Walnut veneers are wood products made from thin sheets of walnut wood. These thin sheets of wood are typically used to cover other, less expensive materials. In some cases the term “walnut veneer” may be used in reference to a synthetic material designed to mimic the appearance of walnut but not actually made of walnut.
The wood of the walnut tree is rich, dark, and beautiful. It is also, however, very uncommon and thus, quite expensive. Walnut veneers are used to allow a small amount of lumber to cover a much larger surface than would be possible if solid pieces of wood were used. The veneer-covered materials can then be stained, oiled, or varnished.
All veneers are made by trimming very thin sheets of wood from a log. These sheets, which are only slightly thicker than a rigid piece of cardstock, are used to cover over other products, usually products made of cheaper wood or other fillers. Several pieces of veneer must be placed and aligned together to cover larger surfaces. When this is done, the wood grain of the walnut veneer is usually aligned in such a fashion as to create the appearance of a single piece of wood. These veneer sheets are always somewhat vulnerable to physical damage because of their very modest thickness.
The most common uses for walnut veneers are in furniture construction and for paneling. Larger pieces of furniture, such as wardrobes or dressers, can be covered with walnut veneers. This lends the luster of walnut to the entire project, but requires a fraction of the wood that would be needed to construct furniture entirely out of walnut boards. Wooden paneling is typically used to cover large sections of a room, and the use of walnut boards for such purposes would typically be prohibitively expensive. Walnut veneers, however, because they use so much less wood, are more affordable.
In addition to the natural walnut veneers made from real wood, there are synthetic products made to resemble walnut wood. These synthetics typically contain a core of plywood or particle board. This core is then covered with a thin layer of plastic, on which an image of the grain in real walnut has been printed.
The quality of such copied grains is highly variable. The best examples do resemble true walnut veneers, at least from a modest distance. The less successful examples of artificial walnut are obviously not made of real wood.