New Test of Raw Material Quality Improves the Strength of Wood Laminates
Thin sheets of wood, or veneers, are bonded together to make stronger, cheaper, more consistent wood products such as laminated veneer lumber and plywood. This research asked the question: “How does the process of cutting the log into veneers impact the gluing properties and ultimate strength of the product?” Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc., and their partners at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, found some surprising answers. First, the team showed that the standard method of measuring surface quality of veneers didn’t provide much useful information. Then, they developed a new method that shows dramatic differences in how easily bits of surface material pull away from the rest of the veneer. After all, gluing down a sheet doesn’t work well if the surface material easily breaks free from the rest of the sheet. With this new method, they were able to show what conditions produce better veneer surfaces, which translates to better bonds and stronger products.