How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

How Plywood is Made With Georgia-Pacific

Disclosure- This article was written in partnership with Georgia-Pacific, I have been compensated for my time, however, all opinions are my own. To learn more about GP, go to http://www.gp.com. 

If you’ve ever built anything with plywood, you’ve certainly wondered how it’s made. Like most products we purchase, oftentimes there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. Recently I had an opportunity to go to the Corrigan facility in East Texas, where Georgia-Pacific manufactures some of their plywood. Keep reading to see more about this fascinating process in How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific.

 

What is Plywood?

How Plywood is Made With Georgia-Pacific

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

Plywood is essentially a wood product that is made using multiple sheets of veneer that is made from solid wood, that is cut, compressed, and glued in layers. This process results in a strong material that resists warping and cracking. It also is lighter in both weight and cost when compared to solid wood. Plywood is used in a wide variety of projects, from cabinets to furniture and everything in between.

The Corrigan facility specializes in producing ¼ inch and 3/8 inch plywood. Every day about 25 thousand pieces of plywood are produced in this facility alone.

 

The Process

How Plywood is Made With Georgia-Pacific

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

As you probably figured, plywood starts initially as trees- specifically at this plant with pine. These trees are brought in on trucks where they are sorted. The trees are trimmed and soaked in water with a caustic fluid that improves the milling process.

 

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How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

The wet tree trunks are sent through its first large machine, the Lathe. If you are familiar with lathes used in woodworking, well, it is essentially the same thing on a much larger scale. During this step, the logs are debarked, and thin sheets of wood are removed from the log at a specified thickness. These resulting pieces are known as veneers.

 

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

Veneers are sorted by grade and then cut down.

 

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

These layers of veneer are then sent through a drying process. Large conveyors move the wood through large metal structures where the wood is dried at approximately 230-300 degrees and comes out of the dryers in excess of 130-degrees.

 

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

From here, the veneers are sorted again, and the process of bonding them together begins. Resin is applied to the veneers and the sheets are stacked in an opposing grain pattern to improve overall strength. Heat is applied to activate the resin and the wood is cut down to exact sizes, in this case, 4X8 or 4X4 sheets. The layered and glued veneers are now compressed using heavy machines to apply incredible force to ensure the layers are well bonded.

 

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

After this step, the pieces of plywood are sent through scanners where any surface imperfections are repaired prior to being shipped to retailers.

 

Technology

How Plywood is Made With Georgia-Pacific

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

One thing you wouldn’t really consider as a particularly technologically advanced process is making plywood. After seeing the process though, you realize just how much technology enhances the process. A few components that were recurring at different points in the milling process are lasers, scanners, cameras, and computerized technology to detect moisture and imperfections in the wood. It was relatively shocking to see these tools we have on a small scale and used in such a large way.

 

How Plywood is Made With Georgia Pacific

The biggest impact in this was certainly one of the last machines the plywood goes through, which is a piece of robotic equipment. A piece of plywood is scanned for surface imperfections and this information is sent to a robot that will repair these blemishes. The robot accomplishes this by using a router end to smooth the edges of the area needing repair, and then a filler is placed to create a smooth surface. This particular facility had three of these robots and it was honestly one of the highlights of the tour!

 

Wrap Up

How Plywood is Made With Georgia-Pacific

As someone who frequently works with plywood and other similar building materials, it was truly interesting to see this process from start to finish. There is an incredible amount of precision and care that is taken during each step. Plywood serves a significant purpose in the building and manufacturing of homes, furniture, and cabinets. Next time you’re purchasing plywood and lumber goods, be sure to keep an eye out for the GP logo!

To learn more about GP, go to http://www.gp.com. 

 

 

 

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