Man-Made Timbers


The most widely used of man-made boards, it is made from resin-bonded chips. Available unsurfaced, veneered and pre-finished, it does not lend itself to being worked in the same way as natural timbers but can be cut and planed at the ends. Another name for chipboard is particle board.

It is made in various grades for use as flooring and other decking surfaces. It has the advantage over natural timber of being far less subject to expansion and contraction from the effects of changes in humidity.

The four main grades of chipboard are standard, which is the cheapest and can be used in places where it will not be readily seen; painting grade, suitable for decorating; flooring grade, the strongest; and exterior grade, treated for resistance to water.

Pre-finished boards are either timber laminated or laminated in plastic. Edging strips are made to match the surface finishes.


Widely used for woodworking jobs such as panelling and making drawer bottoms. Plywoods are veneers-thin sheets of timber glued together under pressure, with the grain at right angles to the adjacent sheets.

Ply always has an odd number of sheets, since an even number would be liable to warp. It ranges from two-ply, 0-8mm thick, up to 25mm for 11-ply and is made in both hardwood and softwood, such as birch and beech and West African and Gaboon mahogany.

Ordinary ply deteriorates in damp conditions, though mahogany ply will stand up to the weather if joined with a waterproof glue. A weather-proof grade is called WBP, an abbreviation for water and boil-proof.

Ply is also made with a decorative hardwood veneer on one face and is also available, plastic-laminated.

Fibre building boards

These are made in several standard sizes and thicknesses and can be decorated or obtained pre-decorated. There are two main types – insulating board and hardboard.

Hardboard is made from softwood which has been pulped and drawn back into sheet form under heat and pressure. Standard hardboard has one smooth surface and one rippled surface. Double-faced hardboard is made for use in situations where both sides will show. Other hardboards include oil-tempered, which has to stand up to external conditions, and enamelled and plastic-surfaced boards, for panelling and decorative uses.

Medium hardboard is made for heavier uses, such as partitioning. Hardboards range from 3mm to 6mm in thickness; medium boards are from 6mm to 13mm thick.

There is a wide variety of fibre building boards, ranging from perforated board, known as pegboard, which has good acoustical qualities and can be used to fix light objects through the perforations, to laminated fibre wallboard, made up of thin layers of board bonded together. Insulating boards are lightly compressed in manufacture and have a textured surface. These are used to provide thermal insulation and for the reduction of sound.


This is made up of thin timber outer veneers with a core of solid wood and is sometimes called coreboard. Thicknesses are between 19mm and 25mm and the surface is smooth. It is stronger than chipboard and is used for heavy-duty work, such as shelving. Blockboard is very stable and unlikely to warp.

The edges of the board are not attractive, and these are filled and painted or covered with an edging strip, where the edges are likely to be seen.

Boards can be veneered, but it is usually best to have this done professionally, using specialised equipment. An alternative is laminboard – used for high-grade cabinet making – which has no edge gaps or flaws.

Cutting and finishing man-made boards

These can be cut with a panel or tenon saw. When cutting hardboard, avoid excess pressure, or you may tear the board, and always cut from the face side. Edges can be finished with a smoothing plane.

Chipboard has a tendency to ‘break out’ on the underside. To prevent this, mark the line of the cut right round the timber and score this with a marking knife; this will avoid splintering. Adhesive tape is an alternative. This can be applied along the line of the cut to avoid splintering or breaking out.

When cutting boards, always cut through the surface which will be seen, as this will present a clearer line.

DIY Tools: The Right Way to Use the Right Tools

The choice of hand tools today is very wide and it seems a daunting and bewildering task to choose those which are strictly essential. Why are there several types of plane and various patterns of screwdriver; what about all those other work aids and gadgets? Obviously, all have their specific or specialist applications. Proficiency and experience will provide the occasions for use of more specialised or sophisticated tools.

For home-maintenance and improvement jobs, a few basic tools should suffice. If, however, you make things or carry out more ambitious jobs around the home, you will steadily require more tools, including specialist tools or gadgets, some of which you can make.

The rule when choosing tools is to buy the best you can afford. A few good tools are better than a host of inferior ones, for these will probably not only give you poorer and discouraging results but break or wear out very quickly. Once you have bought a basic set of tools, you can always add more later.

