Natural Wood Veneers
Natural wood veneers was "invented" as early as Ancient Egyptian civilisation. Where thin sheets of wood are sliced from tree trunks. This allowed the Egyptians to create beautiful furnitures that achieve a consistent look for interior spaces. There are many ways to slice a log to achieve different grain patterns from the same log. Most common way of slicing veneer is quarter sawn plain slicing. Quarter sawn is due to the way the log is cut before slicing to achieve various wood patterns.
Different trees have different thickness thus producing lesser veneer sheets across different wood species. This also determines the value of veneer when demand surges. Even though this is considered a very non-environmentally friendly product today, it was however a better solution than cutting down ancient trees and using it to make solid wood furniture.
How are natural wood veneers processed?
The first thing that goes through the process is wood species selection. Loggers will be told what species of wood to fall and what quantities. The loggers will select an area of the forest that has the species and begin logging. The logs are transported by trucks or sent down stream to a processing facility.
The logs are soaked to soften the wood for easier slicing. The bark is peeled and the log goes through an inspection to detect for splitting on the ends. The splits are usually fixed through an iron clip to hold the ends of the log in place. The entire log will be sent for kiln drying to control the total moisture content in the log before being sent for slicing. After slicing the veneers are graded through a grading system that grades it according to grain, knots, sugar marks and colour consistency. Wood veneering is such a complex topic that Universities in UK offer it as a degree. However, in recent years such skills are rare and hard to come by.
When purchasing natural wood veneers, firstly you have to decide on what your budget it for a project as natural wood veneers can be very costly. The smaller the order quantity the more expensive it becomes. Secondly, decide on what color, grain and texture you are looking for. The more consistent you want natural veneers to be, the more it will cost. Rare wood species will also demand a premium pricing. Lastly, be ready to accept "flaw" in the product as it is still a natural occurring product that is peeled directly from a tree. It is best to speak with an expert to make your design intent clear and find a suitable product to suit your project.