Thin Veneer: Crazy Hardwood Finish for Plywood Furniture

What better way to finish off a piece of furniture than with a beautiful hard oak, walnut, cherry, cedar, dark maple, light birch or soft mahogany veneer? How about mixing and matching a series of hardwoods over the plywood parts instead – after all, the outside is what people see, touch (and bang or bump) anyway?

Though veneers cost less they sometimes get a bad reputation as cheap surface panel alternatives to building with real, solid softwoods and hardwoods. Rohol is a company aimed at changing that stereotype with what they (somewhat paradoxically) term “mass customization” – woodworking that can be mass-produced (with pricing to match) but that has the look and feel of something less cheap, more artistic and unique.

This new series of veneer panels takes the best features of the constituent lumber and makes wonderful works of wood art out of it, combining the best strengths of natural hardwood panels in creative ways. While they are shown in these examples as thin finish surfaces for cabinet furniture, they would be beautiful around a fireplace or used as siding or wall material for other furniture and interior projects.

Some of these combinations are unlikely: contrasting colorful rosewood and classic pine, cheap bamboo and super-strong teak. Whether the sheets come with stripes, boxes or other patterns, gluing these to an underlying board saves on cost but is still much cooler than many standard finishes.

Other strategies are obvious when you see them: cross-cutting the panels an unusual woodworking approach for boards due to strength issues, but just fine for veneer sheets so long as they are small enough to avoid issues of moistures expansion and contraction along the surface area to which they are applied.

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