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Veneer

Veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm (1/8 inch), that are typically glued onto core panels (typically, wood, particle board or medium-density fiberboard) to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry. Plywood consists of three or more layers of veneer, each glued with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for strength. Veneer beading is a thin layer of decorative edging placed around objects, such as jewelry boxes.
Veneer is obtained either by "peeling" the trunk of a tree or by slicing large rectangular blocks of wood known as flitches. The appearance of the grain and figure in wood comes from slicing through the growth rings of a tree and depends upon the angle at which the wood is sliced.

Types of veneers

There are a few types of veneers available and each serves a purpose.

A: Raw veneer has no backing on it and can be used with either side facing up. It is important to note that the two sides will appear different when a finish has been applied, due to the cell structure of the wood.
B: Paper Backed veneer is as the name suggests, veneers that are backed with a paper. The advantage to this is it is available in large sizes, or sheets, as smaller pieces are joined together prior to adding the backing. This is helpful for users that do not wish to join smaller pieces of raw veneers together. This is also helpful when veneering curves and columns as the veneer is less likely to crack.
C: Phenolic Backed veneer is less common and is used for composite, or man made wood veneers. Due to concern for the natural resource, this is becoming more popular. It too has the advantage of being available in sheets, and is also less likely to crack when being used on curves.
D: Laid Up veneer is raw veneer, which has been joined together to make larger pieces. The process is time consuming and requires great care, but is not difficult, and requires no expensive tools or machinery. Veneers can be ordered through some companies already laid up to any size, shape or design.

Advantages of using  veneers

In addition to the obvious savings of our natural resources, many projects built using wood veneer would not be possible to construct using solid lumber. Due to expansion and contraction common to all wood products and caused by changes in humidity, many of the patterns and designs possible with veneers would self destruct, if attempted with solid lumber. The limitless designs done with marquetry and parquetry would also be impossible.