Benefits of Custom Veneered Furniture
What is veneer artistry? How do you do it? What are the benefits of this method? These are three questions I receive nearly daily, so I thought I would address them openly here.
First, most veneers are real wood that has been sliced to a “thickness” of just 1/40 of an inch, see photo below, which means veneers are eco-friendly. Why? One solid wood tabletop often requires multiple board feet of a precious resource: trees. That same tabletop can be constructed with veneers and use only a small fraction of the same tree because it is so thin. Fewer trees harvested means a better environment for our future.
Second, a veneered table top has great stability. Solid wood construction usually consists of joining multiple boards together with glue to reach the required dimension. This assembly can inherently lead to problems. Wood expands and contracts based on temperature and environment. The bigger the pieces, the bigger the movement.
In contrast, when veneering, thin slices of veneer are glued to a substrate material, such as plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF). Plywood is strong, rigid, durable and lightweight.
(Not to mention, most plywood is made from sustainable forests and has environmentally friendly adhesives.) Most veneer artists use a process called “vacuum clamping” to adhere the veneer to the substrate. By sucking out the air during the adhesion with nearly 2,000 pounds of weight per square inch, any open wood pores are filled with glue, forming what is called an “optimum bond.” Hence, the stability – and enduring reliability – of a veneered piece.
Next, creativity is a benefit of veneer artistry. While it is possible to make some patterns from solid wood, it is limited because of the grain patterns and considerations to accommodate wood movement. With veneer, there are no restrictions on wood patterns or shapes – and even colors, using predyed veneers. Most of the expensive, heirloom-quality furniture pieces in the world (Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Biedermeier) use veneer and inlays to create their elegant appearance.
Finally, the use of veneers also opens up the use of the more exotic woods because it is cost-effective. Furniture made of solid woods like bolivian rosewood, ebony and others are too costly for the average consumer. But using thin veneers cut from these trees, it greatly reduces the cost of a piece and allows for more people to enjoy them.
Bottom line: I hope you can see by this explanation that veneer artistry offers beauty, durability, sustainability and affordability that cannot be found in other custom furniture making approaches.