Veneering -- used as both noun and verb -- the craft of gluing thin sheets of wood, (or other suitable material, as ivory), on to a carefully prepared groundwork (technically, "substrate"). The process of veneering opened up a host of decorative possibilities, but requires an entirely different approach from that appropriate for designing in solid wood.
As a term veneer is often used in a derogatory sense -- as some people still mistakenly imagine, a cheap method of glossing over poor workmanship and materials -- where it can mean to "gloss over", "to cover up". Such a meaning is, however, unfortunate, because, itself, veneering practices trace back to ancient Egypt, from before the time of the Pharaohs.
Four cogent reasons for employing veneer are:
(a) a more balanced construction is achieved, free from the inevitable splitting, checking, warping and distortion of solid timber;
(b) the availability of rare and highly decorative timbers is vastly extended by using them in sheet form;
(c) decorative effects, duplication of identical grain configurations, to form matched panels and patterns, are possible, extremely difficult with timber in solid form;
(d) certain rare and costly burrs, curls and abnormal grain effects have very little structural strength, and would split, buckle or distort if used in any appreciable thickness.
Disadvantages of veneered work include chipping and/or separating of edges, fragility of top surfaces, etc., and -- due to excessive glue penetration -- lack of sparkle in the wood itself. Use of resin glues and synthetic laquers have eliminated many of these problems, however.
Portions of the above adapted from Ernest Joyce, The Encyclopedia of Furnituremaking New York: Drake, 1970, page 213.
The word comes from the German "furniren," old French "furnir," modern French "fournir," to furnish or to finish. Speculation suggests that when the word "veneer" came into use it was associated with the idea of a finish, or a decorative effect.
(Much of the material below I adapted from the Oxford English Dictionary . The long quote directly below - from the revered Walter Skeat Principles of English Etymology -- I inserted to show the tortured genealogy of how a single word acquired its current meaning; look especially at the date of Skeat -- 1887-1889, still the days of pencils and goose quills.)
1887-1891 Walter William Skeat, Principles of English Etymology Oxford : Clarendon press, 1887-1891.
By way of example, I may cite the word veneer, as having a strange history. In Phillips' Dictionary, (1706) we find: "Veneering, a sort of inlaid-work among joiners, cabinet-makers, etc". It is merely borrowed from German, Fournier, Furnier, veneer, inlay, or the verb fourniren, furniren, to veneer, or inlay. The latter is the same word as the "Dutch formeren, furm'eren, to furnish, given by Kilian: and both German and Dutch forms are from the French, fournir, to furnish, Old French, fornir, Provencal, formir, fromir. But these Romance words were, in their turn, borrowed from the Old High German, frumjan, frumman, to furnish, allied to Old High German, fruma, profit, and the adj./rum (G.fromm), excellent. The shifting of the r is exemplified in the O. Sax. formon, to assist, allied to Old Saxon forma, Anglo Saxon, forma, the first; cf. English, former. So that the word was at first Old High German, and then passed into French; after which it again passed into German in an altered form, so that the connection of German fourniren with German fromm was much disguised; nor would it be easy to guess that the English veneer is allied to English former, and meant, at first, no more than simply to help forward or improve.
1728 Ephriam Chambers, Cyclopedia
The whole is .. .polish'd with the Skin of the Sea-dog, Wax, and Shave-Grass, as in simple Veneering.
1762 DERRICK Letters (1767) volume 2, page 66
Their polish is high; the inlaying and veneering very beautiful.
1829 LOUDON Encyclopedia of Plants (1836) page 611
The old wood furnishes the cabinet-maker with a beautiful material for veneering.
1854 Tomlinson's Cyclopedia of Useful Arts (1867) volume 2, page 798, column 2:
The operations of veneering consist in glueing the veneer to the prepared surface, and cleaning and polishing it when so fixed.
