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The Art of Wood Veneer: A Guide to Types, Uses, and Applications

Timber Knowledge Tips & Guides
20 July 2023 min read

The Art of Wood Veneer: A Guide to Types, Uses, and Applications

In the world of woodworking, one of the most versatile and fascinating materials to work with is wood veneer. This thin slice of wood, often less than 3mm thick, creates various stunning effects in furniture, cabinetry, and other wood products. 

At Woodshop Direct, we deeply appreciate the art of wood veneer and are excited to share our knowledge with you. 

This comprehensive guide explores the different types of wood veneers, their uses, and applications, providing the information you need to make the most of this remarkable material.


What is Wood Veneer?

Before discussing the different kinds of wood veneer, it's important to know what it is. 

Basically, wood veneer is a thin piece of wood that's cut from a log. This thin piece is used to cover up less good-looking or lower-quality wood. This way, makers can create lovely, high-quality furniture and other items without spending as much money as they would if they used solid wood.


Types of Wood Veneer

Raw Wood Veneer

Raw wood veneer is the most natural form, cut directly from the log with no additional processing. This type of veneer is ideal for projects where a natural, rustic look is desired.


Paper-Backed Veneer

Paper-backed veneer is a type of veneer that has a layer of paper applied to the back. This provides extra strength and stability, making it easier to handle and less likely to split or crack. Moreover, it's perfect for applications where precision and durability are required.


Phenolic-Backed Veneer

Phenolic-backed veneer is similar to paper-backed veneer but has a layer of phenolic resin applied to the back. This makes it even more durable and moisture-resistant, making it ideal for use in areas where water or humidity may be a concern.


Laid-Up Veneer

Laid-up veneer is a type of veneer where several layers of veneer are glued together to create a thicker piece. This type of veneer is often used in high-end furniture and cabinetry, where a thicker, more substantial look is desired.


Uses of Wood Veneer

Wood veneer is used in various applications, from furniture and cabinetry to musical instruments and marquetry. Here are a few examples:



Wood veneer is commonly used in furniture production, allowing manufacturers to create beautiful, high-quality pieces at a fraction of the cost of solid wood. Further, the veneer can be applied to any surface, providing a consistent, attractive finish.



In cabinetry, wood veneer is often used to create a uniform, high-end look. The veneer can be applied to the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, providing a consistent, attractive finish.


Musical Instruments

Many musical instruments, such as guitars and pianos, use wood veneer to enhance their aesthetic appeal. Moreover, the veneer adds beauty and can affect the instrument's sound quality.



Marquetry is the art of creating intricate designs or pictures using different types and colours of wood veneer. This technique allows artisans to create stunning, detailed works of art.


Tips for Working with Wood Veneer

Working with wood veneer requires precision and patience. Here are a few tips to help you get the best results:

  1. Always use a sharp blade when cutting veneer to prevent tearing or splitting.

  2. Use a veneer press or vacuum bag to ensure a strong, even bond when glueing the veneer.

  3. Always sand the veneer lightly and toward the grain to avoid scratching or damaging the surface.


The Role of Wood Veneer in Sustainable Practices

Wood veneer isn’t just about aesthetics and cost savings. In the context of sustainability and eco-conscious woodworking, it plays a significant role. 

Given the thinness of the veneer, more surface area can be covered with less wood. This efficiency translates into fewer trees being harvested for woodworking projects. And in an era where deforestation is a pressing concern, every step towards conservation is crucial. 

So, while enjoying the beauty and versatility of veneer, you're also contributing to a more sustainable future.


Delving Deeper into Marquetry and Parquetry

Earlier, we touched upon marquetry, a decorative technique involving veneer. Its sibling, parquetry, deserves mention too. 

Where marquetry focuses on pictorial designs, parquetry is all about geometric patterns. Historically, these techniques have been used, gracing the surfaces of luxurious palaces and artefacts.

Today, these arts continue to bring unique character to furniture, flooring, and artistic pieces. 


Veneer in Restoration and Refurbishment

Another veneer application that deserves attention is the restoration and refurbishment of antique or damaged furniture. 

Often, vintage pieces might have surface damage that mars their beauty. Re-veneering such surfaces can revive the item, allowing it to retain its vintage charm while looking refreshed and presentable. 

Similarly, re-veneering can be a cost-effective alternative to buying new if you have a piece of furniture that’s structurally sound but stylistically outdated.


Exploring Exotic Veneers

The types of wood veneer extend beyond the traditional oak, walnut, or maple. Exotic veneers, derived from lesser-known or rare wood species, offer a whole new realm of aesthetic possibilities. 

Whether it's the striated grain of zebrawood or the rich darkness of ebony, these veneers can create striking visual interest. 

However, remember that rarity often comes with increased cost and potential sustainability concerns. Therefore, always source exotic veneers from responsible suppliers who adhere to sustainable harvesting practices.


Joinery and Veneer: A Perfect Pairing

In joinery, veneers have a vital role to play. Moreover, veneers allow you to hide joins or create seamless patterns across different sections of a piece. This capability becomes particularly useful in complex joinery tasks where multiple pieces of wood come together at different angles.


Unleashing Creativity: Veneer Mix-and-Match

Lastly, let's explore an exciting, creative aspect of working with veneers: the mix-and-match approach. 

Who says a piece has to feature one type of veneer? Mixing different veneers allows you to create unique, contrasting patterns and designs. Imagine a chest of drawers with each drawer front in a different veneer or a tabletop featuring a sunburst pattern of contrasting wood grains. 

As you can see, the possibilities with wood veneer are endless!


Quality Wood Veneer at Woodshop Direct

As you continue your journey with wood veneer, remember that practice and patience are your best friends. The intricate work with veneers may seem daunting initially, but the results you can achieve make it well worth the effort.

Ultimately, the art of wood veneer is a fascinating aspect of woodworking, offering a world of possibilities for creating beautiful, high-quality pieces. 

At Woodshop Direct, we're passionate about all things wood and are here to help you with all your woodworking needs. Whether you're looking for high-quality wood veneer, expert advice, or a wide range of other woodworking products, we've got you covered. Reach out to us today to discover how we can help you bring your woodworking projects to life.