March 11th, 2011

Wood Veneer Basics

Veneers – What Every Designer Should Know
Quite often a prospective client visiting Linear Fine Woodworking’s showroom will touch a piece of furniture or point to a photo of a custom kitchen or entertainment center and ask, “What is this made of?”

The answers are exotic and enticing: “Hawaiian Koa,” “Mapa Burl,” “Swiss Pearwood,” “Drope Mahogany,” “Block-mottled Anigre,” “Ribbon Sapele,” “Macassar Ebony,” and “Etimoe”. All of these rare wood species, and hundreds of others, are wonderfully elegant and sophisticated both in name and appearance. However, few people outside the design and manufacturing community understand how veneers are made and how they are used in the construction of fine custom cabinetry and furniture.

So what is veneer, exactly?

Veneer Is Better!
Let’s start by destroying a myth. Wood veneer is not merely an inexpensive alternative to solid wood construction. Building from solid wood is not only prohibitively expensive, but will invariably result in an unstable piece of furniture susceptible to the effects of climate, age, and the propensity for wood to “move”, split, and warp over time. Not good for the heirloom buffet or bedroom set. Laying veneer over a substrate of MDF (medium density fiberboard) or furniture-grade particleboard ensures stability and protects the beauty and value of custom furniture for many, many years. Solid wood may be used for details and accents, but for cabinets, tables, and wall units the best value is to use high-quality wood veneer.

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