will be organised accordingly:

1.1 Chipboard versus Plywood

1.2 Indigenous Hardwood versus Softwood

1.3 Laminates and veneers

1.4 Timber joinery.

Each of the descriptions will contain a concisely written explanation, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using the particular product or fixture within an interior application. Photographs of the product as well as a particular application of this product will be included. It will be stipulated why the particular applications is either successful or less successful. Various timber joining methods will be researched as well as particular applications thereof.

1.1 Chipboard versus Plywood


Chipboard can be defined as a low grade board that consists of compressed wood chips, bound together with a synthetic resin. This low grade cardboard can also be used as a stiffener for photographs and as a backing for paper pads. (,2014). Chipboard is also available in a number of densities: normal-, medium- and high density. Normal density is fairly soft and high density is solid and hard. (Design-Technology, n.d.)

A view advantages of chipboard include, cost efficiency as it is used for an alternative to solid wood for the construction of furniture, normally the kind of furniture that is meant for self assembly by the consumer. Chipboard is also an advantage to the environment as it is made out of 70 percent recycled materials. This means that instead of using solid wood, fewer trees will have to be chopped down when people choose to use chipboard instead. Chipboard is also very strong and performs well under pressure. If chipboard is used instead of solid wood, it creates no weak spots in furniture. As chipboard can be covered with a wide variety of finishes, it allows the consumer to choose a finish to his or her liking. The chipboard can be made to simulate any type of wood as well as the best quality of wood without defects or knots. (Grand Wood China, 2013)

Some disadvantages of chipboard may include, water damage; as chipboard can warp, snap and damage when exposed to moisture. Because of this chipboard should not be installed in moist environments such as bathrooms. (Grand Wood China, 2013).

Chipboard is mainly used for counter tops in kitchens, where it will be laminated with melamine, and fire doors. Work surfaces and flat- pack furniture is made out of chipboard with a veneered surface. High density chipboard is heavy, rigid and hardwearing, these types of chipboard is mainly used as the shell for kitchen units, worktops and flooring. (Design-Technology, n.d.).

Successful or Less Successful


Plywood can be defined as a structural board that consists out of an odd number of thin layers (minimum of three layers) of wood glued together under pressure, always with the grain of one layer at right angles to the grain of the adjoining layer. (The Free Dictionary, 2014).

Advantages of plywood are the layering of the wood that creates strength, this also prevents the planks from twisting, cracking and warping under pressure. Plywood is also less expensive than solid woods. (Do It Yourself, 2011). Marine Plywood is specially made for the use under water, this material should be protected with vanish or paint and the plywood is fixed with waterproof adhesive. (Design-Technology, n.d.) The plywood will become even stronger depending on the amount of layers added. The finish of plywood can vary, as some contain knots and other consist of attractive grains. Plywood can be used in interiors as well as exteriors, depending on the water resistance adhesives that is used. Plywood can be nailed or screwed and it can be curved because of the flexibility of the material. The most common thicknesses of plywood are 4,6,9 and 12 mm. (Design-Technology, n.d.).

Plywood has a few disadvantages like water damage due to the layering which makes the material porous. Plywood will get heavy when wet and should therefore be covered when left outdoors. (Do It Yourself, 2011).

Plywood is usually used for walls, roofing, flooring and decks. Plywood can be used for interiors as well as exteriors, plywood can even be used for the construction of boats. Because plywood is a durable and strong material, it is excellent for the use in construction. (Do It Yourself, 2011). Plywood can also be used for cladding, sheds, furniture and shuttering boxes, this is usually used in construction to contain concrete while it sets. (Design-Technology, n.d.)

According to (Design-Technology, n.d.), "Exterior grade plywood (WBP - Weather and Boil Proof). This type of plywood can be used outside. Water-resistant adhesives are used and can resist a certain amount of moisture. Weather boiled proof plywood requires paint or varnish to protect the outer veneer from the elements. Internal plywood does not contain water-resistant adhesive. The code used to represent this plywood is (Int.interior use only). Other codes used on the surface of plywood are: BR: -Boil Resistant, MR: -Moisture Resistant."

Successful or Less Successful

In conclusion to the research provided concerning chipboard and plywood, it is difficult to compare the two materials as they are very much the same. Chipboard is more aesthetically pleasing and is not as harmful to the environment but can damage easily and plywood is more cost effective and is stronger than chipboard and it is used for a larger variety of products.

1.2 Indigenous Hardwood versus Softwood

Indigenous Hardwood

Definition of Indigenous Hardwood:

Advantages of hardwood include, toughness, hardness, strong, the closer the grain is the more it can withstand shock and wear, durable, easy to use, elastic, does not split easily, can be used under water, due to the oil content, it is naturally durable to moisture and it will not corrode iron or steel fittings. (Design-Technology, n.d.).

The disadvantages of hardwood include, warping, heavy and expencive, splitting can occur, difficult to glue because of the oil content, will blunt tools very quickly, does not polish as well and it is difficult to finish. (Design-Technology, n.d.).

