6 Types of Wood Boards – Best guide for Woodwork Beginners

For woodwork beginners, it is hard to find the right types of wood in the lumber store. When looking for wood, you will soon end up with sheet materials.

These are useful for making all kinds of projects such as furniture and cabinets, but they are also widely used in construction.

But which are the most commonly used types of wooden boards, and what are they best suited for?

The 6 most commonly used types of wood boards in woodworking are plywood, MDF, OSB, hardboard, chipboard, and carpentry board. Due to their composition, weight, size, and material used, each of these wooden boards has a different specific purpose.

You only need to know these 6 types of wood boards if you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker. The right sheet material will have a significant impact on the quality of your work and its longevity.

In this short guide, you will learn everything there is to know about the differences between these sheet materials, and by understanding them, you will be able to make the best decision every time.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

What Are The Types Of Wood Boards

Plywood

6 Types of Wood Boards - Plywood
6 Types of Wood Boards – Plywood

Plywood is sheet material, made up of fine wood veneer layers glued together under high pressure and temperature. The layers are placed transversely to each other, each time in an odd number. This should prevent the warping of the wood when the fibers shrink.

Types of plywood

This type of sheet material construction ensures that it is more stable than wood and MDF. In addition, it is also a lot lighter and stronger than the latter, making it the better choice for a large load.

Due to its properties, plywood is not only used for decorative purposes but also in construction, for example as formwork for concrete.

Plywood panels can be found in different sizes and types of wood, such as birch, oak, or tropical woods. Which wood you choose depends on the application.
Plywood for decorative purposes will consist of finer layers of veneer with a nicely finished end side, while wood panels intended for construction will have a much coarser structure.

Plywood can also be provided with adapted top layers. For example, there is concrete plywood where the plywood is supplied with an epoxy layer to be waterproof. These plates are mainly used as formwork for concrete.

My personal favorite plywood to work with is birch plywood. But be aware that there are two different types of birch plywood. You can discover all the differences in my article, Baltic Birch Vs Birch Plywood – 3 Big Differences To Know.

Each one has it s pros and cons. When you think Birch is not the best option for your project, you can also check out the alternatives in my article The 8 best Baltic Birch Plywood Alternatives you Should Consider.

Working with plywood

Plywood is a very sturdy material and processing is hassle-free. Of course, you will also pre-drill here, but screwing on the edge of a plate will not cause any problems. The screw will not pull into the wood by itself, and removing the screw will not damage your wood.
When drilling out the plywood you will have little splintering, but it does take a little more effort to get through the material.

To dive deeper into the world of plywood and learn more about this building material, I suggest you should read my in-depth article Plywood 101: Understanding the Basics of This Versatile Material. Highly recommended!

MDF

6 Types of Wood Boards - MDF
6 Types of Wood Boards – MDF

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) is made up of wood that is very finely ground into a kind of wool. This is mixed with synthetic resin glue and pressed into a panel. Due to the processing process, these boards have a much higher density than chipboards and are more durable and less brittle.

MDF can deform permanently under prolonged use. The outsides of the plates are very finely sanded for finishing. The ends are slightly coarser and it is better to sand them extra for a smooth finish. The MDF wood panels have many applications, from furniture to interior construction.

Types of MDF

There are different types of MDF, often intended for a specific application. For example, there is green moisture-resistant MDF.
Color pigments can be added to MDF so that you get a colored plate. There are also pre-painted MDF wood panels that have already been provided with a first primer, which requires less finishing.
MDF can also be obtained, just like chipboard, with a top layer in veneer from different types of wood or HPL.

Working with MDF

Due to the finer structure, MDF is easier to work with than most other sheet materials. Again, it is best to drill for this and stay away from the edge. Drilling too close to the edge will split your wood.

Because the plate has a higher density, the screw head will not settle into the wood by itself. In that case, pre-drilling with a sovereign drill is necessary.

The structure of the plate makes MDF particularly suitable for milling grooves or edges. The fibers will loosen during processing, and you will need to sand them to get a perfect finish.

In addition, the glue can ensure that your work material will wear out faster. That glue or plastic resin can be toxic, just like the fine dust particles released. Protecting yourself with a dust mask while sanding is therefore extra important.

