Timber veneers have a long history
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.
Timber Veneer Association of Australia (TVAA)