This past week I was took part in a conference event hosted by The OLVDA (Ohio Valley Lumber Dryers Association). It is a unique organization of some of the knowledgeable individuals. This was my second event to be involved with them and it was fantastic. On this trip I was able to tour a wood veneer factory, a custom plywood plant, and an international lumber drying and shipping yard. All three were amazing. It really struck me about how far materials have to be processed before they can be put into our artistic process.
Recently in my artistic practice and process research I have been investing a lot of my time into traditional veneer techniques so the veneer factory was super fantastic to see in action, not just in text form (as I have become familiar with it). The trees are debarked split into "flitches" (half logs), then put back together and soaked in super hot water to soften the lignin. With the molecular structure of the logs softened they can then be sliced into sheets, these are then dried, trimmed and reassembled into full panels through a heat cured gluing process. This is done for the front and back of every piece of plywood you see. The middle core processing is a whole other process altogether. Different logs and species of wood require different types of slicing and assembly.