Learn all about MDF in my article What Is MDF Wood? The Best & Most Complete Starters Guide, where I discuss this type of board in more detail. This article contains a lot of valuable information for your next projects, so don’t miss this!

MDF is not HDF!

Do not confuse MDF with HDF! Although they are similar, they have important differences you should be aware of. You can discover that in my article MDF vs HDF: A Clear Comparison of all their Difference

Chipboard

6 Types of Wood Boards - Chipboard
6 Types of Wood Boards – Chipboard

Chipboard is cheap board material, made from wood residues such as sawdust and wood chips.

Other woody plants such as straw can also be used. The fibers are mixed with a binder such as resin and heat pressed into wood sheets.

The outsides of the plate are often finished with finer fibers that are sanded to a flat surface. You can still see the coarser fibers on the ends. These wood sheets are mainly used in making furniture, such as cabinets and tables.

Chipboard types

There is the standard chipboard, but there is also a green moisture-resistant variant and a red fire-retardant variant. Each variant comes with a groove and tongue for easy installation.

Chipboard is typically manufactured between two layers of melamine. You can get it in a wood look, a classic white color, or an aluminum finish.

In addition to melamine, a chipboard with an HPL (High-Pressure Laminate) finish is available. HPL offers a variety of finishes in addition to the traditional white.
Finally, a veneer top layer is an option. This is wood that has been sawn to a very thin layer.

Working with chipboard

Chipboard has a tendency to splinter. It is therefore always necessary to pre-drill when screwing. The edges are especially sensitive. The plate will split faster there when screwing. This not only creates a crack, but also ensures that the screw can no longer fix itself in the wood. So you have little opportunity for correction with these types of records.

Hardboard

6 Types of Wood Boards - Hardboard
6 Types of Wood Boards – Hardboard

Hardboard or hard fiberboard is also made of wood fibers. These are wetted and compressed at a high temperature on a sieve that provides the structure of the plate.

Sometimes synthetic resin glue is added. Often this is eventually oiled and heated to make them more moisture-resistant.
Hardboard is usually used as a backing in cabinets and is standard 3.2 mm (0.12″) thick.

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OSB

6 Types of Wood Boards - OSB
6 Types of Wood Boards – OSB

OSB or oriented strand board consists of several layers of wood chips of a certain shape and thickness that are pressed together using glue. The flakes on the outside are arranged longitudinally, while inside the plate they are arranged transversely or randomly.

Afterward, the plates are sanded flat and are often still provided with a layer of varnish.

OSB types

OSB is used as a construction material for both indoor and outdoor applications. For this reason, most plates have teeth and grooves. OSB is also increasingly used for decorative purposes.

OSB is classified into 4 different classes:

OSB-1: These are used for decorative applications (such as furniture) in areas with low humidity;
OSB-2: these are mainly used for indoor construction purposes, but only in dry conditions;
OSB-3: these can be used for both indoor and outdoor constructions, as they are more resistant to moisture than OSB-2;
OSB-4: these are more suitable for heavy load-bearing structures, that in both dry and damp areas.

Working with OSB

OSB is a sturdy material and therefore does not split quickly when screwing. However, pre-drilling is recommended. The wood can splinter quickly, making it difficult to mill or drill out.

Carpentry panels

6 Types of Wood Boards - Carpentry panel
6 Types of Wood Boards – Carpentry panel

Timber panels are solid wood panels, made up of strips of wood that are glued together. The planks are rotated alternately so that they have an opposite grain structure to prevent warping.

Like most standard sheet materials, the wood panels are 18 mm (3/4″) thick and have a maximum width of 60 cm (24″). There are also different sizes available here. Timber panels can be found in different types of wood. The most common are pine and oak.
This sheet material is mainly used in the manufacture of furniture and worktops.

Working with carpentry panels

Timber panels are solid, which means that they will not splinter or split quickly, so you can work quite precisely.

Type of panelColorUsed wood Purposes
PlywoodDepending on the used woodHardwood like birch, oak, or tropical woodsconstruction, formwork for concrete, furniture building
MDFBrown , Green (moisture resistant), or coloredSoftwood or hardwood speciesFurniture building, interior construction
ChipboardBrown , Green (moisture resistant), Red (fire-retardant)SoftwoodCabinet building
HardboardBrownSoftwood speciesAs a backing in cabinets
OSBBrown / YellowSoftwood like pineconstruction material / for decorative elements in interiors
Carpentry panelsDepending on the used woodSoftwood like pine, hardwood like OakFurniture building, worktops
Types of wood boards comparison chart

What Sizes Do Wood Boards Come In?

