Hardboard and Masonite: Uniform Wood Products

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.

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Hardboard: the All-Natural Wood Product

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.

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Laundry Table & Cabinet

With a project like this in the house, it almost makes you WANT to get the laundry done…

This is the built in laundry table / cabinet I made for our laundry room. The cabinet is 24″x74″ and is made from 3/4″ Birch plywood and red oak trim. The drawers are poplar with birch plywood bottoms and the drawer fronts are solid red oak strips laminated onto 1/2″ MDF, the base is 2×12 pine with a 1/4″ birch plywood skin, and the counter top is 25″x75″x2 black concrete backfilled with white Portland cement, polished and seal with food safe bees wax. The cabinet finish is 3 coats of satin General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. The entire unit weighs almost 400 lbs and had to be installed on site 1 piece at a time.

– Eric Ritschel; Jacksonville, FL

If you’d like some more inspiration for your laundry room, check out this other reader-submitted project.

Do you have a project you’d like to share? Click here to send it in!

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

laundry table

Out with the Old? Thankfully, Not Yet.

Ten years ago, our family moved from the Minnesota to central Ohio. We had young kids, I was transitioning from a 9 to 5 publishing job to full-time freelancing and let’s just say, the budget was really strapped. I needed a workbench for cheap. I also didn’t have a lot of time to build it. So, I tabled those dreams of a fancy bench and drove to Lowe’s to buy my bench supplies. That amounted to a pile of 2x4s, two sheets of 3/4-in. MDF and a piece of subflooring. Oh, and some casters. I didn’t even have a clear plan for what the final bench would be, just a bigtime need.

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Banding Together

Remember those old Wisk detergent commercials where the announcer would disdainfully point out “those dirty rings!” Here’s the woodworking equivalent: those dirty plys.

With the exception of Baltic birch and its various likenesses, where the plys are generally uniform and pretty enough to show off, we don’t want to see those “bad” plys on most projects. Particleboard edges are just as much a faux pas to leave bare. You can get away with it on a shop project, but not on a finished cabinet. At least MDF edges, which are generally left au naturel, kind of blend into their surroundings unnoticed.

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