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Veneers, their descriptions and uses in marquetry by Roy Murton

Page 16 of our veneers descriptions bring us on to numbers 181 - 192 which includes several burr veneers.
Burr (or Burl in the USA) veneers are often some of the most attractive veneers we have at our disposal. Burrs are often used for adorning the dash boards and door caps of many of the world's most expensive and luxurious motor cars.
In the main, burr veneers are easy to cut, although some may require papering first to prevent them snapping and breaking into tiny fragments.
Many burrs also require flattening with special mixtures and presses before they can be worked on properly. There is a button lower down on this page that will take you to an article by Alf Murtell that demonstrates how to make the special mixture and prepare your burr veneer ready for use in your marquetry picture. Just look for the "Burr Flattening" button.

Okay then, we will now begin our next dozen veneers with number 181 - Yew:

181/. YEW: Taxus baccata. Britain, Asia Minor, North Africa and Europe. Its colour can vary from yellow going through biscuit to pink and has a streaky figure with wild red streaks. It is a smooth textured hard and brittle veneer quite plentiful at the moment (1950’s) with widths up to about 12 inches (30cms) and costly in price. It is difficult to tie down Yew tree to a specific marquetry effect since it is wild and freak veneer, but it has a great many possibilities. It has been used for sky effects, wooden subjects, costume and drapery, walls, doors, and even for water effects. The type of veneer which professional’s carve for is full of knots and holes, in-growing bark, and in this form makes excellent wall panelling. The marquetarians have to find pieces in the leaf that are ideal for their purpose and unless they have an outlet for the rest of the leaf it can prove to be a costly veneer to acquire.

182/. ZEBRANO: Microbeilinia Brazzavillensis. West Africa. This is an easily recognised veneer. The distinctive and unique Zebrano veneer needs to be used with care in a picture because its very patterning makes it easily identifiable. It can be used for close-boarded fencing or the gabled-boarded houses so commonly seen in Essex, or for old windmills, or really wherever a wooden boarded effect is needed. It is also an effective veneer for cross banding, and for various types of parquetry cutting.

183/. ZEBRANO CROWN CUT: Microbeilinia Brazzavillensis. West Africa. The Crown cut Zebrano is taken as a flat slice across the lower and upper sections of the prepared log avoiding the heart wood (which is called the quarter cut after the removal of the heart wood middle section). The Crown cut has the usual Zebrano pattern, but this time it displays a very wide version of the standard pattern, but it is not as distinct. Just check in our veneer gallery to see the difference.

184/. ZEBRANO ROTARY CUT: Microbeilinia Brazzavillensis. West Africa. Rotary cut Zebrano originates from slicing a long continuous strip from the pre-soaked log on a lathe in a similar way to a swiss roll being unwound. This method gives a very similar appearance to the crown cut version, although the characteristic stripes may be even further apart.

185/. ZEBRANO ROSE: Berlinia auriculata. Nigeria. It is also known as Zebramona or berlinia. This is a pink to brown colour with an irregular grain and pronounced red stripe markings. This medium textured wood is rather brittle to cut and hard, scarce, and comes in widths up to about 10 inches (25cms). It is a moderately priced wood and is mostly useful for costume and drapery subjects, and to depict fencing, planks, striped awnings in Mediterranean scenes and may be used in conjunction with zebrano depicting shadows.

186/. ACACIA BURR: Acacia Spp. Europe. This burr veneer is orange / tan in colouring with a busy mottled pattern effect. It could be used very well to depict a sandy beach.

187/. ASH BURR: Fraxinus Excelsior. European. As is often done with most burr veneers, ash burr is often used to represent foliage. It has been used effectively to depict spring blossoms, the lanterns on summer horse chestnuts, and even to represent snow in a winter’s landscape. It has also been used to depict distant glaciers. Unfortunately ash burr doesn’t cover the entire veneer leaf from corner to corner, it occurs in patches, and you can find adjacent to it, parts of the leaf resembling figured ash.

188/. CHERRY BURR: Prunus-Avium, Cerasus & Padus. Gt Britain. This veneer has a reddish brown colouring. It has an interesting lacy effect. Could be used successfully for depicting stone built walls.

189/. CYPRESS GREEN BURR: Liriodendron Tulipefera. America. This veneer comes from the Tulip tree which, in turn, originates from the Magnolia family. This burr veneer is now very rare and is almost impossible to acquire, no one seems to stock it anymore. The veneer has a grey / green colour that gradually turns brown over time with exposure to sunlight. It would be very good for foliage effects whilst it's in its green state.

190/. ELM BURR: Ulmus Procera. England. The burr of the elm, it is inclined to be coarse, and there may be bark ingrowths leaving tiny holes in the veneer. If you make careful selection of your piece of veneer you will find it very useful for trees and bushes. It can have a mixture of colours in the same piece of veneer.

191/. EUCALYPTUS BURR: Eucalyptus Regnans. Australia. A pleasant orange to tan colouring. This veneer has a regular "large burr" patterning. Could be used to good effect for shadows in portraiture work.

192/. LACEWOOD BURR: Platanus Acerifolia. Europe. The burr of the London Planetree. Depending on how fine the grain is (the plainest part of the veneer leaf is best for this) it can be used for flesh tones. There is a crucifixion picture where this is used to depict the characters with great effect. The burr part is, of course, ideal for foliage, mostly for small shrubs and bushes rather than trees. It is excellent for portraying gravel paths, stonework, rock formations and distant cliffs, etc. It has been used successfully to depict hair, sandy banks, and the skin of animals, although most successful in the foreground of pictures, as stonework, roadways, paths, etc.

Well there we have the first seven of our burr, or burl, veneers for you to read about.
The pictures of each of these burr veneer samples will be found in our veneer gallery. Don't forget that every one of these veneers were scanned in to our data base on a very high quality colour accurate scanner and are as near, visually, to the actual veneer as it is possible to make them.
Burrs have unique characteristics that, when used judicially, can really enhance a marquetry picture in a rather magical way. The somewhat random patterning is very pleasing to the eye.

Our next selection of veneers will carry on with this burr theme and will begin with veneer number 193 which will be Madrona Burr.

So as always, until our next set of veneer descriptions, please enjoy your marquetry.

Best Wishes, Roy.

Veneer Gallery 1 | Gallery 2 | Gallery 3 | Gallery 4 | Gallery 5 | Gallery 6 | Gallery 7 | Gallery 8

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