Plywood, MDF, OSB chipboard, and hardboard are most commonly available in 1220 mm (4′) wide and 2440 mm (8′) long boards. Other dimensions may be possible, depending on the supplier of your wooden signs.

OSB is also often found in half boards, for example, 590 mm (2′) wide and 2440 mm (8′) long. Other dimensions are 2800 mm (9.18′) x 1196 mm (3.92′). Carpentry panels are available in widths of 60 cm and different lengths depending on the supplier’s offer.

What Thicknesses Do Wood Boards Come In?

Wooden boards such as plywood, chipboard, and MDF are available in different thicknesses. the most common thicknesses are 3mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm, and 18mm (1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 3/4″)

Carpentry board is most commonly found in 18mm (3/4″) thickness

OSB can be purchased in thicknesses 9 mm (3/8″), 11 mm (7/16″) and 18 mm (3/4″).
Hardboard is only available in a thickness of 3.2 mm (0.12″) as far as I know.

To see what thicknesses are offered you can visit the websites of some of the most well know manufacturers of wooden boards like Colombia forest products, Murphy plywood, and many others

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Conclusion

Woodworkers of all expertise must understand the variations between the most common types of wood boards. These six board variations include plywood, MDF, OSB, hardboard, chipboard, and carpentry board, which vary in composition, weightiness, size, and components used for distinct purposes.

Working with plywood, MDF and chipboard is typically straightforward, yet it is vital to take certain precautions when drilling or sanding such sheet materials for use in construction or furniture making. Pre-drilling holes or using masks to protect against hazardous fumes and particles should be mandatory.

By becoming enlightened on the particular characteristics of each type of wood board, woodworkers can confidently decide what material is best suited for their project and guarantee superior quality and enduring strength.

Woodworkers often use solid wood materials like oak and walnut for their durability, versatility, and attractive aesthetic next to the wooden boards discussed in this article. Out of these two woods, walnut stands out for its distinctive coloration and texture. For those reasons, it is wise to peruse my article “6 Different Types of Walnut Wood: A Comprehensive Guide” afterward.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are boards in wood?

Flat wooden boards are commonly employed in carpentry tasks, typically rectangular in structure and available in a myriad of sizes and thicknesses.

What wood are boards made of?

Boards can be made from a variety of woods, including oak, pine, cedar, mahogany, and more. The type of wood used will depend on the project and the desired look and durability of the finished product.

Which board is best for woodwork?

The best board for a woodworking project will depend on the specific project and its requirements. For example, oak boards are strong and durable, while pine boards are affordable and easy to work with.

Why are they called boards?

The term “board” comes from the Old English word “bord,” which means a flat piece of wood. Over time, the term has come to refer to any flat piece of material, whether it’s made of wood, plastic, or another substance.

What are the different types of board?

There are many different types of board used in woodworking, including solid wood boards, plywood, particle board, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and more.

What is the strongest wood board?

The strength of a wood board will depend on the type of wood it’s made from, as well as its thickness and other factors. Generally, hardwoods like oak and maple are stronger than softwoods like pine and cedar.

Is plywood stronger than wood?

Plywood is often stronger than solid wood of the same thickness because it is made up of multiple layers of wood that are glued together in alternating grain patterns. This creates a more stable and durable material.

Are boards waterproof?

Not all boards are waterproof. Some types of wood, like cedar and redwood, are naturally resistant to water and decay, while others, like pine, will absorb water and can rot if not treated properly.

What is another name for a wooden board?

A wooden board may also be called a plank, panel, or slat, depending on its size and shape.

Are wooden boards and plywood the same?

Plywood is a wooden board, but a wooden board is more than just plywood. They are both used in woodworking projects. Wooden boards refer to solid pieces of wood or composite wood such as plywood, MDF or hardboard, Plywood is often stronger and more stable than solid wood, but it may not have the same natural beauty and character.

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I hope this article about the most common different types of wood boards was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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