WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 106


Over time, I incorporated figured woods into my furniture pieces. It is critical to use figured woods judiciously in a furniture design. Although I have created display cabinets with a large proportion of figured woods, it is wise to limit the use of figured woods in your designs. The use of figured woods was expanded in my furniture pieces only after understanding the characteristics of veneered panels. A best practice is to limit the use of veneered figured wood panels, to either a frame and panel or the complete panel of a door.

It is highly advised to only use a single species of figured wood throughout. Otherwise, a distracting, visual clash will occur. Judicious use of figured woods in a furniture piece is recommended as a best practice. Too much of a good thing can destroy the intended aesthetic. In my work, application of figured woods created a new direction.

This is the most cost effective and efficient use of highly figured woods. Veneered panels using shop-sawn veneers are often indistinguishable from solid board variants of the same figured woods. Highly figured wood are very expensive although this depends on the amount and quality of the figure. The species of wood is also a criteria in determining the price of figured wood. Figured woods are not limited to domestic wood species. Figure is often found in exotic wood species. When out shopping for wood, I often peruse the figured wood section of a wood retailer to determine if a figured wood board appeals to me. If so, there is no hesitation in purchasing it. In all likelihood, it will likely be sold to another buyer before my next visit. Figured domestic and exotic woods are ideal to purchase and store since they have no expiry date and will never be obsolete!

Figured Big Leaf Maple veneered sheets used in a one-off cabinet build

I am often on the lookout at wood retailers for highly figured boards that could be resawn into thin veneers. The dimensional stability of using veneers and more specifically, highly figured ones, was very appealing. Although sawing and preparing thin veneers from thick boards is slow and time consuming, it is a cost-effective process. Often, the board is unique in characteristics and the greater yield allows more of the board to be used. Extracting the maximum number of veneer slices from a single board is also critical in avoiding discontinuity of wood graphics. The sequential veneer slices originating from a board are considered a flitch of veneers.