Masonite: Hardboard Hardship
I was saddened to read that Masonite Corp. filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Although, Masonite products are still being manufactured as of early 2021 by Masonite International Corp. The company has annual sales in the range of $2 billion.
I have always been fascinated by this versatile, durable material. Masonite sheets are widely used by construction and moving companies and have been for years. During the post-World War II Pegboard Era, Masonite's version lasted longer than other materials and didn't wear or splinter around the holes.
I have an ancient, beat-up but still-functional Masonite clipboard from my school years. It has had a tough life. I took it to high school and college every day and my Elbe clipboard (Elbe Products; Fall River, MA) has survived several one-story drops as well as numerous falls down stairs. At one point, a corner broke off; I reattached it with epoxy.
The gal with the wrench and car grille was from the inside back cover of a long-forgotten custom car magazine. The captioned card states, "Who needs experience? I'm a college graduate." In 1958, I apparently thought this was the pinnacle of hilarity. Now you know where the term 'sophomoric mind' comes from.
Masonite is a type of hardboard invented by William H. Mason; the material has been in production since 1924. It is made by taking wooden chips and blasting them into long fibers with steam and then forming them into boards with heat and pressures No glues are used. The long fibers give Masonite a high bending strength, tensile strength, density and resistance to warpage.
Masonite was one of the products featured at the 1933 'Century of Progress' World's Fair in Chicago. A house built by Masonite Corporation was on display; it made extensive use of the sturdy material and demonstrated its versatility. The unique dwelling was inspected by over 3,000,000 Fair visitors.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Masonite was used for many applications such as doors, roofing, walls, desktops, electric guitars and canoes. Its smooth, dense surface makes it a suitable material for table tennis tables and skateboard ramps. During World War II, Masonite was used for Quebec license plates in order to conserve metal.
While Masonite Corporation is going through a difficult period; the material is still being made. Don't worry - it's tough enough to survive hard times. (originally posted 6/9/09)
Other Pages Of Interest
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