1869 George Dodd, Dictionary of manufactures, mining, machinery, and the industrial arts. New York, Virtue and Yorston  page 413
Veneer is a very thin film of wood applied to the surface of a thicker piece. Its primary object is usually cheapness, to economise costly wood by making the unseen parts of a kind less costly; and in this respect it resembles a surface of stone to a brick building, or of marble to one of stone. When veneers could only be cut with a pit-saw or any kind of hand-saw, they could not possibly be made very thin or very regular, because the movements of the saw could not be accurately adjusted during every part of the cut; but when machine-saws were invented, a new power was given to the veneer-cutter. Veneers can seldom be cut less than 1/8 inch thick by hand, and this only in small pieces. The circular saws, now generally used for this purpose, waste a good deal of wood; but they have counterbalancing advantages. When of large diameter (say as much as 20 feet), they are built up of segmental pieces. The edge is made nearly sharp, and tire teeth fine; they will cut veneers of any size so thin as 1/16 inch. The veneer-mill is one variety of Saw Mill (which see), in which, by the aid of axles, pivots, pulleys, drags, racks, pinions, tooth wheels, clutches, adjusting screws, guide-plates, and other mechanism, the timber is pressed up against the teeth of the revolving saw. The beautiful regularity with which a large sheet of veneer is thus cut, almost as thin as cardboard, bears witness to the accuracy with which the saw is adjusted. Another mode of making veneers is by planing, shaving, or slicing. The scaleboard for hat-boxes, as thin as a veneer, is, in fact, a shaving, cut from the surface of a plank by a kind of planing machine. Veneers can be cut from a solid cylinder of wood by making a continuous shaving, beginning at the surface and bending in spirally towards the centre; a peculiar knife-edge is required for this, and the spiral shaving is afterwards flattened out to a thin veneer. Ivory veneers 12 feet by 2-1/2, and 40 feet by 12 inches, have been cut by this means from one single elephant's tusk.
For cutting straightgrained and pliant woods, the elder Brunel invented a machine, in which a very long and sharp knife had a reciprocating horizontal motion given to it; a large timber, placed beneath the knife, had a thick uniform shaving or thin veneer cut from its surface by this means. All the choicer kinds of wood: -- rosewood, mahogany, satinwood, bird's-eye maple, pollard oak, etc. -- are largely used as veneers.
Veneering is the fastening of a thin sheet of veneer upon a substratum of commoner wood. The veneer and the wood are both roughened with a toothing-plane, the better to hold the glue. Both, when made quite warm, are plentifully coated with glue ; the veneer is laid on the wood, with the glued surfaces in contact; clamp-screws are fixed on temporarily, to keep the veneer tightly pressed down in every part ; and by the time the glue is set and dry, the veneer has become firmly united to the foundation. The pressure is so great that very little glue remains within, but the union is perfect. This work requires care even when the surface of the foundation is flat; but when it is round, hollow, ogee, or curved in any other way, tools called veneering hammers are used, to press the veneer forcibly in every part; the two pieces of wood and the tools are kept hot during this process ; and, if the surface be large, many men are briskly employed upon it at the same time. A peculiar kind of cabinet-work called press-work, of recent introduction, consists in making the entire substance of the wood by means of several veneers placed one upon another. Five, seven, or even nine thicknesses are used; glue, heat, and pressure being the modes of insuring perfect adhesion. The grain of the veneer is made to cross in different directions. Being very strong and ye t very light, this pressed work is used for chair-backs and other articles of furniture. The inner veneers need not be of such choice quality as the outer.
1873 Ernest Spon, Workshop receipts, for the use of manufacturers, mechanics and scientific amateurs volume 1, page 411: column 1
In veneering with the hammer, cut the veneer a little larger than the surface to be covered. London: E. and F. N. Spon, 1873.
1875 Edward Henry Knight, Knight's American mechanical dictionary. A description of tools, instruments, machines, processes, and engineering; history of inventions; general technological vocabulary; and digest of mechanical appliances in science and the arts
. Boston, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1881, volume 3, page 2700:
Veneering. 1. The process of covering the surface of an object with a thin sheet or sheets of more ornamental material, in order to improve its appearance.
Veneer is usually made of a thin layer of beautifully grained wood glued to a substrate of either softer wood or laminated plywood. Thin slices of wood, usually produced by Resawing with a Bandsaw or, with a special Lathe, sliced, shaved or peeled.
Each method produces a different Grain.
