The History Of Plywood
In 1797 the Englishman Sir Samuel Bentham applied for patents covering several machines to produce veneers. In his patent applications, he described the concept of laminating several layers of veneer with glue to form a thicker piece, the first description of what we now call plywood.! Samuel Bentham was a British naval engineer with many ship-building inventions to his credit. Veneers at the time of Bentham were Flat saw, Rift saw or Quarter saw; i.e. cut along or across the log manually in different angles to the grain and thus limited in width and length.
About fifty ears later, father of Alfred Nobel realized that several thinner layers of wood bonded together would be stronger than one single thick layer of Wood, understanding the industrial potential of aminated wood he invented the rotary lathe.
There is little record of the early implementation of the rotary lathe and the subsequent commercialization of plywood as we know it today, but in its 1870 edition, the French dictionary Robert describes the process of rotary lathe veneer manufacturing in its entry Déroulage. Once can thus presume that rotary lathe plywood manufacture was an established process in France in the 1860's. Plywood was introduced into the United States in 1865 and industrial production started shortly after. In 1928, the first standard-sized 4 ft by 8 ft (1.2 m by 2.4 m) plywood sheets were introduced in the United States for use as a general building material. As for artists' use of plywood as support for easel paintings placing traditional canvas or cardboard; a recent JSTOR article has brought to light that ready-made boards for oil painting in three-layered plywood (3-ply) were produced and sold in New York as early as 1980’s evident that there was an application precedent going back several years. When considering the advantage of simply cutting raw board to wanted measure, one might safely assume that the progressive phalanges among late 19th century French artists embraced this new support for their paintings from the very beginning of the national manufacture (1860's).