|Veneers, their descriptions and uses in marquetry by Roy Murton|
We start this page with a wonderfully aromatic wood which is Sandalwood and progress onto the Sycamore family (which is one of the Marquetarian's most useful veneers - it is often used as a "waster" veneer). Again, as is usual, we include a sprinkling of exotic and rare veneers for your reference. Don't forget to add any examples of those exotics that you find to your veneer bank - even if you haven't got a use for them straight away, you will always appreciate them later on when you are looking for that "special" piece for your latest masterpiece!
Okay, it's time to start this latest dozen, so lets begin with number 145 Sandalwood:
145/. SANDALWOOD: Santalum Album. India. This is one of those rare veneers that are now strictly controlled and may be difficult to locate. It is a pleasant chocolate brown colour with a strong moiré type of grain pattern. It has in the past been used for temple carvings and apparently still retains its pleasing aroma even after the passage of many hundreds of years. There are variations of Sandalwood available coming from Hawaii and Australia. This wood could be used to great effect in Tunbridge Ware, imparting a wonderful strong brown tone to your design.
146/. SASSAFRAS: Sassafras albidum (also Atherosperma Moschattum). North America and East Asia. It is reputed to generally be a yellow to lightish brown coloured veneer - although our sample is somewhat darker than that. The grain pattern is fairly broad and it is reasonably easy to work with, i.e.; it cuts easily. I believe that they used to make some sort of beer from the roots of this tree in the wild west days of America - was this the source of the infamous "root beer"?
147/. SATINWOOD: Chloroxylon Swietenia. Ceylon. It is also known as citronnier, satinato. Yellow to gold in colouring with an interlocked grain and is often available with a very close striped figure and certain stocks possess a beautiful ‘bees wing’ mottled figure. It is fine textured, though hard veneer, and brittle to cut. It comes in narrow widths of only up to 3 inches to 6 inches (7.5cms to 15cms) and is quite expensive. Depending upon the type of figure, it is suitable for depicting cornfields, thatched roofs, sandy beaches and floral subjects. The more figured types are ideal for costume and drapery and it also sand shades very well. Traditionally this is the veneer from the “golden age of satinwood” used in fine furniture for borders, cross bandings, four piece matches, etc, and is still very popular for applied marquetry for this reason.
148/. SATINWOOD (II): The information for this veneer is the same as above, but I am including this other example in our data base because, when you look at the two examples in our veneer gallery, you will notice from the "pattern" of the grain formation of both of our examples that they significantly different - this is, as mentioned in the description number 147 above, i.e.; "depending upon the type of figure".
149/. SEN: Acanthopanax ricinifolious. Japan. Also known as Japanese Ash. Straw coloured with mid brown lines reminiscent of those very distinctive patterns found in the well known Zebrano family of veneers. It is very similar in overall appearance to normal ash veneer, although its grain pattern is much more pronounced.
150/. SIPO: Entandophragma Spp. West Africa. This veneer is also known as Utile. It is red to dark red with an interlocked grain with a weak stripe and fine texture. It is soft and easy to cut and in plentiful supply in widths up to 12 inches (30cms) and very cheap (that was in 1950!). It could be mistaken by the layman for sapele, although utile is a darker red. It is mostly used as a compensating backing veneer also for edging borders, cross banding, etc. However, it is also most useful for roofs, foregrounds, reflections, shadows, wooden objects, walls, doors, fences, planks, chimneys, pots, etc.
151/. SUMACH: Rhus typhina. Canada and North America. It can also be spelt as Sumac. An interesting orange/green colour in its body and grain pattern that can appear almost bleached in places. Some species of the sumach family includes the infamous poison ivy, but these are luckily not the ones we use for marquetry (at least, I hope they are not!!). The veneer could be used to depict an interesting evening sky effect.
152/. SUCUPIRA: Bowdichia Brasiiensis. Virgilioides. Diplotropis Martiusii. America - notably, Brazil, Venezuela, etc. A deep brown veneer with a strong and distinct almost black ray like pattern. You may find lightish "dots" on this veneer (as can be seen in our gallery example). It is a difficult veneer to cut and it can quickly remove the sharp edge of your cutting blade, so, have plenty of wax to hand to lubricate your blade when working with this veneer - and be prepared for plenty of re-sharpening!
153/. SYCAMORE: Acer Pseudoplatanus. Europe. A creamy white coloured veneer. It is a wonderful veneer with superb lace and fiddleback variations. The following two veneers are examples of those variations. This veneer is often used as a waster veneer and takes sand scorching and dying very well. It is generally the basis of those chemically coloured veneers known as Harewood veneers.
154/. SYCAMORE LACE: Acer Pseudoplatanus. Europe. A creamy white coloured veneer with a "lace curtain" effect. Can be used successfully for depicting lightly cobbled streets and pebble dashed brick work.
155/. SYCAMORE FIDDLEBACK: Acer Pseudoplatanus. Europe. This version of Sycamore has a pronounced wavy effect that is often seen on the reverse of violins and other such instruments - hence the name fiddleback. The effect is very obvious as you will note from the example in our veneer gallery.
156/. SYCAMORE WEATHERED: Acer Pseudoplatanus. Europe. A rather darker and more golden version of standard Sycamore. It's all due to the weathering process - somewhat obviously, I would suppose!
family of veneers, the Sycamore, is one of the most useful and versatile
veneers for the Marquetarian. It can be treated and dyed with almost
guaranteed success - and is one of those veneers that take sand
scorching in their stride.
Our next twelve veneers will start with number 157 which will be another of the Sycamore family, this will be Sycamore Light Stainy.
So, until then, as always, please enjoy your marquetry.
Best Wishes, Roy.