Veneer is not a dirty word

Veneer is not a dirty word

Veneer has copped a bad rap over the years and many of my clients hold a common misconception that solid wood is always better than veneer.

Mass manufactured furniture in the 1970’s didn’t help the reputation of veneer, when low quality veneers were applied to chipboard using poor adhesives. However timber veneer has been used by master craftsmen for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians also used veneers, more than 3,500 years ago.

Some of the most beautiful antique furniture incorporates veneer in its construction and it is often the veneers that give these pieces their unique style, longevity and beauty.

The benefits of using veneers in furniture construction are endless. Veneers can be used to create intricate inlays or patterns in the timber can be laid out in any creative way imaginable. This isn’t possible with thicker solid timber. Solid timber is always moving with fluctuations in moisture and temperature associated with different seasons. This movement across the solid timber will inevitably push and pull itself apart. The movement of the veneer in its thinner form is contained and will keep looking amazing for generations. One example of this is the extensive use of veneers in the marine industry where moisture and sunlight are constantly producing a challenging environment.

Veneers offer furniture makers flexibility in design, from achieving curves or creating unique and beautiful patterns through book matching, banding, marquetry and inlay as seen in some of my pieces below.

Most timber veneer is made from solid wood and involves a process of thinly slicing the timber. The veneers (or slices) are applied to either solid timber or man-made boards such as plywood or particle boards.  It is usually timbers of the highest quality and the most beautiful which are cut into veneers, such as Burls, figured timber or premium logs.

It is usually the older trees that exhibit more character and beauty so turning one of these magnificent old trees into veneer where it can be used over many pieces of furniture is important when considering the sustainability of the product and making the most of such a precious resource. The younger and more abundant timber can be used under the veneer in its solid form or within the man-made boards.  

The use of veneers is often the indicator of a skilled craftsman looking to create a unique design or highlight the natural beauty of timber, rather than a sign of cutting corners. Some of my finest work indeed uses veneers.

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