When I’m commissioned to make a piece of furniture, I’m often asked to make it from solid wood. There seems to be a real preference not to use man-made materials in fine furniture.
Now for certain pieces, solid wood is the only viable option. Take, for example, a huge dining table made, say, from a single cut through a walnut tree with the live (waney) edges still attached. Perfection!
Solid wood, however, does continue to breathe and move as long as it exists. So, in today’s centrally heated, dry houses, this can be a problem, causing shrinkage and cracks. An excellent solution is to apply veneers to stable substrates such as plywood or MDF. The finished article can resemble solid wood very closely and does not suffer the iniquities caused by the dry heated atmosphere in which we live.
Veneers use a very small quantity of the original timber which helps preserve scarce resources and allows us to build furniture from any wood at a much more affordable price. Veneers can be “book marked” using alternative layers from the same log, making each section mirror the pattern of the previous. For doors and drawers we can also add a lipping to the edge in the original wood, providing a thick durable surface, that adds to the longevity of the piece.
In short, veneering allows fine furniture suited to our modern living, to be made in a multitude of wonderful, varied woods.