Tim­ber ve­neers have a long his­tory

Australasian Timber - - ASSOCIATIONS - By Peter Llewellyn

WHILE TO­DAY’S tim­ber ve­neers are pro­duced with state-of-the-art slic­ing ma­chines, in prin­ci­ple ve­neer­ing is noth­ing new.

His­tory shows us that the an­cient Egyp­tians were the first to saw thin boards from logs to make best use of the ma­te­rial to hand. There were not many forests in Egyp­tian con­trolled ter­ri­to­ries, so they had to stretch what they had.

The his­tory of ve­neer­ing starts with the idea of con­ser­va­tion. Egypt con­sists mostly of desert, and tim­ber was rare and highly val­ued.

The Egyp­tians didn’t have slic­ing ma­chines but they de­vel­oped tools for shav­ing ve­neers from logs im­ported from Le­banon, Syria and Phoeni­cia. Thou­sands of years ago, in­cred­i­ble ve­neer work made of ebony and ivory was put into King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.

Re-saw­ing of wood into thin strips by hand is how ve­neer was made through­out most of his­tory. Ve­neer mak­ing dwin­dled dur­ing the Euro­pean me­di­ae­val pe­riod but ve­neered fur­ni­ture be­gan to reap­pear in the 16th cen­tury and came back into fash­ion dur­ing the 17th cen­tury in France.

Ve­neer­ing tech­niques be­came very so­phis­ti­cated dur­ing the Re­nais­sance, when tiny pieces of ex­otic woods and burl grain were used to cre­ate in­tri­cate de­signs and lav­ish scenes, called mar­quetry or in­tar­sia work

In the early 1800’s ma­chines were in­vented to slice ve­neer, mak­ing valu­able woods like ma­hogany and wal­nut go fur­ther by glu­ing them to less prized species, like maple and birch.

To­day, we have wood-based sheet prod­ucts such as par­ti­cle­board and medium den­sity fi­bre­board (MDF) as sub­strates for our dec­o­ra­tive ve­neers, which can be laid up in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways. The Tim­ber Ve­neer As­so­ci­a­tion’s man­ual “Ve­neer” shows how, and copies can be down­loaded from the TVAA web­site at www. tim­ber­ve­neer.asn.au.

An old art that has changed dra­mat­i­cally .... mod­ern tim­ber ve­neers are aes­thet­i­cally su­perb.

Tech­ni­cal Rep­re­sen­ta­tive

Tim­ber Ve­neer As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia (TVAA)

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