Particle board is a manufactured wood, made by binding wood chips, flakes and sawdust with resins, and forming the mixture into board shapes. Particle board is very heavy and dense, and has many of the properties of wood. You can drive nails and screws into it, glue it. and saw it. You can't work it on a lathe, however, or carve it. The surface is rough, so it doesn't take a finish easily. If you paint it. it acts like a sponge and soaks up gallons; it must be sealed before paint application.
There is more and more particle board furniture coming to market these days. You'll find many small cabinets and bookshelves, at relatively low prices, made of it. Most of the time, the particle board is covered with a plastic film that has been photographically produced to look like walnut or mahogany, so these pieces look good — but not as good as the genuine wood product. You won't ever be able to refinish this kind of furniture — at least, not in (he traditional ways — and it shouldn't be included in your list of furniture to restore.
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