Make Furniture on the Cheap with OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

OSB is a board that is manufactured by layering and pressure-treating wood chips to make a strong and affordable board product that has wide applications.






OSB furniture is taking the spotlight as a board product that is ideal and very affordable for furniture and home decoration solutions.





OSB, or oriented strand board, is one of the toughest and most affordable board products you can purchase. While it is similar to chipboard or particle board, OSB is far stronger and more durable than either and still costs less. The downside to OSB is the raw look that this board has, but sometimes you can use this to your advantage when making furniture for the home by having something truly one-of-a-kind.









What is OSB?

Oriented strand board, or OSB as it is more commonly known, is a manufactured board that is formed by compressing layers of paper-thin wood strands and combining this with strong adhesives. The board product closest to this is chipboard or particle board but this board product is manufactured using chips rather than strands. The strength of OSB lies in the overlapping layers of strands that, similar to plywood, are cross-oriented to give this board load-bearing strength when used in construction. However, OSB is considered a more eco-friendly product than plywood as it is manufactured from smaller-diameter trees which means it has less of a negative impact on our environment.





Is OSB safe?

There have been concerns, as with many other engineered board products, concerning the facts that during the manufacturing process, the ingredients used in the production contain VOCs or harmful volatile organic compounds such as urea-formaldehyde, a chemical that is also used in the production of SupaWood [MDF], chipboard, particle board, and plywood. However, off-gassing of the product occurs from the date of manufacture which means that by the time it reaches the market, substantial off-gassing has occurred and only cutting or sanding will result in more off-gassing. Wearing a dust mask is essential when working with OSB, as is the case with other board products manufactured in the same way. [wikipedia]





Where can you use OSB?

Know for its structural strength and being a more durable board product than plywood, OSB is predominantly used as cladding on walls and floors, exterior panelling, sub-flooring, and now, in furniture production. The natural appearance of OSB has resulted in OSB being used in home renovation and decoration as well as the construction of furniture. [apartment therapy] OSB is also suitable for exterior applications for wendy house interior walls or cladding for sheds or storage huts.



Since its intended use is for vertical solutions, OSB is a far better material to use for wall cladding than Rhino or plasterboard.





A sheet of 11mm OSB with a size of W1220mm x L2440mm costs around R571 at timber merchants and hardware stores and this can be used for furniture manufacture, cladding, and shelving. A sheet of 9mm OSB with the same dimensions costs around R420 and this thickness is ideal for cladding walls and frames.







Just as we are seeing kitchens being designed using plywood, so are OSB kitchens sharing the stage.





OSB furniture

With plywood furniture having its turn in the spotlight, why not give OSB a little bit of attention, especially since it is a much more affordable product and easier to work with? When used in its natural state, OSB only required sanding with fine grit sandpaper (wear a mask when doing this) and looks great as is, or you could apply a couple of coats of satin or gloss sealer to really bring out the beauty of this product.





One of my favourite DIY chicks, Pneumatic Addict, did a project a couple of years back using OSB and instructions on how she achieved such a smooth, shiny finish on an OSB chest of drawers. She used epoxy resin over the sanded OSB and this provided a stunning finish. You can see the video here. The video also shows how you can take a cheap board product and use it to craft a feature piece of furniture for a home.





Not everyone likes to use epoxy resin and it does require some experience using it for perfect projects, but there is another solution for how to achieve a shiny or glossy finish and that is to sand using fine grit sandpaper until you have a super-smooth surface and then apply 2 or more coats of clear polyurethane sealer or varnish.




OSB is comparable in price to commercial-grade plywood - shutterply - but gives a far more attractive finish when used for furniture projects.





Use thinner OSB sheets for cladding walls and creating decorative wall displays.








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