Veneer, a thin sheet of wood or other material used to give an exterior finish to articles of cabinet or other work, the body of which is of cheaper material. The art of veneering is not modern; according to Pliny it was introduced about his time. Veneers were formerly cut with thin hand and pit saws, from blocks of wood. In 1806 Mr. Brunei patented a method of splitting them from straight-grained wood, but curved and knotted wood required to be sawed. Circular saws replaced the old straight saws. Veneer is now 6awed by very thin reciprocating gang saws, which work with so much precision as to saw very wide strips as thin as cardboard. The work is done in establishments usually connected with saw mills. The cabinetmaker in applying the veneer roughens one surface, that the glue may hold it firmly to the body of the work. The outer surface of the veneer is afterward dressed with planes and scrapers, and polished with sandpaper and brushes or pumice. - Veneers of ivory and of bone are used for some purposes; and in Paris a pianoforte has been entirely covered with a single sheet of ivory cut in a spiral from an elephant's tusk. The manufacturer advertised to supply such sheets 150 in. long and 30 in. wide.
In the United States department of the great exhibition of 1851 there was a veneer of this kind 40 ft. long and 12 in. wide. - The inlaying of thin strips of wood or veneers in wood of other colors has been treated in the article Buhl "Work. - A remarkable variety of veneering has been introduced into the United States, called "pressed work." Any number of veneers are laid together, the grain of each one at right angles to that of the adjacent layers, and all after being well saturated with glue are strongly compressed until the whole is united in one mass. For curved work the pressure is applied upon the mass placed while hot in moulds. By this method the backs of chairs are made in graceful curves and of great strength, the crossing of the grain preventing all danger of splitting. Strong plain wood, as black walnut, may be used for the inner layers, while the outer may be of rosewood or other highly ornamental wood. The tops of tables thus made are not liable to warp, and the method has been successfully applied to the construction of tables for sewing machines.
Dished or spheroidal pressed work may be made in any desired curves by cutting the veneers into strips of varying width according to the part of the mould into which they are to be pressed. - Ornamental surface in relief has been given to veneers by pressing them between two moulds or dies, and filling the concavities on the hollow side with mastic or some plastic substance. Before pressing them, the surface to be in relief is smoothed and polished, and paper is pasted over the other. The dampness of the paste favors the adjustment of the wood to the irregularities of the die, from which the veneer is not removed until all moisture has disappeared.