Everything you need to know about plywood

In Canadian building projects, plywood is one of the most well-known multi-purpose engineered wood-based panel products. Resin and wood fiber sheets are joined by plywood to create a composite material supplied in panels. The face veneers in a standard plywood panel are of more excellent quality than the core veneers. The purpose of the core layers is to improve resistance to bending forces by increasing the spacing between the outer layers where the bending stresses are most significant.


Well, in this article, the answers to the following questions will be discussed:

  • What is plywood?
  • What are the applications of plywood?
  • What are the various types of plywood?
  • what are the structural characteristics of plywood?
  • How is plywood made?

Now let’s dive in!

Read more: Understanding woodworking


What is plywood?

A material known as plywood is created by adhering thin “plies” or layers of wood veneer together while rotating the wood grain of the neighboring layers by up to 90 degrees. It belongs to the family of produced boards, which also includes particle board, oriented strand board, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) (chipboard).

Furthermore, in order to create plywood, which is an engineered wood sheet material, thin layers or frail strands of wood veneers were glued together at a 90-degree angle to the wood grains. It is a special kind of produced board that can be compared to a blend of chipboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF) (Particle Board). It is a complicated substance that fastens wood sheets with fiber and resin.

Due to its low moisture content and ease of usage for a variety of applications, plywood has gained popularity during the past 10 years. Plywood has grown to be used extensively, mostly outside. The well-known British powerboat manufacturer builds it’s Motor Torpedo Boats and Motor Gun Boats out of plywood.

Plywood 1

What are the applications of plywood?

Many uses for high-quality, high-strength sheet material call for the usage of plywood. In this sense, quality refers to resistance to warping, twisting, shrinkage, cracking, and breaking. Exterior bonded plywood is appropriate for use outside, however since moisture affects wood’s strength, performance is best when the moisture level is kept in a relatively low range. The dimensions and strength characteristics of plywood are unaffected by sub-zero temperatures, allowing for certain unique applications.

Additionally, plywood is employed in stressed-skin applications as an engineering material. Since World War II, it has been employed in marine and aviation applications. The British de Havilland Mosquito bomber, which has a birch plywood body sandwiching a balsa core and heavily uses plywood for the wings, is the most known example. In addition, the hard-chine Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) and Motor Gun Boats (MGB) made by the British Power Boat Company and Vosper, the American PT boats, and the crucial Higgins landing craft for the D-Day landings all had plywood hulls. Currently, applications involving strained skin employ plywood successfully.

Because it can bend easily along the grain, plywood is frequently used to make curved surfaces. Plywood is frequently used as the top smooth surface over bent curves in skateboard ramps to produce transitions that can imitate the shapes of ocean waves. well, the following are the common applications of plywood:

Softwood plywood

  • Floors, walls, and roofs in home constructions
  • Wind bracing panels
  • Vehicle internal bodywork
  • Packages and boxes
  • Fencing


Read more: Understanding wood structural panels

Hardwood plywood

  • Panels in concrete formwork systems
  • Floors, walls, and roofs in transport vehicles
  • Container floors
  • Floors subjected to heavy wear in various buildings and factories
  • Scaffolding materials

Birch plywood is a good choice for many specialized end uses because of its smooth surface, accurate thickness, and durability.

  • High-end loudspeakers
  • Die-cutting boards
  • Supporting structure for parquet
  • Playground equipment
  • Furniture
  • Signs and fences for demanding outdoor advertising
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports equipment

What are the various types of plywood?

The followings are the various types of plywood used in various applications:

  • Softwood Plywood
  • Hardwood Plywood
  • Tropical Plywood
  • Aircraft Plywood
  • Decorative Plywood
  • Flexible Plywood
  • Marine Plywood


Read more: Types of wood and their uses

Softwood Plywood

Softwood Because it is made of spruce, pine, and fir, plywood is sometimes known as spruce-pine-fir, or SPF. Although cedar (Cedrus sp.) and douglas fir can both be used to make it (Pseudotsugan menziesii). When constructed from spruce (Picea sp. ), the noticeable grains are covered by a technique to make the plywood more effective and as hard as concrete when used for building and shuttering strands.

Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood Angiosperms are used to make plywood. This kind of plywood can be recognized by its stiffness, surface hardness, inflexibility, and resistant qualities. Heavy weight can be supported using this.

Tropical Plywood

To create this sort of plywood, various tropical timber species are blended. Although it was formerly only gathered from the Asian region, it is now being collected from Africa and America. Popular tropical plywood has some unique features like strength, density, evenness, inflexibility, resistance quality, thickness.

Due to its tropical climate, South Asia produces the most plywood. This style is utilized in nations including Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Dubai, and even in the United States and England. The negative consequence of this type is that due to the extreme manufacturing of this type, deforestation is becoming a major issue for some nations, like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, all of which export plywood internationally. Because of its greater thickness, Malaysian plywood is particularly well-known as Malaysian board in Bangladesh and extremely popular among Bangladeshis.

Aircraft Plywood

Aircraft plywood is made from mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla), spruce (Picea sp. ), and birch (Betula sp. African mahogany produces structural plywood for aircraft. European birch is the best variety of birch tree. This kind is renowned for its strength. This type is also composed of mahogany, spruce, and birch, but it has the advantage of being heat resistant.

Decorative Plywood

Overlaid plywood is another name for decorative plywood. typical materials include ash (Fraxinus species), oak (Quercus species), red oak (Quercus rubra), birch, maple (Acer species), and mahogany. Philippine mahogany is also known as rosewood and seraya ( Dalbergia sisso).

Flexible Plywood

Flexible Plywood is used to create flexible furniture and constructions, as the name implies. The majority of the furniture from the eighteenth century had curved construction. These are constructed of Baltic birch ( Betula sp).

Marine Plywood

Marine plywood is a form of plywood that can be utilized in environments that are moist, humid, or wet. It can be utilized in wetness for extended periods of time. The marine plywood layers have too tiny of a core gap, which prevents the board from holding water inside the gaps. It is also resistant to fungi.

Read more: Different types of wood finishes and finishing products

What are the structural characteristics of plywood?

The face veneers in a standard plywood panel are of greater quality than the core veneers. The core layers’ main purpose is to enhance the spacing between the outer layers, which experience the largest bending loads, and so raise the panel’s resistance to bending. As a result, thicker panels can support the same loads over longer distances. The outermost layers of bending experience the highest stress, one in tension and the other in compression.

From its peak at the face layers to almost zero at the middle layer, bending stress decreases. Shear stress, on the other hand, is greater at the panel’s center and the outer fibers. Birch plywood (density about 680 kg/m3), mixed plywood (density approximately 620 kg/m3), and conifer plywoods (density 460–520 kg/m3) are the three primary categories into which basic plywood can be broken down in Europe.

How is plywood made?

A plywood panel is made up of several layers, or plys, of softwood veneer that have been glued together with the grain directions of the veneer running parallel to one another. These cross-laminated wood veneer sheets are joined by a waterproof phenol-formaldehyde resin glue, which is then heated and compressed to cure. Plywood is typically created in BC from softwood species like Douglas-fir, spruce, pine, and fir; this material is referred to as Canadian softwood plywood, or CSP. The most typical measurement is 4 feet by 8 feet. The most typical thickness of plywood is 1/2 inch.

Plywood comes in a wide range of options, from smooth, natural surfaces ideal for finish work to more affordable unsanded grades used for sheathing. This contains nearly twenty various grades and a dozen common thicknesses. Graded Douglas-fir Plywood (DFP) and CSP are manufactured in Canada in accordance with CSA O121 and CSA O151 standards, respectively.

Read more: Understanding wood finishing

Watch the video below to learn more on how plywood is made:


Almost all modern furnitures are made with plywood due to its benefits. Well, in this post, we’ve explained the following questions:

  • What is plywood?
  • What are the applications of plywood?
  • What are the various types of plywood?
  • what are the structural characteristics of plywood?
  • How is plywood made?

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!