History of Veneer

About Veneer History of Veneer Veneer Manufacturing Methods Veneer Matching

The use of veneer goes back nearly 4,000 years as early forms of it were found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Producing veneer entails slicing a thin layer of wood of uniform thickness from a log. This was originally done with a crude saw but now is more commonly done with knives, which elimates the “sawdust” and increases the yield. The art of veneering involves glueing a veneer to an underlining material, or substrate, to make a plied wood suitable for decorative or functional construction.

During the 17th century, the craft of veneering was refined as better tools were developed. The famous English designer Thomas Chippendale, in the 18th century, used veneer to produce his exquisite furniture. Later the piano industry became the first industry in North America to use plywood. By the mid 1800’s a veneer cutting lathe was patented, paving the way for the development of today’s high speed lathes. As a result of mechanization, by the late 1890’s plywood had become increasingly affordable. Today, plywood’s use extends to household functions such as wall paneling, cabinetry, doors, and tables to commercial applications.

Logs used for the production of decorative veneers are carefully selected according to size, growth rate and visual characteristics, such as color, figure and natural character marks. Selection of species and cutting methods are factors in the designed use of veneer, ranging from rare and beautiful burls for doors to quartered veneer for paneling.

The majority of veneer is sliced from hardwood trees, the deciduous or broad leaf tree. Occasionally softwoods trees, the needle bearers, are used for decorative purposes. There are more that 90,000 species of hardwoods in the world today, yet only about 100 are currently used in the fancy veneer industry.