& Terms

Beauty of


Banding: A decorated strip, let in to panel work. Ranges from a plain contrasting veneer with an edging line each side to a highly decorated strip containing many types of veneer.

Blister: A bubble of air trapped beneath veneer when gluing down - when tapped gently there is a hollow sound. To remove, pierce to allow air to escape, and either insert more glue and press, or warm to reactivate existing adhesive.

Burl: North American term for burr.

Burnishing: Bring a polished surface to high gloss by finishing off with any of several methods.

Burr: Veneer cut from a root bowl, characterised by patterns of tight circles in the veneer. Considered to be more prestigious, and trickier to work.

Butt: Intermediate between burr and straight grained veneer. Has some burring circles, but is characterised by a wild freakish pattern.

Casting: Twisting of wood.

Constructional Veneer: Veneer which is normally laminated to form plywood. Of variable thickness, but always thicker than decorative veneer.

Crown Cut: Veneer sliced across the log, and containing straight and curved grain.

Caul: Device to press veneer down during gluing. If the groundwork is shaped, the caul will be of the same profile, to ensure an even pressure all over the job.

Chamfer: A sloping edge on a piece of wood.

Curl: Veneer sliced from a junction between truck and branch. Pattern has central ‘spine’ with the grain running down away from it on both sides. Favoured for drawer and cupboard fronts.

Donkey: A machine used to fretsaw out designs; much used in the manufacture of motifs.

Fiddleback: Pattern in veneer produced when slicing through a wavy grain in the solid timber. The name comes from the patterned veneer found on the backs of violins.

Figure: Term used to describe the pattern of a veneer.

Fillet: A contrasting strip of veneer, usually let in between a marquetry picture and its border veneer.

Flitch: As the veneer is sliced, the leaves are packed together in multiples of four, for matching. A flitch is a number of these fours, often 32 or 64.

French Polish: Protective and decorative finish containing shellac. Fortified french polishes are more resilient, and contain cellulose.

Fretsaw: A fine (about 1/32") saw used to cut veneer into decorative shapes. The cutting part of a donkey is a fretsaw blade.

Glueline: Is the thickness of adhesive that holds the veneer to the groundwork when the veneer has been glued down. Modern adhesives result in a much thinner glue than traditional scotch glue.

Grain: The direction in which the wood fibres lie. Very directional in normal veneers, variable in burrs.

Groundwork: The base on which a decorative veneer is glued.

Hammer (Veneer): Brass edged tool which is used to press veneer down while it is being laid. The hammer used to smooth the glue out under the veneer.

Harewood: Veneer which has been chemically aged, colour grey, the depth of grey depending on the process time.

Inlay: A decorative device, geometric or pictorial, set into a solid panel.

Kerf: The waste produced when a saw blade cuts through a pad of veneer.

Keying: ‘Roughening’ of the surface to give the glue greater surface area to grip.

Match: Using consecutive leaves to make ‘mirror image’ usually two or four piece match, can be more.

Mitre: Joint between two veneers, often in borders of marquetry pictures at 45° .

Motif: Decorated piece of marquetry let into panel drawer fronts, table tops and so on. Often a small picture such as a vase of flowers.

Pad: The pack of veneers made up prior to fretsawing to 20 or more leaves thick, containing the different veneers that will interleave with each other when cut to shape. The pad has the design glued on the top and a waste veneer on the bottom to prevent any breaking up of the bottom layer.

P.V.A.: Polyvinylacetate, a ubiquitous adhesive in the woodworking world. White, water based, glue that dries to transparent finish.

Quartercut: Veneer sliced from the radius of 1 log generally straight and evenly grained.

Rubber: Pad, made from linen around a ball of wadding used to apply french polish.

Sealer: Essentially a weak solution of polish applied before sanding which blocks the pores in wood, to prevent cross contamination from dust, and also acts as a primer before the polish proper is applied.

Shellac: The base of french polish which, when built up in a thickness, acquires a deep lustre. Colour depends on the type used.

Scratch stock: A home-made device for marking cutting lines for inlay bandings and stringings.

Size: Dilute solution of glue, used to prime surfaces prior to the application of glue proper.

Stringing: Plain white or black lines let into panel work to enhance the appearance.

Tape: Veneer tape, gummed paper used to hold veneer together prior to gluing down.

Veneer: A thin slice of wood.

Warp: A twist in timber along the grain.

Window Method: Cutting Marquetry using the hole (window) left by removing each piece of the design in turn as a template for the replacement veneer.

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