Chiefly, in furniture cosntruction, veneer is used as a cover for either an inferior piece of material or -- as noted below -- a worthy piece of wood, but lacking the color needed for a particular setting. Thus veneering presents a method of constructing furniture that gives a superior appearance and greater strength, more economically.
Sheets of veneer of extra fine quality runs from a thickness of 1/28-in. to thicker sizes. Generally, veneer is cut in sheets from a log, by rotating the log in a giant lathe, or by slicing sheets off it. (First, though, the log is soaked in water. Various figured effects -- e.g., quater-sawn -- are secured by slicing a log from its butt-end -- also called "crotch" -- or from its sides.
Image adapted from Albert Jackson, David Day, Simon Jennings, The Complete Manual of Woodworking New York: Knopf, 1997, page 262.
Veneering has a lengthy history. Practiced by the Greeks during the Ancient era, the skill was rediscovered in the Middle Ages by the Italian, Filippo Brunelleschi, 1377 - 1446. In 1565, the first veneer mill was set up at Augsburg in Germany by a man named Georg Renner. According to John Yeats, "Veneering mills for precision cutting of stained and rare types of wood were invented in the 16th century by Georg Renner of Augsburg. The men of Nuremberg and Augsburg were excellent cabinetmakers."
Egyptian wall-paintings of 1500 B.C. illustrate the technique, which was also practised by the Greeks and Romans. Pliny in his Natural History (A.D. 77) advises:
The best woods for cutting into layers and employing as a veneer for covering others are the citrus, terebinth, the different varieties of the maple, the box, the palm, the holly, the holm-oak, the wood of the elder, and the poplar.
In northern Europe, by the 16th century, veneering was practised, at first chiefly as a means of using newly arrived supplies of ebony. In other words, in Europe north of Italy, during that whole historical era known as the Middle Ages -- it is tucked between the Ancient World and the Renaissance -- did not practice veneering
All veneers were originally cut by saw, a method which with skill could produce 2 or 3 sheets to the centimetre. The use of a bow-saw by two workmen for this purpose is illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopaedie of 1765.
From 1730 to about 1830, it was the classic work of the sawyer, and to rise to a veneer cutter was to rise to a point which marked the summit of their trade; to give us five or six veneers in the inch was the perfection of work, and, in this case, it would require no ordinary men to deal with a veneer of the size we have mentioned above. As may be supposed, when they came into the hands of the cabinet-maker they were very rough and irregular, to get over which the smoothing-plane and the toothing-plane was freely and energetically used.
Source: Anonymous, "Veneer Cutting -- Past and Present", Furniture Gazatte 1881, page 236.
By the 19th century, special circular saws were available to cut as many as six sheets to the centimetre, but -- for all but the most difficult timbers -- this technique is now conducted by less wasteful, knife-cut methods.
The rotary-cut method, which unpeels the annual rings from the rotating log in a continuous sheet, is appropriate for plywood manufacture only, as the resulting grain pattern is singularly uninteresting.
The core on which a veneer is laid must be stable and true if the veneer is not to split or buckle. Whether flat or curved, it must have an unbroken surface, which entirely rules out the frame and panel construction.Until the second half of the 18th century, largely, veneer was glued to an oak or pine substrate. At that date, the suitableness of Honduras mahogany as a substrate was discovered.
Progress in veneering was assisted by the introduction soon after 1700 of efficient glue to replace the earlier curd or cheese glue, but great ingenuity was still demanded in the design of cauls and other cramping devices necessary to ensure a perfect bond between the two surfaces.
The difficulty of gluing veneer to end-grain required the development of advanced jointing techniques such as lap and secret dovetails, in which the joint is either partially or entirely enclosed.
Wood is used in the form of veneer for a number of reasons. It permits the most economical use of rare varieties of woods which are available only in very small sizes and of special samples of commoner woods which by some accident of growth possess such prized grain patterns as curl, feather, ripple or fiddleback.
Woods which are particularly liable to twist or split because of their wild grain, or which have no strength in the solid because of their short grain or burr growth, could not be used successfully otherwise. It even enables thin cross-grain slices from the small trunks and branches of olive and laburnum to be assembled to produce the 'oyster-shell' effects, popular in Britain after the Restoration in 1662.Truth: some of the best constructional woods so lack distinctive visual texture, i.e., basically they are straight-grained, colorless, that -- rather than using them as the main wood -- more suitably, they are used as a substrate for veneered furniture.
