1. steinway inlaidI employed a very crass Brit for a short period of time. He was well known in the antique part of town for hand rubbed french polished finishes. One day he was telling me of his experience working in an antique store. This lady comes in and remarks proudly “ALL of my furniture is SOLID WOOD”.

“I’m terr’bly sorry to ‘ear that, Madam” he replies in a cockney accent.
“Well why is that?” she asks – offended.
“Everyone knows that the real antiques are all veneered. Solid wood is all shite”. After she storms off, he gets this big grin on his face and laughs to himself. I started to realize why he didn’t last that long in the antique world.

Inexperienced at the time, I probed “Well why is that? Why is solid wood considered inferior?”
Slightly put off he replies “All great antiques have been veneered for decades… even centuries. The magnificent looking woods you find on the outsideBroadwoods of all antiques come from either knotty woods or from the trunk of a tree… things you would never construct a desk or a table out of. So you build the structure and THEN you veneer it, to make it look good.  Veneers are thin pieces of wood cut to the thickness of cardboard. And besides…” he takes a moment to wipe the sweat off his brow as he runs figure 8’s from his french polishing pad, “solid wood warps. When you take a substrate, the core of the wood and glue another piece to it, it tends not to warp. Great furniture and pianos have all been veneered. In the 1800’s it was an art form.”

That was the start to my education… an education of finishing, sanding and staining – one that you don’t go to school for, one that comes from experience in handling the wood of a piano. Despite your thoughts regarding the intricate details of veneers inlaid into the piano, one this is for sure, you MUST appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into such a project. BTW… i’ve only stumbled upon 2 pianos in my life that were actually solid wood.  So next time someone says that they have a “solid wood” piano… chances are, it’s veneered. Pictured below is a Schulze Pollmann Italian piano.  They’ve made the veneers fan out from the centre – an absolutely stunning piece they call “The Peacock”.  Enjoy!