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Much maligned for being cheap and nasty, which it often is, plywood was first developed by the Ancient Egyptions some 3,500 years ago. Composed of layers, or "plys" of wood laid at 90° to each other, it has two inherent properties important in furniture making; it is extremely strong, and it does not (usually) warp or crack. Its first use in furniture dates back to the mid C18th, when the fashion for fretwork and Chinoiserie came about. Normal wood was useless for the fine patterns required, and ply was used instead.