Veneers are of several kinds: -- "Sawn", "Knife-Cut, and "Quarter-Cut ".
The term "Sawn" is applied to all veneers that are cut by saw. The log is placed upon a travelling platform, the fine saws being set in a vertical frame and cutting the veneers simultaneously through the log. The usual number of veneers to the inch is ten, but, if desired, twelve may be obtained; the latter are, however, thin, and not so serviceable. The veneers are numbered consecutively, so that "match" veneers may easily be determined. The ends should be bound with muslin to prevent splitting. Veneers to be in proper workable order must be kept in a damp place; they are then much more pliable, and less liable to crack. The waste of timber in cutting by this method is, roughly speaking, about 34 of an inch per inch of thickness.
With the "Knife-cut" method there is no waste whatever.
The log, having been opened up, is steamed, and, while saturated with moisture, placed under the "knife".[show image] Knife-cuts work horizontally along the "flitch", slicing off the thinnest shaving possible. According to Hodgson, The Practical Cabinet-Maker,
"The usual number of veneers obtained per inch of thickness is from thirty-six to forty ; they are therefore almost as thin as paper, and not at all reliable for hard wear or subsequent scraping and repolishing. Knife-cut veneers should only be used on those parts of a job that are not liable to constant wear; the only advantage -- and that a doubtful one -- which they possess is that the veneer will "lie" more readily upon a sweep or on the flat owing to its thinness, and with a reduction in time there is a corresponding abatement in price. Apart from economic reasons, a "sawn" veneer should always be used."
In the table below the text comes from one source, the image from another: the date of the text is 1843, the date of the image is 1872: --see "sources at bottom of table. I also commend to readers the chapter on veneering, pages 180-188, in Our Workshop: Being a Practical Guide to the Amateur in the Art of Carpentry . 1866. As the title indicates, the third source, Our Workshop was designed for the "amateur", but -- when your read the pages noted above -- I think that you'll agree that, more than anything else, it would frighten an amateur who wanted to do any veneering, primarily because, at the time, as an woodworking operation, veneering was more complicated than today, to the point where most would be too intimidated even to try. However, for journeyman woodworkers of that period, it is something that could be achieved with a minumum of trouble.
This term, though applicable also to contrivances for cutting wood by means of toothed instruments which tear away or remove a portion of its substance, and which are treated of under Saw, vol. xx., p. 476, and Saw-mill, p. 478 of the same volume, is used in a more limited sense to distinguish contrivances for dividing wood by knife-like or sharp-edged instruments, which most commonly act by the simple division or separation of the fibres, as explained under Saw, and which, whether they act by merely splitting the wood, oi by intersecting its fibres, divide it into several pieces without any waste of material such as is necessarily occasioned by the use of a saw.
The valuable nature of some of the woods used for veneering, and the extreme thinness of the sheets into which it is divided, often not exceeding the thickness of the saws employed for cutting them, renders it important to save the wood which is reduced to sawdust and wasted by the ordinary method of cutting. This has been accomplished in some cases by the use of a planing-machine, acting upon the same principle as a carpenter's plane, but powerful enough to remove, by a single operation, a shaving thick enough to be used for veneering, and equal in width and length to the log from which it is cut. The same principle of cutting has been most ingeniously applied in a veneer-cutting machine used in Russia, of which descriptions have appeared in many English works on machinery.
In this machine the length of the blade is rather greater than the length of the log which is to be converted into veneer, and the log is mounted upon an axis parallel with its edge, and turned to a circular form. The blade is then pressed against the log in such a way that, as the latter revolves slowly upon its axis, a thin spiral sheet or shaving is cut from its surface; and as the blade is depressed in proportion to the constantly diminishing diameter of the log, this operation is continued until the greater part of the timber is converted into one continuous sheet of veneer, which, as fast as it is pared off, is rolled upon a cylinder like a roll of cloth. By this curious contrivance veneers of any size may be produced, and the wood may be converted without waste into sheets so exceedingly thin that some have been used for covering or binding books. The appearance of the grain is of course somewhat different to that of veneers cut in the usual way, and it is said that the veneers cut by knife-edge machinery are not so easy to polish as those cut with a saw, their surfaces being furrowed by the mode in which the fibres are, as it were, torn away from each other, instead of being intersected by the saw. So rapid is the action of the Russian spiral veneer-cutting machine, that it will produce 100 feet in length of veneering in three minutes.
