In the 1600s, the art of decorating furniture with thin pieces of wood became known as veneering, and the pieces themselves became known as veneers.
Until the late 1700s, the pieces of veneer were cut entirely by hand. In 1797, Englishman Sir Samuel Bentham applied for patents covering several machines to produce veneers. In his patent applications, he described the concept of laminating several layers of veneer with glue to form a thicker piece—the first description of what we now call plywood.
In about 1890, laminated woods were first used to build doors. As the demand grew, several companies began producing sheets of multiple-ply laminated wood, not only for doors, but also for use in railroad cars, busses, and airplanes.
In 1928, the first standard-sized 4 ft by 8 ft (1.2 m by 2.4 m) plywood sheets were introduced in the United States for use as a general building material. In the following decades, improved adhesives and new methods of production allowed plywood to be used for a wide variety of applications.
Today, plywood has replaced cut lumber for many construction purposes, and plywood manufacturing has become a multi-billion dollar, worldwide industry.