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Wood products

Module A4 – Wood products


There are a lot of versatile wood products panels and timbers of which the naming is based on either the production method and/or the type of the raw materials (wood species) or the form of the raw materials (e.g., chips, flakes, veneer, fibreboard, timber). Wood products are mainly manufactured from the trunk of the tree.

In this module, you will get a general insight into the woodworking industry, learn the raw material sources of the woodworking industry, gain knowledge about the properties of wood products and, lastly, you will increase your knowledge about end uses.

Figure 1. Categorisation of wood products.


Wood-based panels and timber


Plywood is a strong and stiff wooden panel made by gluing  together veneers that are made by peeling wood  logs into 1.5-3.0 mm sheets. Standard plywood is produced in two main categories based on the used raw material, softwood (Figure 2a) and birch (Figure 2b) plywood.

an image of Soft plywood used in interior walls in construction. ON the left birch plywood used in building roofs.
Figure 2. a) Soft plywood and b) birch plywood can be used in various ways in construction ©Metsä Group.

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL)

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is a versatile material and can be used in a multitude of applications, suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Spruce  and pine are common wood species used in LVL production. Different grades of LVL are produced to meet the standardized product specification and recommendation. Click here if you want to read more about the basic properties of LVL.

an image of LVL products that are straight, and can be used as construction beams, or cut into precise forms.
Figure 3. LVL products are straight, and can be used as construction beams, or cut into precise forms. ©Ritva Varis


Particleboard is made from particles, small wooden chips that are glued together in a drum after which the mix is transferred with a conveyor to forming belts and rolls. Finally, the particleboard is pressed at high temperature and pressure. Raw materials used are for example by-products from other wood panel plants and sawmills, round timber, and recycled wood.

Furniture and fixture manufacturing is the largest application for particleboards. Two-thirds of particleboard production is used in the furniture industry, followed by the construction sector, where particleboards are used in walls, floors, and doors.

images of Particleboard mat (left), wood chips (middle) and a knife ring flaker (right)
Figure 4. Particleboard mat (left), wood chips (middle) and a knife ring flaker (right)


Other wood-based panels

Engineered wood products

Hard and soft fibreboards

Both hardboard and softboard are engineered wood products, each of which have their own characteristics in terms of raw material, manufacturing, and requirements for use.

an image of a hard fibreboard
Figure 5. Packaging is one of the most significant applications of hardboards. ©Suomen Kuitulevy

MDF – Medium Density Fibreboard 

MDF is made from small wood, as well as chips and sawdust, the sawmill industry’s by-products, the raw materials mainly consisting of hardwood.

The furniture industry uses MDF in the manufacturing of sofas, armchairs, beds, and fixed furniture. MDF can be coated with a variety of materials and is well suited for production of components in the door and window industry


OSB – Oriented Strand Board

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) (Figure 6.) is made from parallel-oriented long wood strands, i.e., long, thin wood elements. OSB is mainly developed to be used for structural applications in construction. Its strength properties are similar to panel products made from veneers.

Figure 6. Oriented strand board
an image parallel strand lumbers used as a load-bearing beams
Figure 7. PSL is made by gluing narrow parallel-oriented softwood veneer strips together



Parallel strand lumber (PSL)

Parallel strand lumber has a strong and stiff structure, and it does not twist or crack. Veneer strips give PSL a visually distinctive surface, which is often left visible. PSL is used in constructions as a load-bearing structure . It is also well suited for long spans.



Laminated strand lumber (LSL)

Laminated strand lumber is used to make beams that are used in construction in floors, walls, ceilings and roof trusses, and as different components, for example, in stair elements. It is made from small diameter softwood as a raw material. Unlike in particleboard manufacturing, the strands are made quite long, with a thickness-to-length ratio of 1:150

an image of a laminated strand lumber
Figure 8. LSL is made from long strands. © Raute

Sawn timber

Sawn timber comprises timber the surfaces of which have been sawn on four sides. Timber is also available without edging where only two sides have been sawn. Different profiles can also be made using special sawing methods. The logs are sawn to standard dimensions, i.e., thickness, width and length utilizing as much as possible of the available raw material. After cutting, the timber is graded and sorted according to certain quality specifications

three images of sawn timber as a material.
Figure 9. Sawn timber and its various uses. a) © Metsä Group, b) © Rtiva Varis, c) © Metsä Group

It is light, strong, easy to process, and its visual appearance offers various opportunities. Sawn timber is mainly used in construction, both residential and commercial, wooden bridges, platforms, noise barriers, sport parks and playgrounds.

