Veneer – Not a Dirty Word

Veneer vs. Solid Wood

Did you know that veneering is an ancient art dating back to the Ancient Egyptians who used?veneer on their furniture and sarcophagi??Veneer is often used in marquetry, furniture-making, cabinet-making and parquet floors.?Veneer refers to thin layers of often rare and/or high quality woods.? Veneer is typically thinner?than 1/8″ and can be obtained from peeling the trunk of a tree or slicing large rectangular?blocks of a tree known as flitches.? The appearance and grain of the veneer comes from slicing?through the tree’s growth rings and depends upon the angle in which it is sliced.? Veneering?expands the amount of usable wood and therefore the yield of a rare grain pattern or type of?wood is greatly increased.

Many pieces of furniture could not be constructed using solid wood due to expansion and?contraction caused by fluctuations in temperature and humidity as well as solid wood made?pieces too heavy and therefore unstable. Also, rarer woods need to be used sparingly to?preserve the species and using rare woods throughout a piece of furniture is wasteful and?unnecessary.

Furniture/cabinet makers have always sourced and sought rare woods such as mahogany,?tulipwood, walnut due to their beautiful grain such as the ?flame? grain in mahogany or?rosewood woods or for the burls found near the base of a tree?s trunk. Veneer is used to make?valuable rare woods go further by gluing them to less prized wood such as maple or birch. Also,?using too wide a plan from these woods can mean the tendency for warping or curling over?time. ?The technique of veneering allows these rare woods to be glued to more stable wood for?stability and durability but without losing the look of the piece.? Curved surfaces are also always?veneered such as pianos. Veneering is also the only way to get the look of book matching which?you can see on many mid-century mahogany or rosewood pieces.

At the turn of the 20th century, most quarter sawn oak was veneered over regular cut solid oak.

Most new furniture is built using veneer and is often advertised as ?solid hardwood and?veneers.??There are advantages to this type of furniture construction including:

  • particle board and MDF doesn?t warp like real wood unless it gets wet
  • it conserves valuable and rare hardwood
  • it recycles sawdust, which would otherwise be in a landfill.

Veneer is not a dirty wood. If you have questions about whether a piece is veneered or not and?if so, what quality veneer is it, please don?t hesitate to ask us.

Veneer technique
Veneer technique
Example of a veneer strip
Book matched veneer