If you're looking for a timber-like study desk, as well as seeing the diverse styles, you've probably also noticed the different materials they're constructed from. MDF, particle board, plywood and laminated wood, what do all these terms mean? Knowledge is power, so here is some information to dispel any mystery.
Particleboard And MDF
Basically, particle board and MDF (medium density fibreboard) derive from timber byproducts. At the sawmill, the process of cutting timber from a tree log produces leftovers such as wood chips, shavings and sawdust. These byproducts are then used to manufacture engineered wood products like particleboard and MDF. While both of these include some form of timber, they are combined with a bonding resin and other materials to form the final panels used to construct furniture, such as desks for instance.
The difference between particleboard and MDF lies in the manufacturing process. While wood particles are used to manufacture particleboard, fibres are used to create MDF. During the production of MDF, the wood particles are further broken down into fibres before being combined with other materials. Sometimes elements are added to provide resistance against water and fire. While MDF is denser than particleboard, both are strong and ideal for furniture.
Plywood And Laminated Wood
Other materials that you might come across when researching desks are plywood and laminated wood. Both of these are constructed by glueing together multiple fine sheets of timber veneer, which is simply a thin slice of wood shaved from a tree log. During plywood manufacture, these sheets are placed with the wood grain of each at right angles, so the grains form a crisscrossing pattern. Whereas with laminated wood, the grains on each glued sheet run parallel. Bonding multiple layers of veneer together like this creates robust and resilient boards. The vulnerable part of solid timber is along the grain where it tends to split and crack; however, bonding multiple layers with resin neutralises this weakness.
Plywood and laminated wood can either be covered on the outside with a decorative layer of a particularly attractive slice of hardwood veneer or with another material entirely, such as laminate for example.
So now the mystery of all these terms has been dispelled, and you need never wonder what they all refer to again. Particleboard and MDF are constructed from wood particles and fibres respectively, combined with a bonding resin and possibly other materials to make them water and fire-resistant. Plywood and laminated board are created by simply bonding thin timber veneer slices together. Producing these wood products to create furniture makes full use of all the wood byproducts at the sawmill.