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Veneer: A little slice of nature in an individual design

© IFN/Danzer
© IFN/Danzer

In times of a growing awareness of sustainability, renewable raw materials are more in demand than ever. Of these raw materials, and as a natural product that is very versatile, wood is in the vanguard. In addition to furniture, wood can be used for floor coverings, doors, windows, stairs and even to build entire houses. Or, indeed, for veneer, which is perfectly suitable for surfaces on high-quality furniture, as well as for lamps, car interiors or even for glasses, mouse pads and sports equipment.

© IFN/Schlautmann
© IFN/Schlautmann

Veneer achieves its effect through the natural colour of the wood. This can vary greatly, not only from one tree species to another, but also within a wood type, and even in different sections of a single tree’s trunk. Then there are wood grains, which range from subtle to bold and make each piece of veneered furniture into a unique object.

It is true that, seen from the outside, trees have a rough surface, which is not necessarily beautiful. In winter, without their verdant mantle and in dense fog, there can even be something strange and frightening about these structures. But a fantastical world of all different shades and unique patterns lies dormant within them.

© IFN/LeuchtNatur
© IFN/LeuchtNatur

Finding the right tree for the production of fine veneer sheets is an art in itself, because the tree must be grown specifically for this purpose. In most cases, maple, beech, oak, ash or walnut are used for veneers. If the right tree is identified as having grown in an interesting way, it is felled. Winter is the ideal season for this, because the tree produces very little inconvenient new growth at this time of year and the wood is fairly dry. At the sawmill, the tree is then peeled, sliced, cut or a special saw is used to achieve a highly textured and original visual effect. The thickness of the resulting veneer sheets varies depending on their subsequent intended purpose. Very fine veneer sheets are only 0.45 millimetres thick, whereas more substantial examples can reach thicknesses of more than 6 millimetres.

© IFN/Roser AG/Orea AG
© IFN/Roser AG/Orea AG

The finished veneer sheets must continue to be dried slowly and carefully so that the wood does not warp or break. Next, they are sorted by quality grade and stacked according to type. Finally, they are cut to size and the individual pieces are assembled to form a “deck”, which is glued in place on panels made from chipboard, MDF, multiplex or plywood, or blockboard panels produced from solid wood, after which it is pressed under high pressure.

Coming soon on the blog: learn about the different backing boards.