If you are planning to revamp your house or get some furniture to be made, then there are some terms that you should be familiar with. It is better that you get acquainted with some technical terms as well so that the carpenter would not be able to fool you.
You must have seen wood in various forms at the carpenter’s workshop or at your own house when you were renovating your house.
The wood that looked as if some layers were bound together and used to make furniture, especially wardrobe and kitchen cabinets is called ply or plywood. It is your best companion in making interior furniture.
What is ply?
Let us find out what goes into making a ply. Ply or plywood is a term used for a product that is made by gluing together thin sheets of wood. Thin sheets of wood are stuck together to obtain plywood of uniform thickness.
In simple terms thin layers of wood of a particular size are bound together to obtain a sheet of wood of good thickness. Each layer is called as veneer.
The veneers are usually made from different woods such as teak, spruce, birch etc. Usually, veneers are obtained from good quality wood.
The number of veneers selected is usually in odd numbers, like 3, 5, 7 etc. Such kind of plies balance the sheet and ensures that there is no warping. Plywood is used extensively in the wood industry.
Today, most of the home décor and home furniture is made by using plywood. An advantage of plies is that they are cheap, can be recycled, and are flexible. Thus they can be used to make many products. Also since plies can be locally manufactured, it is easy to get.
Carpenters and interior designers prefer plywood over plain wood because unlike plain wood, plywood is durable and doesn’t shrink, crack, warp, twist in the long run. Of course, it also lasts for a long time.
The manufacturing process of ply:
If you thought making a ply is easier and that it just needs some layers of wood and a good quality adhesive to stick them together, then you are right in some ways but wrong in many ways. Though the process of making a ply sounds easier, it is not that simple. At least 14 to 15 steps of processes go into making a sturdy ply.
The transformation from an uneven, hard tree wood to smooth looking, even and sturdy piece of ply is a long one. The process is really interesting.
Here are the steps that transform the ordinary wood to a good looking ply:
Ward blocking: The logs of wood are removed and cut according to the size required. This process is known as ward blocking.
Cooking: This process is called so because the wood cut is exposed to a pre-set temperature of about 60-80 degrees.
It might take 12 hours or so for the cooking process to be completed. This is done to remove starch and also to eliminate microscopic organisms present in wood.
Because if the organisms are not killed, then, they might attack the resultant ply and thus damage it.
Peeling: It is just what the name suggests. The log after being cooked, is peeled as per the thickness required. It is done with the help of a peeling machine.
Reeling: Now the wood can be called veneer. It is subsequently reeled.
Clipping: The veneer is clipped as per the dimensions required.
Drying: The veneer is now dried at a certain temperature. The aim of this step is remove all moisture content and also to kill any residue microorganisms. This step is very important because any veneer containing moisture is unsuitable to make a ply.
Resin: This step can also be called as the gluing process. This is also an important and most essential part of the manufacturing process, because correct gluing is the secret to a strong ply. Most companies prefer to produce resin in-house to ensure maximum quality.
The veneers are glued and perfected so as to ensure strength and dimensional stability.
Testing: The plywood just made is tested in laboratories for any defects.
Pressing: There are usually two press methods, one is the pre press method and second, the hot press. The pre press process helps to expand and stabilize each layer to ensure that the product is warp free. The hot press process is to make certain that the ply is of uniform density at all levels and points.
After undergoing both these steps, the ply is allowed to cool for 24 hours.
Cutting and trimming: It is essential that the ply has dimensional accuracy. That is why this process is done very carefully.
Sanding: This step provides a even surface to the ply
Inspection and despatch: The last step is to check for the quality of plywood and then the plies are despatched to various locations as per the orders received. Different types of ply available in India In India, there are many types of plywood available depending on the thickness, the kind of wood the ply is made from and also quality.
You can check out the entire production process of ply in this video
How the ply will be utilised is also one factor of classifying the ply. Some of the different types of plywood available in India are:
Indoor and outdoor ply: Different kinds of plies are used for interiors and exteriors. Usually waterproof or water resistant ply is utilised for exterior work. By the term interiors, it means that such ply is used for making furniture, doors etc.
Such type of plywood is known as commercial MR plywood, wherein MR is the abbreviation for Moisture resistant. The exterior plywood goes by the term BWP or BWR plywood. BWP stands for Boiling Water Proof whereas BWR stands for Boiling Water Resistant.
Commercial plywood: In India, the term commercial ply is referred to the ‘MR’ grade ply. This ply is the interior grade ply and used for making indoor furniture units. When it is said that moisture resistant, it does not mean it is water resistant.
There is a huge difference between water and moisture, as you know. Water proof ply are the BWR graded ones which are the boiling water resistant ones. So commercial ply can withstand moisture to a certain extent but they are not waterproof.
