What Is Timber Veneers? The Ultimate Guide

Our Ultimate Timber Veneer Guide:

In one of our previous informational plywood guides, our team at Cabinet Timbers took a closer look at all things plywood to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this innovative wood material. And although our plywood products are among our best-selling materials here at Cabinet Timbers, there are other products that we receive questions and inquiries for regularly: one being our high-quality timber veneers.

So, what is timber veneers exactly? How are they made, and do they have any other applications aside from being used to produce plywood? If these are questions you’ve asked yourself when browsing through our veneers, and the other wood panel products we have on offer, then this is the guide for you.

Today, we’ll be answering some questions about what is timber veneers, touching upon what they are, how they’re made, their most common use cases, and concluding with what you’ll need to know to find the right timber veneers for your next hobby or commercial woodworking project.

Here’s what we’ll be covering in today’s expert timber veneers guide:

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What is timber veneers?

A timber veneer is a thin layer (or veneer) of sliced wood that’s typically manufactured at lumber mills for either plywood production or for decorative purposes. Timber veneers can be produced by glueing multiple layers of veneer together or glueing veneer faces to a substrate like medium density fibreboard (or MDF) to produce veneers of varying thicknesses.

As timber veneers are sliced directly from treated wood logs, these natural wood veneers possess unique faces, showcasing all the organic intricacies of real wood grains. This makes timber veneers a more attractive alternative to laminate panels, which are usually produced to possess uniform faces.

what are timber veneers

How are timber veneers made?

Timber veneers are typically sliced using a rotary lathe or a slicing machine. The different cutting techniques and technologies used will also dictate what grain patterns appear on the face of completed timber veneers.

Depending on how the log is sliced, veneers are generally available in two different grain pattern options: quarter cut and crown cut. Quarter cut timber veneers are produced by slicing the wood log at right angles to its growth rings. This right angled cutting method produces a straight line or vertical grain pattern that’s likely to be more uniform than crown cut veneers.

So if quarter cuts are more uniform, what’s the appeal of crown cut veneers? Well, crown cuts are sliced parallel to wood growth rings, which produces a classic sloping wood grain pattern that’s known as both a crown cut or even a cathedral cut. It’s basically straight lines vs. arches, so selecting between quarter cut or crown cut veneers really depends on whatever aesthetics you prefer, or which wood pattern may be better suited to your particular project.

You can learn how timber veneers are made in more detail by reading through this step-by-step guide.

What is timber veneers used for?

Timber veneers can be used for a wide range of applications, from producing thicker plywood panels to providing an attractive natural wood grain to furniture and interior cladding made with substrates or wood composite materials. Here are just some of the more common applications of timber veneers today:

  • Providing natural wood grain appearance to floors, walls, and ceilings
  • Producing commercial furniture (i.e. flat pack furniture) that boasts organic wood patterns
  • Producing wall units, shelving, cabinetry, kitchen cupboards, etc.
  • For use in office fitouts or retail shopfitting

Simply put, timber veneers can be used in any setting where it may be more cost-effective or practical to use lightweight wood materials over solid wood. In fact, the main consideration that most builders and cabinet makers take when deciding between veneers and solid wood is whether timber veneers will be able to produce the same aesthetic finish with lighter weight and lower maintenance results when compared to solid timber products. As timber veneers are less prone to warping or splitting than solid wood and also require minimal treatment in comparison, products made with timber veneers are also generally considered to be suitable for a wider range of both indoor and outdoor applications than solid wood products.

different types of timber veneers
different types of backing for timber veneers

The different types of timber veneers

Timber veneers can be produced using both hardwood and softwood timbers. You can find wood veneer in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, from veneers as thin as 0.6mm veneers to thicker 1.5mm veneers.

At Cabinet Timbers, our timber veneers are available in 2400 x 1200, 2700 x 1200 and 3000 x 1200 sheets, however larger or even custom-cut sheets can be made to order.

Our timber veneers are available in a range of different types of native and non-native wood species, including but not limited to:

Different types of backing for timber veneers

Alongside being available in different wood types, timber veneers can also be produced with different backings. These are just some of the different types of backings for timber veneers available in Australia:

  • Raw wood veneers – these are veneers with no backing, and can thus be used with either side of the veneer facing outwards, or both sides exposed. Despite being made with one uniform ply of wood, it’s still common for raw wood veneers to possess superficial differences on its opposite faces due to the cell structure of the wood. Raw wood veneers made with multiple plies of wood are referred to as ‘laid up veneers’.
  • Plywood veneers – these veneers are produced by glueing plies of veneers together for a thicker and sag-resistant final result. Plywood veneers are considered to be very durable and are commonly used in construction.
  • MDF veneers – made with MDF, these veneers are generally regarded to be a more eco-friendly option as they’re produced with repurposed sawdust, reducing waste production at timber mills. Like plywood, MDF veneers are considered to be very durable; their construction makes them less likely to expand and contract due to variation in temperature or humidity.
  • Paper-backed veneers – as their name suggests, these veneers are backed on paper, making them less susceptible to cracking. Paper-backed veneers are also able to be cut to greater sizes, and can be used in a range of dynamic applications, including veneering curved surfaces like columns.
  • Phenolic-backed veneers – a less common type of backing that still provides many benefits (including water resistance), phenolic-backed veneers are flexible like paper-backed veneers, making them another suitable veneer type for application on curved surfaces.

How to choose the right timber veneers for your project

With all the information we’ve provided, you should have a stronger understanding of what timber veneers are, and how to pick the right timber veneers for your next woodworking or construction project.

To recap, however, when picking from our range of timber veneers, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions, like:

  • What will I be using these timber veneers for?
  • How thick will I need my timber veneers to be?
  • How flexible will I need my timber veneers to be?
  • Will I need my timber veneers to be waterproof or split-proof?
  • Will I be installing my timber veneers indoors or outdoors?
  • Will I need to paint my timber veneers?
  • Would I prefer a hardwood or softwood timber veneer?
  • Do I need my timber veneers to be uniform in appearance?

In answering these questions, you should be able to hone in on the right type of timber veneer for your unique project, whether you’re looking for veneers to produce lightweight wooden furniture, or you’re simply looking to install some veneers as wainscoting in your home or office space.

In answering these questions, you may even find that the most ideal material for your project isn’t even a timber veneer, but another popular alternative like a wood laminate or melamine panel. If that’s the case, then our experts here at Cabinet Timbers will undoubtedly be able to point you in the right direction and recommend the most suitable material from our catalogue for your next project.

Why use Cabinet Timbers as your trusted supplier of timber veneers?

Alongside our expansive collection of wood panel products, our team at Cabinet Timbers is also equipped with decades of experience providing and designing with plywood, timber veneers, and a range of other modern wood and composite materials. Our selection of projects showcases the diverse mix of design challenges that we’ve taken on to ensure that our clients can get the very most out of their timber veneers and all of our other materials on offer.

We’re also proud to maintain ethical processes here at Cabinet Timbers, ensuring that we only partner with wood manufacturers that source their timber from sustainably managed forests, and that all of our products are manufactured in accordance with EWPAA certification standards.

Have any more questions about what is timber veneers, how they’re made, or any of the other information provided in today’s blog? Then be sure to contact our friendly team here at Cabinet Timbers by phoning (03) 8353 2222 today, or by filling out our web enquiry form.

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