Hardwood is mainly used for furniture, floors, veneers, wooden toys and ornaments, boat building, gate posts, decks, shop fittings, sills, gates, doors, and stairs. (Design-Technology, n.d.).

Successful or Less Successful


Softwood can be defined as wood that comes from an coniferous tree. Softwood are in general softer than hardwoods but there are a few exceptions. (The Free Dictionary. 2014)

There are advantages of softwood, namely, wood like pine, redwood and scots pine are readily available and fairly cheap, durable, easy to work with, attractive grain and available in long and wide boards. Wood like Western Red Cedar are resistant to insect attack due to natural preservative oils as well as weather and dry rot. It is also knot free, water resistant and durable. (Design-Technology, n.d.)

Softwood has disadvantages as well and they include, the fact that they are not as strong, does tend to warp, splits easily and expensive. (Design-Technology, n.d.)

Softwood can be used for staircases, furniture, cladding for exterior of buildings and general outside work. (Design-Technology, n.d.)

Successful or Less Successful


1.3 Laminates and veneers


Laminates can be defined as two or more thin sheets of material, bonded together to cover or overlay another material. (The Free Dictionary, 2014)



Uses in an Interior Space

Successful or Less Successful


Veneers can be defined as decorative, thin surface layer, glued to a base of low grade material to give the impression that it is made of high quality material. (The Free Dictionary, 2014)

Veneers have advantages and disadvantages. An advantage of veneers are

Advantages Veneer wood furniture begins with thin layers of wood glued together with the grain at right angles over a thick core. This crisscross design reduces the chances of splitting or cracking. Plus, the glue is the equally strong, waterproof adhesive used in aircraft and marine construction, so the end result is actually stronger than the natural wood. Many people mistakenly assume that veneered furniture is inferior to or cheaper than solid wood; however, veneers quite often are used in high end furniture pieces and it can be more costly than solid wood.AdvantagesofVeneer Wood 2014


Uses in an Interior Space

Successful or Less Successful


1.4 Timber Joinery

Joinery is fine woodwork executed on wood working machinery in the protection of a workshop, in contrast to carpentry, which is rough woodwork executed on the building site.

The modern joiner makes purpose made cupboards, doors, windows, architraves and counters in solid wood, plywood, fibreboard and chipboard, on modern woodwork machinery.249

Chipboard is an economical board made of coarse timber chips bonded together under pressure. The standard for chipboard is SANS 50312. Board made with phenolic type adhesive is suitable for external use, that made with melamine-urea formaldehyde adhesive is suitable for floor material or laboratory worktops that are infrequently wetted. 251

The standard for plywood is SANS 929. Plywood can be of commercial, marine or structural grade. The number of piles is always odd (minimum of three) insuring that the grain of the two outer layers runs parallel to ensure a balanced board. Plywood can be bent and shaped by wetting the board and shaping it under heat and pressure, e.g. chair seats.251

Hardwood- The standards for hardwood for furniture is SANS 1099. This includes a description of 29 local and imported species. Hardwood is supplied in three grade: clear grade (marked red); semi-clear (marked blue); knotty grade (marked green). 249

Softwood- The standard for sawn industrial softwood is SANS 1783. Softwood is grown locally and is supplied in six grades: clear grade for high quality furniture; semi-clear grade for furniture and joinery; cutting grade; appearance grade for furniture, floors and shelves; utility grade, where appearance is not important; packing grade for pallets and crates.250

Decorative laminates are plastic sheets with a decorative face. Decorative Laminates sheets sizes are 3.5 x 1.2 m. There are several high and low pressure decorative laminate types, each with its own application: general purpose type; for worktops, doors, drawers, light duty type; for door- and drawer fronts, carcasses, shelves, cabinet lining type; for internal lining of cupboards, backer type; for reverse sides of boards to prevent uneven absorption of moisture of the substrate, specific purpose type; for doors, partitions, walls and floors, high-wear type; for industrial worktops, fire retardant type. All decorative laminates are made from resin and paper. Melamine resin and paper are used for surfaces, and phenol resin and craft paper for core construction. Melamine is a thermosetting resin type that is resistant to high temperatures, chemicals and wear. Resins can be modified for specific purposes like post forming and fire retarding. 252

Particle board, and fibreboard with at least minimum density, may be covered with veneers or decorative laminates. Veneer is a thin peel of mostly hardwoods. 252

2. Conclusion

3. Bibliography 2014. Chipboard. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

Grand Wood China. 2013. The Advantages of Chipboard. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

Design-Technology. n.d. Chipboard. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

The Free Dictionary. 2014. Plywood. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

Do It Yourself. 2011. Plywood Advantages and Disadvantages. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

Design-Technology. n.d. Plywood. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014].

The Free Dictionary. 2014. Laminates. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014]

The Free Dictionary. 2014. Veneers. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014]

The Free Dictionary. 2014. Softwood. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014]

Design-Technology. n.d. Hardwoods and Softwoods Table. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2014]