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post #1 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Veneer?

I've been reading a book about woodworking and it said something to the effect of "often the best logs are sold for extremely high prices for use as veneers."

Now, I have always thought of veneers in relation to the cardboard stuff you see at most furniture stores. Frankly, I have always hated the idea.

However, now I am curious if veneers have a - for lack of a better word - legitimate use among "real" woodworkers. If so, in what circumstances could a veneer be preferable to solid wood in "real" furniture making?


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post #2 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 01:34 PM
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Veneers have been in use for thousands of years and some of the finest, most beautiful furniture ever built is veneered. It's great stuff!

Here's a thread about a veneered jewelry box I made for my Mom. I've veneered dozens of pieces through the years, actually may well over that number.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/jewelry-box-mom-62802/

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post #3 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
Veneers have been in use for thousands of years and some of the finest, most beautiful furniture ever built is veneered. It's great stuff!

Here's a thread about a veneered jewelry box I made for my Mom. I've veneered dozens of pieces through the years, actually may well over that number.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/jewelry-box-mom-62802/

Very beautiful! I want to look at the photos again when I get home so I can see more detail. Am I correct in assuming the purpose of using a veneer is to give the look of a very expensive or rare wood at lower cost than if you were to make the piece entirely out of the veneer material?


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post #4 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 02:49 PM
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Very beautiful! I want to look at the photos again when I get home so I can see more detail. Am I correct in assuming the purpose of using a veneer is to give the look of a very expensive or rare wood at lower cost than if you were to make the piece entirely out of the veneer material?


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Not always but that's sometimes the case. In the case of the jewelry box I made, the substrate is Honduras Mahogany which is a very nice wood. It was finger-jointed and I could have put a finish on that with no problem. But the look I wanted was based around the Rosewood veneer I bought for this project. I doubt solid lumber was even available in the particular type of Rosewood I used.

Veneers are often used for Marquetry and Intarsia where it's just not practical to use thicker wood (lumber). A lot of woodworkers view veneered work as being a little higher up the food chain in skills and talent required to achieve an end result (I don't think that's the case, btw - not hard, just different than lumber). Even more important, buyers and customers often place finely veneered work above solid lumber in value. When I did woodworking professionally I can tell you that everything veneered commanded a higher price than solid lumber work. Now some of that was because the solid lumber work was Honduras Mahogany, American Walnut, etc. - all very nice woods - but when you start talking about Walnut Burl, Figured Koa, Carpathian Elm Burl, Imbuya Burl, Olive Ash Burl, etc. people seem to automatically want to pay more... I had no problem letting them.

Veneering is just another means to an end. If your project requires veneer for an end result or look, then veneer. If your need for veneer is because solid lumber in the same wood costs too much or isn't available in lumber, then veneer.

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post #5 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 03:09 PM
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Another use for veneer... a lamp I made recently.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/lamp-61802/
When I saw this plan I had to try it, and I'm very happy I did. I love how it glows and shows off the figure in the wood with back lighting. The pictures I took don't do it justice. I've been pondering other wood veneer lamp shade ideas...
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 03:26 PM
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Another use for veneer... a lamp I made recently.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/lamp-61802/
When I saw this plan I had to try it, and I'm very happy I did. I love how it glows and shows off the figure in the wood with back lighting. The pictures I took don't do it justice. I've been pondering other wood veneer lamp shade ideas...
Absolutely! I enjoyed seeing that when you posted it, Dean - very well executed project.

Of course, it takes a whole lot more light to get the same effect with solid lumber...

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post #7 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Another use for veneer... a lamp I made recently.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/lamp-61802/
When I saw this plan I had to try it, and I'm very happy I did. I love how it glows and shows off the figure in the wood with back lighting. The pictures I took don't do it justice. I've been pondering other wood veneer lamp shade ideas...

Very cool :). Sent that pic to my wife; maybe I will be making(mangling?) one of those someday. :)


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post #8 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 04:28 PM
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It's like anything else a person could do great things with veneer or make it into cardboard grade furniture. In recent years they have been doing some really bad stuff with plywood and veneer. A lot of it the finish sheet of veneer on plywood is so thin you can see the core veneer through the sheets. Sometimes on 1/4" plywood you can hold it up the the sunlight and see light comming through the sheet. They don't bother fixing the voids in the core before veneering over it.

The veneer companies get the best logs because it would be difficult to use if there was any knots and defects in the sheets. They would have to cut around all the knots and make more seams in the veneer to put it together as a sheet. Also they can get more usable wood out of a log turning it into veneer than you could with boards. Boards are cut oversized from the finished size so it can be dried and machined and also a lot is lost from the saw cut.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 04:28 PM
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As was said, veneer has been used on some of the finest furniture. Unfortunately it has gotten a bad reputation from furniture makers who use it to cover particleboard crap that falls apart.

You can use it to achieve effects that would be difficult to achieve with solid wood such as 4 way bookmatching, sunburst effects, etc.

Marquetry also uses many different kinds of veneer to create a scene like a painting. I am dabbling with this currently, in fact.

One correction to above though, intarsia does not use veneer. That is done with solid wood. Pieces of wood are cut out and shaped to make an object in 3D.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 04:43 PM
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Veneers I use veneers an I make table tops, an other art work. I will let you be the Judge of Veneers
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 05:36 PM
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One correction to above though, intarsia does not use veneer. That is done with solid wood. Pieces of wood are cut out and shaped to make an object in 3D.
You are correct, sir. I got carried away!

I've done some Intarsia work with 1/8" and 3/16" thick wood that's just on the verge of being either veneer or really thin lumber. But I'll go with tradition - Marquetry, veneer; Intarsia, lumber.

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post #12 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by difalkner
You are correct, sir. I got carried away! I've done some Intarsia work with 1/8" and 3/16" thick wood that's just on the verge of being either veneer or really thin lumber. But I'll go with tradition - Marquetry, veneer; Intarsia, lumber.
Typically from what I've seen, 1/16" is where it starts being referred to as veneer. Super thick veneer, but veneer.

Typically most commercially available veneer is 1/42"
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-27-2014, 06:00 PM
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This Veneer top I used on my work bench it is 1/8 inch thick an went on Baltic Burch Plywood both sides its still veneer its the Ash burl
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-28-2014, 08:58 AM
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i remember thinking as you are now, that something made of solid wood has to be better than anything made with plywood and veneer. you will learn that often there is a material that is best for a project for several reasons. solid wood is somewhat difficult to be stable, flat and not shrink and expand with every season. so the furniture design and joinery must allow for these issues. veneered plywood avoids these problems, so may allow for some creativity and joinery options.

there are many fine pieces made of solid wood, and most any furniture can be made of solid wood.

Last edited by TimPa; 05-28-2014 at 09:00 AM.
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