The application of knife-edge machinery to the cutting of wood has recently excited much attention, owing to the establishment, by Captain Taylor, of a factory for barrels and similar articles by such means near Waterloo Bridge, London. Having reduced the wood which is to be converted into staves to blocks of suitable length, his process is to steam them in ovens or boxes similar to those used by shipwrights for steaming timbers to be bent, and then to cut them into the required form by cutters worked by machinery, while they are in a softened state. By various machines the several parts of a cask or other vessel are shaped with greater regularity than could be accomplished by hand, and with astonishing rapidity; and they are finally fitted together by similar means. The same kind of machinery is applicable to the cutting of park-paling and many other articles ; and so great is the power of the cutters upon wood which has been properly prepared, that a person who witnessed experiments upon various kinds of wood observed, that the Knives went through a log of African oak with as much ease as if it had been a piece of new cheese.
Source: Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain) The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge London: C. Knight, 1833-1843; Peter Barlow, A Treatise on the Manufactures and Machinery of Great Britain , London: Baldwin and Cradock, 1836 [To which is prefixed, an Introductory view of the principles of manufactures]; John Richards A Treatise on the Construction and Operation of Wood-working Machines London: Spon, 1872, Plate CVI.
See also "Quartered Oak
Source: Fred T Hodgson, The practical cabinet maker and furniture designer's assistant, with essays on history of furniture, taste in design, color and materials, with full explanation of the canons of good taste in furniture ... Chicago: F.J. Drake, 1910, pages 276-277
(See quote from Herbert Cescinsky in entry on quarter-sawn)
As the supply of valuable timber becomes more and more exhausted so will the practice of covering the face of common wood with an ornamental veneer of other woods increase. The machines for cutting veneers may be divided into two classes—sawing and slicing. Sawing veneers has the advantage of preserving intact the grain and colour of the wood, but it has the disadvantage of cutting a considerable amount of timber to waste. The slicing process, however, is perhaps more generally in use. The wood to be cut is first steamed and then cramped in a frame, and operated on by a knife with a horizontal reciprocating motion, running obliquely across the wood.1 Before the introduction of a machine for the purpose, veneers were cut by hand, the wood being secured in a screw press arranged for that purpose.
Bentham, in his patent of 1793, claims the cutting of thin veneers or scales by means of knives from blocks of wood previously steamed, and fully describes the process in his specification. In the commencement of this century Brunel took out a patent (1805) for a circular saw for cutting veneers, and since that date considerable attention has been given by engineers to the subject....
Source: M Powis Bale, Woodworking Machinery 1880. page 192-197.
Mr. John Meadows, of Princes-street, Coventry-street, has obtained a patent for improvements in veneering, which consist in effecting the union of the ordinary veneer in such manner, that it may be applied to irregular surfaces in one piece , instead of joining it at the angles and forming it in several pieces, as usual, which not only gives a great deal of trouble, but requires to be done to a nicety, and when complete, is unsightly, so far as regards the joints being always perceptible; and further, is very liable to get chipped or become detached from the article to which it is applied.
In illustration of this mode of applying veneers, a number of ogoeed mouldings joined with several curved and flat surfaces, meeting at sharp or right angles, are shown in the drawings. A description of one of these will suffice for the whole.
The frame or other piece of work to be veneered is prepared of the form required, which, supposing it to be first of an ogee form, the veneer is laid on a bed of that form, placed in a machine somewhat like an ordinary screw press.
This bed is hollow, for the purpose of heating it by steam or other medium; pressure is then exerted by the screw on the frame, which is thereby pressed down on the veneer, and into the form required, between the heated bed and the frame or piece of wood to be veneered: so far, the process is very similar to that ordinarily adopted.
