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Understanding Timber Veneer

Timber Veneers can be made to suit a vast range of functional and design ideas. As a natural material and renewable resource wood veneer’s beauty comes from nature, enhanced by man’s creativity.

In specifying wood veneer, design considerations need to be taken into account. It is important to consider aesthetics, costs, hardness, stability and moisture resistance.  Whilst each species has unique characteristics, the way in which the wood is sliced, will produce very different grain characteristics.

There are a variety of ways the wood veneer leaves can be laid together and matched. Then there is a variety of ways the panels can be finished.

All these variations allow a myriad of design possibilities. It is suggested that early in your project you work with veneer suppliers and panel layers, advising them of your design intent, budget, grain and colour requirements, including the panel sizes and total project size. By using their resources, it will help to enhance your knowledge and help your client.

Why Become Knowledgeable

As for all creative works, specifying veneer and veneered panel products for use, is a challenge. It requires the designer to become knowledgeable about species of wood veneers, their availability, and how to use those veneers correctly. The designer must be able to communicate their ideas correctly, so the ideas end up with the original intention.

Subjective issues such as colour grain character and scale are most important. Objective issues of cost, availability and durability can be judged quantitatively.

For instance, when permitted by the specifications, most small or medium sized architectural woodwork projects may be fabricated from stock panels and not custom manufactured panels, because of cost and scheduling factors. Stock panels use varied sequences of veneers, creating panels of varied leaf widths and match and are stocked by a panel layer or merchant.

On the other hand, when a designer requires that the veneer be selected specifically for a project, specifies and draws how those veneers are to be joined and where they are to be used, the cost and schedule will increase - but so will the control of the final product.

Aesthetic Demands

With certain areas of a project aesthetic demands may be more important than cost, and these areas should have custom laid up panels. For other areas of the project stock sequenced matched and numbered panels may be a viable way of saving money and speeding delivery. By defining clearly those physical areas of the project where the design elements are most important and focussing on them for the custom manufactured panel products, and then defining other areas where stock panels may be used, will save time and money.

Custom manufacture of veneer panel products is very important when the doors in a specific area should match panelling adjacent to them. This requires the selection of veneer from a single source and the pressing of the door faces and the panel products by a single manufacturer. This differs from utilising doors manufactured by a separate door manufacturer.  In some case this may not matter, for instance where the panels and doors are to be stained a very dark colour and grain may take on less importance. In highly figured or distinctively figured woods or woods where the natural colour is shown, matching the grain, texture and colour is very important. 

Certain woods may be very intolerant of selecting from stock panels in that they are inherently varied in appearance. For instance Quarter Cut Tasmanian Oak or Tasmanian Ash has straight grain and fairly constant colour, which makes stock sequenced matched and numbered panels relatively easy to match.

However, utilising woods such as Figured Tasmanian Oak or Quilted Bubinga requires absolute matching since these woods have a strong character. In all cases consideration should also be given to specifying that the quality of finishing from suppliers is consistent for both doors and panels.

Fire Hazard Requirements for Veneers

Authoritative Fire Hazard Requirements for Veneers that explains the Building Code of Australia's requirements for Wood Veneer Panels used as wall and ceiling linings for commercial buildings.

Material Safety Data Sheet

Although wood veneers are not hazardous in themselves, the MSDS describes the precautions that should be taken when working with timber veneers.

Care Recommendations for Veneered Products

Details on how to care and maintain your timber veneer products.

 

For more help in matching woods to your design don’t hesitate to contact us.