Johnson Furniture | Materials & Techniques

As a cabinet maker I work with solid timber, and with veneer. If you are interested in seeing the range of timbers available, and would like some inspiration, then the company where I purchase my veneer from (Capital Crispin Veneer) have an excellent website where it is possible to browse a Veneer Index and see pictures and descriptions of the various timbers.

Veneers on display at Capital Crispin Veneer, with some examples to the right. For a full list see the Veneer Index.

In many peoples minds veneer has developed a bad reputation in recent years, with mass produced furniture often finished with low quality veneers of little interest. Their use is more aimed at tricking the observer into thinking solid wood has been used, rather than producing a more beautiful piece of furniture.

When a cabinet maker works with veneer the result is some of the finest furniture. Effects are produced which are not possible when using only solid timber. For example having more than one line of symmetry in a quarter matched panel, or having the same grain pattern repeat across many aspects of a piece. Indeed many timbers are not available in solid form, this can be due to rarity, where it would be a waste to produce a few solid planks rather than many veneers from a special tree, or structural reasons such as in a burr, where the grain is so wild and non-uniform that a solid piece would have little structural integrity.

Some examples of veneer matching techniques. The image on the left is a quarter matched panel with two lines of symmetry. The image on the right is a starburst pattern made from 12 pieces of veneer, this has 6 lines of symmetry.

Modern glues and vacuum pressing techniques, along with high quality substrates which are both strong and dimensionally stable mean that the days of a veneer peeling from the surface of a piece are long gone. However I am always careful when working with veneer not to leave edges and corners vulnerable to chipping, as such most of my furniture will involve a combination of solid timber and veneer, but of course things will always be done in accordance with the clients preferences.

I purchase most of my solid timber from Morgan Timber. They have been supplying timber for over 100 years and have a fully audited supply chain ensuring environmentally certified timber.

I also work with metal, either as a structural aspect of a piece in order to lend strength to a delicate design, or for a contrast to the timber used.

For furniture requiring mirrors or glass I work with a company in Greenwich, Glass Designs, who can supply mirrors or glass cut to any size or shape and with a number of different effects, such as antique mirror or frosted and tinted glass.