The next surface presented, or that adjoining the ogee, is a hollow curve, meeting in a right angle the edge of the ogee; the veneer is of sufficient width to cover this, as well as any other portion of the frame service required. On the edge of the ogee bed a hollow bolster is hinged, having a hand lever, by which it is raised, so that the side presented to the veneer, which is of the curved form required, forces the veneer into the hollow, so as to effect complete contact with the whole of that surface; a suitable curved ratchet is provided, which sustains the bolster in its elevated position, the lever being such as to give sufficient pressure for the purpose; the veneer is thus bent over the angle and pressed into the curve.
The next is a flat service, united by a right angle to the hollow. Another pad or bolster is hinged by a lever to the bed of the press, which is now raised and sustained by a click taking into a curved rack; the veneer is thereby bent over the succeeding angle, and on to the flat service, when the pad, to give the final pinch, is forced up by a screw; the pressure on the whole of the parts is allowed to remain until the adhesive material is sufficiently set for the purpose.
The bolster and pad before mentioned have the levers and screws repeated at intervals, according to the length of the frame or surface to be acted upon. It will be obvious that other arrangements and forms of the parts will be required, according to the particular form to be veneered. Instead of employing ordinary glue for the purposes of veneering, according to this invention, the patentee employs parchment cuttings boiled down and mixed with whiting, to the consistency of paste, which is applied uniformly on the back surface of the veneer, the bed being at the same time wetted with a brush.
The object of employing a white cement is, that the veneer, if thin, is not sufficiently opaque to hide the glue. An extremely thin sheet of brass is interposed between the veneer and the beds, and also a thickness of paper between that and the veneer; the angles are thereby better protected, and rendered sharper. Variations are produced in the forms of the beds, to suit other subjects to be veneered, by the application of paddings or filling pieces, to make up any or all of the parts to the figure required, by which one set of beds may suit a variety of designs of a nearly equal size-- Patent Journal.
Source: "Improvements in Veneering ", The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 13 1850, page 169.Notice this May 7, 1854, "patent infringement" case
for background on Meadows' patent and related matters, ill two books by clive edwards
...in cabinet-work, is the art of laying thin leaves, called veneers, of a valuable kind of wood upon a ground or foundation of inferior material, so as to produce articles of elegant appearance at smaller cost than if they were made solid, or composed entirely of the ornamental wood which appears on the surface. Small veneers are cut by hand with a thin saw, the block being held firmly in a vice; but large ones are usually cut by machinery, for a notice of which see Saw-mill.
They are carefully brought to the right thickness by fine planes; cut precisely to the required shape; and then glued down to the ground, which should be of dry wood, with strong glue. If the form of the article will permit, it is then put in a press until the glue is dry; but if not, the newly-laid veneers are covered with a board, which is pressed down either by weights or by poles abutting against the beams in the roof of the workshop.
In veneering on curved surfaces a somewhat different course is pursued, but with the same object, that of keeping the veneer in its place until the glue is sufficiently set to hold it securely. The work is afterwards finished with very fine planes and scrapers, and polished with fish-skin, wax, and a brush or polisher of shavegrass.
It may here be mentioned, that before the saw-mills were rendered applicable, the elder Brunel devised a mode of cutting timber into veneers by a kind of knife. This knife was formed of several pieces of steel, exactly in a line on the lower surface. The block of wood was carried sideways beneath the knife by a screw slide, worked by a handle, and the knife cut it by a short reciprocating or sawing action. The block was raised, after each cutting, to a height equal to the thickness of the required veneer. The method answered well for straight-grained and pliant wood, such as Honduras mahogany, but not for other kinds.
Ivory veneers, or rather thin sheets for miniatures and for memorandum books, are sometimes not more than one-sixtieth of an inch in thickness, requiring much nicety in their manipulation.
[Ivory] Vulcanite, or vulcanised india-rubber, is now used as a veneer. It is rolled into thin sheets, which may be either plain or embossed, and it receives a polish by the rolling. In applying this substance as a veneer, the sheets are dipped for a few minutes in boiling water, till they become as tractable as moist paper; and the workmen can then veneer with them round and over the sharpest curves and angles.
Ordinary wood veneers cannot well be bent round corners; a patent to effect this has been taken out by Mr. Meadows; but in general it is not attempted.
