Solid Wood vs. Veneer: How it’s Made

When it comes to purchasing case goods, there is a common misconception that we hear all the time – solid wood is better than veneer. Misconceptions As you may remember from a previous blog on this topic, this is not always the case! Veneer has some great attributes, and is an option that should not be dismissed when looking at your options. Veneer is usually associated with inexpensive furniture with a short lifespan, giving it an undeserved reputation of being a cheap material choice. In reality, many high-end pieces are also constructed out of veneer, or a mix of veneer and solid wood. What is the difference between low-end and high-end veneers you ask? It is all about the quality of the materials used. If the quality is high, veneer pieces will look great and can have quite a long lifespan. Still not convinced? Let us take you behind the scenes and show you exactly how veneer is made. The more knowledge you have about your options, the better! What is Veneer? First, let us answer the most obvious question. What is veneer, exactly? Veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually no more than 3 mm thick. These slices are attached to a thicker core material to create the panels used to construct furniture pieces, such as tables, cabinets, dressers etc. Image from: http://www.columbiaforestproducts.com The core pieces can be made from a variety of different materials, such as fiber board, particle board, or wood. The core material, as well as the thickness of the veneer slices are two of the main attributes that decide the quality of the veneered furniture – and of course the craftsmanship of the furniture itself! How Veneer Furniture is Made So how are these thin slices of veneer made? It all starts with a tree! Once the logs have arrived, they are first inspected for quality, and then sorted into species. Just like solid wood, veneer can be made from a variety of different types of trees, giving you more options when it comes to aesthetics. Once sorted, the logs are then de-barked and soaked for 12 – 72 hours depending on the type of tree. Soaking softens the fibers, allowing for uniform slicing, and a beautiful finished product. Once soaked, the logs are sliced within the hour for the best outcome. There are many methods when it comes to slicing, each revealing the growth rings in a different way, creating a variety of different grain options. Above is an example of different slicing methods. Once sliced, the sheets of veneer are then grouped with the other sheets from the same log so that the pattern can be matched to create a natural-looking finished product. The sheets are then attached to the chosen core material, and then sent to furniture manufactures to be crafted into whatever piece of furniture they please! How Solid Wood Furniture is Made Now let’s have a word about solid wood. When it comes to solid wood, the quality comes from the type of wood and the craftsmanship in putting the furniture together. Although the process may be shorter on paper, quality furniture takes hours of labour and skill to produce. More inexpensive solid wood furniture is made using mostly machinery, and in most cases, requires assembly once in your home. Although they may be easier on the bank account, they may not stand the test of time. Higher-end wood furniture is crafted by skilled woodworkers, using quality woods. A great example of beautiful, high-end, hand-made furniture is the Amish-made Borkholder Furniture. This fabulous line of solid wood pieces is crafted using methods that have been passed down from generation to generation, resulting in beautiful heirloom pieces. Consideration of Both We know that was a lot of information to take in, so let’s just get to the point! Both veneer and solid wood are great options. Your final choice should be dependent on your style and budget. Here at Birchwood, we carry both veneer and solid wood pieces. If you are still stuck on what to buy, come on in and talk to one of our knowledgeable sales representatives – we want to help you in finding that perfect piece!