The further processing of sawmill industry products usually takes place at a sawmill or, according to the current trend, in companies specialising in further processing. The different processed products are e.g.:



  • Planed and painted timber
  • Finger-jointed timber and components
  • Glulam beams and panels
  • Cross-laminated timber, CLT
  • Logs
  • Structures with nail plates
  • Thermally modified timber
  • Impregnated timber
The sawn timber manufacturing process
Figure 10. The sawn timber manufacturing process © Metsä Group


Glulam boards

Glulam boards are made from solid planed and cut timber by glueing the edges of timber pieces together to form a board. Glulam boards are used by the furniture and fixture industry to make shelves and desktops.


Glulam beams

GLT is made by glueing lamellas together. It is a strong, solid wood product designed for load-bearing structures and long spans). GLT has a maximum height of about two metres and a maximum length of around 30 metres. Primary applications include load bearing posts and beams in commercial, industrial, and agricultural construction and in public buildings, such as schools and sports facilities. GLT is also used in bridge building.

an image of glulam beams in load-bearing structures.
Figure 11. GLT in demanding load bearing structure ©Ritva Varis
an image of cross-laminated timber panels used in building walls.
Figure 12. Cross-laminated timber panels used in building walls. (Source: Adobe Stock)



Cross-laminated timber panels

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels are solid wood panels made from timber layers glued together in a crosswise pattern. The panels can be used as load-bearing and stiffening structures in building walls and floors. It is possible to build entire exterior wall structures from CLT panels using single panels as combined load bearing, and insulation structures.


By-products of the sawmill industry

The sawing process produces various by-products that are financially significant for the sawmill industry. Wood chips, sawdust and bark all have their own uses. Sawn timber accounts for roughly 80 % of revenues, and the by-products for 20 %.

an image of wood chips
Figure 13. Wood chips

Wood chips produced from leftovers in the sawing process are pure and can directly be delivered as raw material for the pulp industry.

an image of saw dust
Figure 14. Saw dust

Saw dust used as fuel in thermal power plants, pulp manufacturing, the production of wooden pellets and as raw material in the particleboard and fibreboard industries.

an image of bark
Figure 15. Bark

Bark is primarily used together with saw dust in thermal power plants at sawmills, also sold as fuel to industrial energy producers.

Innovative uses of by-products


Woodio is a Finnish interior  and design brand that makes products using their signature, innovative and sustainable Woodio material. Woodio material is world’s first 100%  waterproof solid wood composite of wood chips and resin.


an image of a kitchen sink made by Woodio
Figure 16. Woodio sink


Woodcast is a wood composite which can replace all gypsum and synthetic plaster casts in hospitals. The material, made from aspen chips and biodegradable plastic, is light, durable and breathable. It is hard and durable in room temperature, but pliable and self-adhesive when warmed up.

an image of a leg cast made by woodcast
Figure 17. woodcast


Visual quality and strength

Sawn materials are graded based on their visual quality and strength (Figure 18). Automated grading systems are based on machine vision. Scanners and cameras are used in sorting the products. In addition to the dimensions, cameras identify any knots, wane, discolouration, cracks, resin pockets and foreign objects and insect defects. The strength of sawn timber to be used in construction must be strength graded and is determined based upon grading rules. (Link: Strength grading of sawn timber – ForestBioFacts)

an image of x-ray scanning of a log
Figure 18.  X-ray scanning reveals internal quality of logs and improves the value yield produced from logs. © Finnos Oy
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This page has been updated 27.10.2023