Types of Wood in Furniture Part II

What is real wood?

The term real wood encompasses both solid solid wood furniture (see: What is solid wood? ) And furniture with real wood veneers (see: What is veneer? ). If a piece of furniture is described as “real oak” or “real beech”, it can accordingly be a product made of solid wood or a product that is veneered with real wood.

Accordingly, real wood is not automatically to be equated with solid wood. The specification of “real walnut” does not necessarily mean “solid walnut”. When choosing furniture, in case of doubt, you should ask exactly whether it is a veneered or solid piece of furniture.

What does partially solid mean?

In the case of furniture, partially solid is the combination of solid wood with veneer or wood-based materials. For box furniture in a partially solid design, for example, the frames (outer borders) of cabinet doors or drawer panels can be made of solid wood, while the fillings are veneered, for example.

Partially solid cabinets can also consist of a body made of chipboard with glued-on foil decor (e.g. in walnut imitation) and doors / fronts made of solid wood.

When buying a partially solid piece of furniture, you should pay attention to how much solid wood is actually used. This is the only way to correctly classify the quality and price of the furniture.

What is veneer?

Veneer or real wood veneer refers to thin sheets of wood that are obtained from a trunk or part of a trunk by knives, peeling or sawing. In Germany, veneer production is regulated by DIN 4079.

In the case of high-quality veneered wooden furniture, the manufacturer ensures that the veneer sheets required for the production of the furniture come directly from the same tree so that a surface that is as uniform as possible can be achieved when the veneers are applied to the carrier material.

Veneered surfaces are characterized by a permanent look. In contrast to the surfaces of solid wood furniture, where cracks or joints can form over time, the appearance of veneers remains unchanged.

Veneer types according to use:

  • Barrier veneers are intended to prevent the wood of the carrier board from “working” (bulging, warping,…). For this reason, barrier veneers are glued onto the back and inside of the wooden carrier boards. Barrier veneers are usually not visible.
  • Face veneers are characterized by a particularly beautiful look. They are glued (veneered) to support plates (inner and outer surfaces) of furniture in order to give the piece of furniture a “real wood look”. Cover veneers of hardwood are between 0.55 mm and 0.75 mm thick. Face veneers obtained from softwood have a thickness of 0.85 mm to 1.00 mm.
  • Lower veneers prevent tearing. They are glued on before the face veneer is applied.

Comprehensive information on veneers, the history of veneer and the care of veneered surfaces can be found in the PDF publication “Veneer in interior construction” from the TU Dresden.

Veneer extraction

When producing veneer, a rough distinction is made between sliced ​​veneer, sawed veneer and peeled veneer.

When producing sliced ​​veneer , the aim is to achieve the largest possible area. For this reason, the tree trunk is first divided. In order to make the wood, which is usually still very brittle, softer and more supple, it is then watered or steamed. Then special knives are used to win the veneer. It is a very low-waste process, in which only the remainder of the knife remains.

The production of sawn veneer accomplished with a special saw. This saw cuts or saws the veneer directly from the trimmed block.

Rotary veneer is characterized by a very decorative grain. It is obtained with a special paring knife. The wood is “softened” before the peeling process. Then the veneer is cut with the paring knife from the prepared trunk all around from the outside to the inside over the entire length.

Decorative foils as an alternative to veneer

Decorative foils have been used in Germany since the early 1960s. They serve as a surface material (veneer alternative) for coating chipboard, MDF and hardboard in furniture production. There are a large number of different qualities and patterns in the decorative foils, so that, among other things, various wood imitations and colored variants are available. Decorative foils consist of different layers and belong to the thermosetting plastics. Foiled furniture surfaces are relatively easy to care for and durable.

Types of Wood in Furniture

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