The Americans have recently introduced, under the name of prated work, veneering of a remarkable kind. Instead of a thin veneer being placed upon a thicker substratum, the whole substance consists of veneer.
It comprises four, six, eight, or any other number of layers. Some strong plain wood, such as black-walnut, is selected for the interior layers, and rosewood or other fancy wood for the exterior.
The veneers, which are of the usual thickness, are well saturated with glue, and placed one upon another, with the grain of each layer at right angles to that of the next. The mass, while hot, is placed in moulds, named cawb, and pressed forcibly for twenty-four hours. When taken out, the wood is found to be firm, elastic, and strong, and to conform to any curvature which the mould may have given to it.
On account of the crossing of the fibres, the wood can scarcely split, except by a force that would rend it to pieces. The pores have become so filled with glue, as to add in a remarkable way to the strength of the substance.
Mr. Belter introduced this art; and at the present day, pressed-work is very much used in the United States for the better kinds of furniture. Chairs of this make are in demand, for their great strength and remarkable lightness; it is the back of the chair, generally elegantly curved, that consists of pressed work.
There are usually seven layers for the back of a chair, making a substance surprisingly thin in relation to its strength. An odd number of veneers is usually selected, in order that the grain may extend in the same direction on both surfaces. The frame-work, for bedsteads is formed in a similar way; and so are the bodies of such musical instruments as the violin and violoncello.
Monsieur Bogaud, another inventor, has succeeded in producing dished or spheroidal pressed work: that is, articles in wood presenting much deeper curves than those just described. To effect this, the veneers are cut by machines into strips, each of which varies in width according to the part of the mould into which it is to be pressed; the cutting must be very accurate to effect this, and can only be done by apparatus mathematically adjusted. A curve of double curvature may be produced by this method. Hitherto, this dished, pressed work has necessarily been very expensive.
We must notice also Monsieur Amies' method of veneering in relief.
Two moulds, аn upper and an under, as in cameo and intaglio, are gently heated, and a sheet of veneer is placed between them.
One side of the veneer takes the device in relief; the other side, hollow, is then filled up with mastic or any plastic substance.
The veneer is in the first instance smoothed or polished on the surface which is to be in relief. Paper is pasted on the back; and it is while the wood is yet damp with the paste that it is pressed between the dies ; the paste assists the veneer to conform to the dies, and to retain the device when cold. The veneer is not removed from the mould till quite dry.
Medallions are produced in this way, remarkable for the sharpness and perfection of the device.
Source: Charles Knight, The English Cyclopaedia London, Bradbury, Evans, 1866- 1873.
Sources: John Yeats, The Technical History of Commerce: Or, Skilled Labour Applied to Production
1878, page 247;
E. Vernon Knight and Meinard Wulpi, Veneers and Plywood New York: Ronald, 1927 (an abridged version published as Part 5, in A. P. Johnson and Marta K. Sironen, Manual of the Furniture Arts and Crafts Grand Rapids, Mich.: A.P. Johnson Co., 1928);
J D and Margaret S. Wallace, "From the Master Cabinetmakers to Woodworking Machinery", CHICAGO, ILL., President, J. D. Wallace & Co. Mem. ASME, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill, Contributed by the Wood Industries Division and presented in the Proceedings at the Annual Meeting, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, December 2, 1929;
Herman Hjorth, How to Make Veneered Panels for the School and Home Workshop New York: Casein Company of America, 1932;
Herman Hjorth, Forty Pieces of Furniture Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Comapny, 1939, pages 1-33; "Veneering", "Woodworking", The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts, Harold Osborne, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 1975, various pages;
[Anonymous] "Vacuum Clamping System", ShopNotes no 40 (July 1998), pages 16-25; David Shath Square, The Veneering Book. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1995;
Jeff Jewitt, "Buyer's Guide to Vacuum Veneering", American Woodworker no 44 (April 1995), pages 50-53;
Albert Jackson, David Day, Simon Jennings, The Complete Manual of Woodworking New York: Knopf, 1997, page 31;
[Anonymous] "Vacuum Clamping System", ShopNotes no 40 (July 1998), pages 16-25.