Not sure what type of board to use for your DIY furniture project? There are various board products on the market and each has its advantages when used in specific applications.
Also known as particle board or BisonBord, chipboard is manufactured by compressing wood chips and resin under high-pressure. Probably the most affordable option, you can buy various types of chipboard at hardware stores and timber merchants.
ABOVE: The problem with chipboard is that it isn't all good! You will find chipboard that is so inferior it almost resembles weetabix.
When using chipboard for DIY projects you want to purchase a quality product such a BisonBord, where the fibre chips have almost no gaps along the cut edge. Board that has lots of gaps and open spaces mean that screws have almost nothing to 'grab' onto and will eventually wiggle loose. You definitely don't want this to happen when you have spent time and money to make your own piece of furniture.
Steer clear of inferior chipboard products and always ask to see the chipboard before you buy, or specify BisonBord when purchasing chipboard for your home DIY products.
MDF or SupaWood
Anyone who has watched the Home Channel has heard of MDF or medium density fibreboard. Here in South Africa it is called SupaWood, although you can buy MDF at timber merchants around the country.
MDF is a cheap product imported from China, India or elsewhere, while SupaWood is manufactured locally. The difference between these imported products and the locally produced alternative is not only the fact that it is far better to use locally produced materials wherever possible, but also the quality of the board.
SupaWood has a smooth finish and there are no raised fibres on the surface of the board, whereas cheaper imported boards have a grainy finish. While this might not be of importance if you plan to cover or laminate the board, if your project requires a painted finish, the difference becomes immediately apparent.
Since it is not recommended that you sand the surface of SupaWood, a grainy board will result in a grainy finish. So, when buying SupaWood for your projects, make sure that you ask what product they supply.
Globally considered an eco-friendly alternative to most board products, here in South Africa our local plywood does not come anywhere near the standard of internationally manufactured plywood, unless you are prepared to pay for imported birch plywood.
At hardware centres and timber merchants pine plywood and commercial plywood, or shutterply, is of such poor quality that it isn't practical to use this on projects where the board will be visible and, as such, it is best to use as you would BisonBord.
Where would you use BisonBord or SupaWood?
BisonBord is an affordable, lightweight board product that is ideal for projects were it won't be visible or in plain sight. Use to make your own headboards or upholstered furniture.
SupaWood, because of its smooth finish and strength is ideal for furniture projects that will be painted.
You can use SupaWood to make tables, cabinets, bookshelves, and almost any other type of furniture that will have a painted finish.