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Letter: Veneer Backing Boards

Letter: Veneer Backing Boards

by Lloyd Zsiros

Originally published in American Lutherie #30, 1992



The wood supplier I deal with for almost all of my materials (A&M Wood Specialty in Cambridge, Ontario — a frequent advertiser in American Lutherie) sometimes gets in quantities of backing boards. These boards are a byproduct of the veneer industry. As most of us know the veneer industry manages to get hold of some of the finest and most desirable logs of various species. These logs are then cut into manageable sizes, if necessary, and clamped into a massive carriage assembly which then moves the log past a stationary knife, neatly slicing off uniform thicknesses of veneer. The carriage assembly used large steel teeth to grab the log and the knife can only cut so close to these. What’s left is a piece of wood usually anywhere from about 1/2" to over 1 1/4" known as a backing board. Many of these are perfectly quartered and quite wide. They can often be purchased directly from the veneer mill or from suppliers like A&M at extremely attractive prices. I have obtained walnut, cherry, and beech this way at a fraction of the usual cost. The boards are often just thrown outdoors usually in the open so they may not be very attractive on the surface but I have obtained some of the nicest walnut I’ve ever seen from these. I’ve noticed some favorable comments in American Lutherie about cherry as an instrument wood. This is a good source for nice wide quartered cherry. Although I’ve never used this on a guitar I do have some 1' long, 20" wide, 1 1/4" thick quartered cherry I obtained a few years ago for $2 a square foot I’ve been saving for something special. It could be worth a try! Oh, and a word on A&M Woods. As they are an advertiser in American Lutherie, you may be interested in knowing I have had nothing but great service from them. They have been my primary source of materials for over 10 years and I can’t say enough good things about Andy and his staff at A&M.