Why would furniture companies use a manufactured wood product simulated to look like hardwoods?
What is Particle Board?:
To combat these deficiencies, most particle boards are covered with veneers glued onto the exterior surfaces made to look like the desired hardwood. To the untrained eye, a piece of furniture made from veneered particle board looks like a fine hardwood piece.
Should Particle Board be Avoided?:
As with all manufactured wood products, there is a proper time and place for using particle board products. For instance, white, melamine covered particle board is well-equipped for use in interior tasks such as building closet shelves. The melamine is clean and doesn't require painting, and if affixed properly, will be stable and strong for a long time. I have used melamine coated particle board for numerous shop projects, and it holds up quite well.
How to Use Particle Board:
For starters, a regular screw or nail that is driven directly into particle board will not hold very well. For connecting two pieces of particle board, use adhesives and specially-designed screws for holding particle board.
Second, the veneer or melamine covering on the particle board can chip when cutting with a circular saw. To combat this chipping, try scoring the particle board with a utility knife along the cut line. You might also try covering the cut line with masking tape before making the cut.