The Beauty of Veneer
The Beauty of Veneer
It is often misconstrued that veneer plays secondary to solid timber in bespoke furniture. There is no doubt solid timber has a natural beauty and sometimes this cannot be replicated in any way. There are drawbacks however to solid timber as it can come with restrictions in terms of design scope. The other consideration now to using solid wood must be the preservation of our natural surroundings. Whether we look to make our furniture from solid timber or veneers, it must be properly sourced and FSC registered – wood harvested from forests that are responsibly managed.
The history of veneers
Veneering is known to have been used as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, though it was not until the Renaissance and Baroque period that veneering became predominantly used as a method for decorative purposes. By the mid 18th century, the craft of marquetry was spreading through Europe from Italy across to Spain and France. This form found its way across the channel to Britain where cabinet makers developed a unique style featuring decorative Walnut veneers. Throughout the Regency period, Flame and curl Mahogany – this was the section of the tree where two large branches divide forming the flame effect – were extensively used through to the Edwardian period in Britain. Fast forward to the 21st century and veneer is not just used for decorative purposes but also in the mass production of board material. This comes in large sizes, so that furniture can be made economically and sustainably. The furniture therefore looks like solid timber but in fact just uses a thin layer of the desired substrate.
The beauty of wood veneers and their possibilities
The range of veneers that can be sourced now are staggering from traditional natural decorative veneers such as burrs, burls, curls, figured and bird’s eye. In addition, there are normal, crown and quartered cut veneer from many species of timber as well as dyed and man-made or engineered veneers. The laying of veneer is a traditional skill that cabinet makers of the past learned. Though it has almost been lost, this skill has seen a revival in the last 20 years or so with also the introduction of modern machinery such as lasers that can be used to cut the veneers. Using veneers within a piece of furniture, gives the designer more freedom to be creative as the substrate is more stable. When using solid timber, more thought and consideration must be given for the natural expansion and contraction of timber. Veneer can be laid in many ways from slip matching to book matching to create decorative patterns and forms.
Here at Ashton Bespoke, veneering is something that we’ve been doing for decades and have a wealth of experience in this field. Within the coming weeks we currently have two cocktail cabinets in a man-made engineered veneer, a drinks cabinet in a natural figured dyed veneer and a traditional style writing desk in a decorative burr oak veneer. Keep an eye out on our Instagram for upcoming posts on the finished pieces.
Click here to read more about our processes