A couple of years ago, a question arose within the pages of Woodworker’s Journal concerning the origination of “Masonite®.” Masonite was the brand name of a product invented in 1924 by William H. Mason in Laurel, Mississippi. Mass production began in 1929, and it was produced in Mason’s hometown right up until the 1990’s.
There are two basic processes used to manufacture hardboard: the wet method and the dry method. They both start out the same way; the wood is chipped and then broken down into raw fiber by steaming and grinding. The fibers are put back together with the fibers rearranged lying in either two dimensions parallel to the surfaces or three-dimensional with some parallel and some perpendicular. All hardboard goes through these steps. The end result is two different types of hardboard. One has two finished sides and the other only has one side finished, but I’m getting ahead of myself.