Some people buy a tool a week or a month. Budget-plan buying such as this is a good idea and you will be surprised at how quickly your tool kit grows. A good rule is to avoid lending tools. There are more tool borrowers than buyers, and since tool borrowers may have little idea of use and maintenance, your tools can come back possibly the worse for wear.

Coupled with this is the inconvenience of not having to hand the tool you want. Tool borrowers may also be reluctant in returning tools; or in turn lend them to someone else!

The twelve basic types of tool suggested take into account the need for a number of types of chisel, screwdriver or drill bits. There is no need to invest in a full range of chisels, for example, at once. Choose only those you need for immediate use.


A saw is the most-used tool in woodwork. A panel saw and a tenon, or back saw, are both useful acquisitions. You may buy these both together or one at a time. You will, however, need to invest in both at an early stage.

The tenon saw is essential for fine work. It has a stiffened backing to ensure a straight cut. A good choice is one about 305mm long with 14 points (teeth) to every 25mm.

The panel saw is designed for finished work but can be used for ripping (down the grain) or cross cutting (across the grain). Choose one about 550mm long with ten points to 25mm. Teflon-coated saws cut well through resinous or damp timber.


A small hand drill, an assortment of twist drills and a masonry drill should cover most contingencies. The Stanley ‘Yankee’ Handyman push drill is a useful and easy-to-use drill, which comes with a variety of drill points. Later you will need to buy a hand or bit brace and a range of centre bits and augers.


The vice is an essential part of woodworking and is the basic holding tool. While there are many cases in which you / will later need clamps to hold timber, a portable vice is a good initial investment as it can be clamped on to many surfaces and can double as a clamp while glued and assembled work is setting..With a bench, a larger permanent vice is best.


A medium-sized smoothing plane about 250mm long with a 51 mm cutting edge, will enable you to tackle a wide range of jobs, from smoothing timber on the bench, to easing doors and windows. Planing files can be similarly used, though they are not really intended for fine woodwork treatment.


The two basic tools you need are the hammer and the screwdriver. Initially, you need only one hammer; the best one to choose is the claw hammer. The weight of hammer determines the work you can satisfactorily tackle. For general purposes, a 453-gramme claw hammer is suitable. You may shortly need to invest in the smaller Warrington-pattern hammer for a wider range of woodworking uses. You will also need a nail punch.

A good general screwdriver is about 254mm long. There are two basic types of screw head-the slotted and the cross-headed or ‘sunburst’ screw. You will need two or three general-purpose screwdrivers -a medium one and a cabinet screwdriver for screws with slotted heads.

The ‘sunburst’ head, usually under the trade name of ‘Pozidriv’, consists of a series of radial slots in the screw head. A range of four screwdrivers covers all possible types of Pozidriv head. This type of head prevents the screwdriver slipping in the slot and ‘camming out’.

Measuring and marking

A marking gauge is essential for any marking out of timber. This marks or scribes a line parallel with the edge of a board, by means of a small metal spike set on a wooden shaft with an adjustable crosspiece which slides up and down it. Later you will need other types of gauge, including a mortise gauge.

There are various types of measure. The retractable steel measure, in its own compact case, is a handy tool and enables you to measure longer lengths of timber than a wood or metal rule. These are very accurate, since the gradations of measurement are very fine.

However, a metal rule 610mm long is a more useful immediate acquisition for the serious woodworker and can be used to provide a straight edge. An alternative is the folding boxwood rule.

A try-square with a fixed blade is also necessary for ensuring accurate right angles – an essential in work of even limited precision. A size of 203mm or 228mm is suitable. It may be a good idea to invest in a combination try-square which enables you to mark other angles as well as right angles.

A slim marking knife is important. This marks with greater precision than a pencil. You could also use a trimming knife, which comes with a variety of blades for cutting various materials and also for cutting angles.


Chisels and plane irons need regular sharpening if they are to do the job for which they were made. If these become badly worn, they will need regrinding on a carborundum wheel and then sharpening and honing. To keep such tools in first-class order you will need a combination oilstone. These tools should be regularly inspected for sharpness, for poor or damaged work may otherwise result.

Wood shaping

The chisel is the basic wood-shaping tool and is made in various types to serve a variety of applications. Initially, a set of bevel-edged chisels-a 25mm, a 13mm and a 6mm chisel-should meet most or all requirements.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Man-Made Timbers


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