America Going Chinese

I spent the day in my closet again. I need a divider wall and shelves to increase my storage capacity.

Nice, painted, real plywood paneling cloaks some of the walls in this house; it has grooves that simulate random width boards. I like the look and planned to duplicate it on the divider wall.

The orange box had no plywood paneling that matched my pattern. They did have a flimsy, MDF panel but that very thin medium density fiberboard (paper) panel has only one advantage: cheapitude. 1/8″ thick. Wibbly, wobbly, swelling, sagging stuff. Coated so it won’t take paint. It does not install well and it certainly does not stand the test of time in this humid, subtropical climate.

I bought a good, smooth sheet of actual plywood for about a buck more than the MDF. It has three core plies and two very thin veneer layers, all sandwiched into 5.2 mm of thickness. It “gives up” 3/64″ on the standard 1/4″ panel but I can live with that. I have a router and just four grooves to cut for each divider panel.

My neighbor came over shortly after I had discovered the “Made in China” label on the plywood. He spent his entire life in the forest products business and built a state of the art sawmill operation, planer mill, and a lumber remanufacturing operation in Wisconsin.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I’ve seen their plywood plants. They have big, modern presses but no conveyors or material handling equipment.” Of course not. Material handling is a serious expense here. People there are still cheaper than machinery. Skynet would not (yet) get a foothold in China.

He also told me that the veneer logs had been cut in the spring or summer when the sap was running. “Good veneer makers want only winter cuts,” he said. The sap stays in the tree and starts it rotting. These panels have black traces where the rot was. Chinese manufacturers don’t care. The 4×8 panel sold for $11.87 in the orange box and that’s all that matters.

Geno wrote in a comment to an earlier post:

It is a wonder to me that corporate upper-management — both for profit and nonprofit — remains ambulatory after shooting itself in the foot by doing exactly as Dick avers. But let’s face it, the best and brightest are the most highly paid; and since cutting cost is the sole liberal textbook criterion for avoiding bankruptcy, those employees are the first to go…

Cutting cost is the sole liberal criterion for avoiding bankruptcy.

Likewise cutting cost is the sole Chinese criterion for making sales.

What a wonderful economic model.

Oh, are we in trouble.

Engineering adage:
There is never time to do it right
There is always time to do it over.

Sometime soon I will harp about bean counters.

2 thoughts on “America Going Chinese

  1. China has a different standard than America when it comes to safety and ethics. For example, here in the States we have the FDA, and China has 800 million test subjects. To test a new drug, they give it to 1000 otherwise healthy volunteers, and if only a few dozen die then the drug is okay.

    My son worked there for six months, and he and his wife sent the kids home a few days early so they could spend some time together. The last night, he bought two sex-enhancement pills so he could surprise her.

    The label bore only two words in English: Nuclear Warhead.

    The store clerk adamantly warned him to only take one.

    His blood pressure soared to *Bombs over Tokyo*, and he burst a blood vessel in his right eye. The environment around him turned orange, but by the time they reached LA two days later he was seeing lime green.

    Amazingly he still had an erection.

    Don’t ask about the second pill.

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