A veneer is a thin sheet of wood applied to the exterior surface of a piece of furniture to enhance its appearance. Usually, the veneer is a fine wood while the wood under it is of a common variety. The technique has been in use for over 3,500 years and perhaps longer.
Veneer woods originaily were shaved by hand, so that the making of a veneer to cover a tabic was a long, tedious job and one that required great skill. Veneers today are !/>a, Vyi and '/w-jnch thick, the latter being about as thick as four average sheets of paper. They arc peeled from turning logs in continuous sheets by huge veneer knives. Watching the process, you are reminded of wrapping paper being pulled from a roll.
For a time, in the early pan of the century, veneered furniture was considered by many people in this country to be a cheap imitation of good solid-wood furniture. They assumed that furniture makers saved money by using cheap wood and covering it with a thin sheet of good wood. Even today, you occasionally hear someone say disparagingly, "Oh. it's veneered."
These people don't know that veneering goes back almost as far as the production of solid wood furniture. They also don't realize that when a log is sliced for veneering, a whole new kind of woodgrain beauty results. You can easily see this by comparing a piece of solid mahogany furniture to a piece faced with a lovely mahogany veneer. Both are beautiful, but the veneered piece has gorgeous grain patterns that can be had only when the log is peeled across the grain.
Veneers, in furniture, are used for several reasons. One is the beauty of the grain produced by veneering. Another is that
some woods are too rare to be used in solid wood construction. One log of these woods might make several pieces of furniture in solid wood, but would producc hundreds of beautiful veneered pieces. A third reason is cost. You can make mahogany veneered furniture for less than solid mahogany furniture—the fact that gave rise to the idea that veneered furniture is cheap,
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