ELI5: How are wooden planks like you’d see at the hardware store made from a tree? What is the process?

  1. The tree gets cut, branches are removed. The tree trunk is sent to a mill. A mill is sort of like a massive horizontal band saw that can move along tracks. The mill either cuts it into quarters or cuts the sides off so it's a rectangular prism. At that point they can cut planks/poles to an approximate thickness and length. Once that's done the wood is still pretty rough but can be sold. It can also be cut again on a different saw for a smoother finish and more precise dimensioning.

  2. From what's been explained to me, plywood is made by stripping a thin layer from a tree trunk (think like a massive vegetable peeler running against a spinning log) to make a very thin sheet of wood. Sheets are cut to size and pressed together in alternate directions with some sort of solvent to hold the entire sheet together.

  3. 2x4s and others are just cut with huge bandsaws that slice off the sides and then cut into approximate widths. Then the wood is (kiln) dried, which shrinks it some, and then it is put through planers to get the final dimensions. So 2x4 are really 1.5x3.5

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