The best from the tree: how veneer is made
Veneer is used in furniture, architecture and cars. But how is the material actually made from natural wood? The veneer association Initiative Furnier + Natur (IFN) is an interzum partner. Its latest publication explains how high-quality surfaces are produced from the best from the tree.
A good veneer tree is a rare thing. It must have an attractive growth, but recognising the quality of the wood inside is an art that only the experts master. The species typically used are maple, beech, oak, ash or walnut – usually from Europe and in some cases from the United States, too. The perfect time to cut the tree is now, in the winter: “When the air is cold and dry, the tree will hardly be developing any shoots, and the wood itself is also very dry. This makes it ideal for veneer production,” explains the Secretary of Initiative Furnier + Natur, Dirk-Uwe Klaas.
In the mill, the tree is peeled, sliced, cut, or processed with a special saw for a rough look – depending on the appearance of the veneer that is desired. The thickness of the veneer sheet depends on its intended later use, amongst other factors. Very thin veneer sheets typically start at around 0.45 millimetres thick and can be as much as 6 millimetres thick. Other thicknesses can be manufactured on request. The finished veneer sheets must then be dried further, slowly and very carefully so that the wood does not become wavy or tear. They are then sorted by quality levels and stored by grades. “After they have been cut to length, the individual pieces are jointed to form what is known as a layon. They are then glued and applied to chipboards, MDF boards, multi-ply boards, plywoods or solid-wood laminboards under high pressure,” says Dirk-Uwe Klaas. The finished veneers are then used for furniture surfaces, in car modification packages, or for high-end products such as veneered skis, bags, glasses, kiteboards, bathtubs, book covers, shoe insoles or mouse pads.