A Brief History of Engineered Lumber
Engineered lumber is a composite product, formed of shaved or scrap wood and special adhesives. Its value is that the finished product is stronger and more rigid than the sum of its parts.
Plywood, the first engineered wood product, was patented in 1865 but nobody much noticed it until the1905 World’s Fair where a display of “3-ply veneer work” drew the attention of door and cabinet makers. By 1929 there were 17 plywood mills in operation in the Pacific Northwest, producing 358 million square feet of product.
When the Douglas Fir Plywood Association was founded in 1933 industry standards were put in place and the demand for plywood increased significantly … and one year later, when waterproof adhesive was invented, the market doubled.
During World War II the US military used plywood for barracks, boats, gliders, machine parts, and Seabee huts in the South Pacific and the industry shifted gears to produce as much as 1.8 billion square feet annually.
The post-war US economic boom gave this industry another boost. In 1964 the Douglas Fir Plywood Association changed its name to the American Plywood Association (APA) to include manufacturers that were cropping up all over the US and by 1975 US production exceeded 16 billion square feet.
In 1994 the APA became The Engineered Wood Association (www.apawood.org), and now represents over 160 mills in the US, Canada and abroad, providing universal standards for the production and use of its numerous and growing list of products.