Indian standards specification numbers for different kinds of plywood
IS: 303 – MR Plywood, BWR Plywood, Flexi Ply
IS: 710 – Marine Plywood
IS: 10701 – Structural plywood
IS: 5509-1980 – Fire Retardant Plywood
IS: 4990 – Shuttering Plywood
Calibrated ply: This ply is used for maximum precision. The inner ply sometimes measures only to 0.005 inch, thus you can imagine how perfected the ply has been made.
Calibrated ply are mostly used for such furniture where uniformity in thickness have to be maintained.
Marine ply: This is a term used for the exterior plywood and is in high demand in the production of marine applications. Marine ply is also used to make boats and preferred in industries due to its water resistant factor.
Marine ply, though not much used for interiors, some do make use of it to make kitchen furniture since such types of furniture are often exposed to water.
Classification on the basis of the raw material (wood) used Hardwood plywood is a term used for plies made from teak or birth. This is one of the best quality plywood.
Softwood ply is a term used for wood made from soft trees such as Pine, Fir, Spruce or Cedar. Plies made from Mango tree wood is also a softwood ply.
Metric dimensions of Softwood ply:
Softwood ply comes either with 1.2 m x 2.4 m or in 4 feet x 8 feet metric dimensions.
Other plywood terms Flexible plywood as the term implies are flexible plies that can be bended or rolled. Such types plies are extremely in demand to make designer furniture. Fire resistant ply is used in malls, theatres, restaurant kitchens to prevent any fire accidents.
Since wood is extremely combustible, fire resistant plies can avoid the plies catching fire or avoid spreading of fire. Thickness of plies denote their usage In India, plies of varied thickness ranging from 3 mm to 25 mm are available.
Thickness of Indian plywood available in 3 to 9 mm, 12 mm, 15 mm, 16 mm, 19 mm, 22 mm and 25 mm. Plywood of 3, 4 and 6 mm thickness This ply is usually used for furniture and interior appliances .
Thickness ranging from 12 mm to 19 mm -> Such plies are usually water proof and made from hardwood. Hence such plies are usually used in kitchen furniture, especially to make modular kitchens and other furniture.
Its high quality also makes it suitable for making ceilings, bathrooms, doors and windows. Most of such plies are also provide resistance to termites, the eternal enemy of wood.
Nowadays, there is hardly any kitchen that is plain. Most householders prefer modular kitchen as it is easy convenient, looks elegant and gives a beautiful look to the kitchen. In India, ply is most preferred to make modular kitchen.
Why 16mm ply is used for Modular?
The 16 mm thickness ply is what is preferred for this thickness guarantees a strong modular kitchen and also lasts for a long time because of its strength.
Ply with thickness of 25 mm -> Such plywood is also known as shuttering plywood. This kind of ply is the most superior of all plies and is used in shuttering activities during construction and also for other construction purposes.
Decorating the plywood Plywood is usually decorated with laminates, paints and then polished. Sunmica is the most common laminate used to decorate ply. It is also popular because it is available in different colours, textures and even patterns.
Compared to laminates, paints are less expensive and protect the wood for a long time. Though polishing is generally done on hard wood, plies are also polished to make it look even and good. Ply is best for wardrobes. As interior designs are improving with technology, there also has been some great innovations in wardrobes.
Don’t you wish to have a wardrobe that is unique and different from your neighbour’s wardrobe? The best way to ensure this is to make use of ply to make wardrobes.
Ply’s flexibility and strength make it the most suitable material to make wardrobes. Of course, they can also be decorated as per your choice, thus giving it a beautiful look from outside.
Check out this video to Know the materials:
Advantages of ply
Convenient to use: Ply can easily used. It is easy to nail or screw the ply and unlike wood, these processes do not cause any damage to the ply. A variety of sizes available: Plies are available in a variety of sizes and offers adequate length and width, thus plies are convenient to make any kind of furniture.
Provides good strength: Plies are much stronger than any other kind of wood. They are durable also.
Highly economical: Not much wood is wasted during the making of the ply. Thin sheets of variable quality too can make a ply of superior quality.
Not much distress: Plies are made in such a way that it does not suffer warping or shrinking, thus suitable for using for a long duration of time.
Flexible and reasonable: Ply is flexible and hence in great demand to make creative designs in interior design work and other decorative materials. It is also easy to use and thus interior designers prefer plywood over any other material to make high end kitchens and other interior work.
Plus, plies are stronger and durable, thus making it much popular with carpenters and industries.
Now that you know the intricacies of that ply lying at your house, you will be able to get the best furniture with ply and interior work done for your home.
After your home’s renovation gets done, do say a soft ‘thank you’ to the ply that is making your home look so beautiful.