Eye -eye sir!

I think I said a while back that many panels do not make light work, and lately I have availed myself of an ample opportunity to remind myself of this fact. In spades.

Earlier today, a colleague of mine walked past and said with curiosity – ‘why aren’t you using veneer board…?’

Well, why indeed?

I think I replied, ‘why would I?”, or something scintillating to that effect.

But this does spark a useful enquiry; When is it right or wrong to use/not use veneer board – and I have done plenty of both. What is the difference in value and skill and time…?

I don’t have a ready answer that I think is particularly well thought out, but it’s an important debate – MDF mulch is bad for us, we know that – people worry about their furniture gassing off and have all sorts of dark fears about formaldehyde (one rep told me it’s in toothpaste so I am now a bit confused). However forests in general are dwindling, we are logging younger and younger stock, and if you talk to any luthier they will bemoan the lack of straight old growth timber for neck stock and the fact that so many wonderful woods are off limits – and rightly so.

So this grown up and very straight-laced bookshelf is made of 100% plantation grown American black walnut – and an excellent batch it has been too. However it could be argued that it is wasteful of the resource; veneer  can be a bit of a pejorative term these days, but the way the Danes used it was responsible – they were sourcing astounding batches of brazilian rosewood and using it reverently. Not that I think it was a good idea to cut ALL those wonderful old trees down….

However they understood the value of the thing and and that it was an extremely precious and limited material that should be made to stretch; they were also operating within a completely different cultural and historical perspective on the planet and its resources than we sit with today – you have to give it to them – the world might have changed an awful lot, but their stuff still looks damned good.

Now, for a bookshelf you might think that veneer’s the go, but personally speaking, solid timber looks and feels different, ages just fine, takes knocks and dents with grace and clearly displays the history and usage that it has experienced…. Also, the variety of grain and colour of the boards are much kinder to the eye when you can see them for what they are… with veneer, you always know there’s something unseen lurking under there, something that you’d rather have no truck with.

Also, in my defence, all these fine chocolatey boards were destined for flooring, so technically it’s a rescue operation…

– John

This entry was posted in Cabinetry, The bigger picture. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Eye -eye sir!

  1. Sarah Beckwith says:

    What’s a Luthier? Some one who makes Lutes?

    Lovely wood – want one of those flying shelves with a little drawer in ti

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