Particle board is a cheap and lightweight alternative to oriented strand board or plywood, manufactured by mixing wood chips and sawdust with an adhesive resin. This mixture is formed into blocks and cooked for a long time at high temperatures and pressures until it hardens into a block of wood that has many practical applications in construction. Particle board is not particularly strong or water resistant compared with other lumber options. Therefore, it is best suited for applications where durability and appearance are not important.
The top face of particle board is often coated with a veneer of higher quality grain wood to improve its appearance. Particle board is often used to build household furniture, usually held together with dowel rod joints. Pieces of particle board can also be screwed together. Before working with the panels, let them stand vertically or horizontally in the room for about 48 hours. This lets the panels reach equilibrium moisture content so that they won’t bow after they’ve been fastened.
When working with particle board, or any other type of wood, always reinforce your joints by gluing them together. Choose a type of woodworking glue that is appropriate for your situation. One type of glue might be best for joining one particle board to another particle board, while another type is more suitable for joining particle board to white board. Glue pieces of particle board together across the unfinished edges. Hold the glued pieces in place with a clamp, allowing them to dry for 24 hours before proceeding. A glue joint can often exceed the strength of the component pieces of particle board.
2. Dowel Rods
Dowel rods are short wooden cylinders that are driven into guide holes and coated with glue to hold pieces of particle board furniture together. There are several characteristics to consider when choosing a dowel rod. Use dowels no thicker than 50 percent of the panel’s thickness. Drill guide holes before sinking the dowels. The guide hole should be just slightly wider than the dowel rod. The rod will expand over time due to moisture or heat. If the hole is too tight, the expanding dowel will crack the board. The guide hole should be approximately 0.2 inches wider than the dowel. If you are joining boards at the edges, sink the dowel as deep as possible. Drill a guide hole you can easily push the dowel into. If you are sinking a dowel into the face, drill a guide hole down 2/3 of the board’s thickness. Make it tight enough that the dowel has to be tapped into place.
Use countersunk screws with parallel threads and recessed heads. Choose a screw diameter less than 20 percent of the panel’s thickness. Longer screws have more gripping power. Drill a pilot hole that is 80 percent of the core diameter and 2 mm greater than the intended penetration depth. On the face, position screws at least 25 mm from corners and 12 mm from edges. On edges, position screws at least 75 mm from the end. Do not over torque the screws or you risk splitting the board.