Going with the Grain

After a few false starts, a manufacturer finds a way to make veneer from reclaimed wood.

For about two years now, the San Francisco Bay Area manufacturer B+N Industries has been offering a line of so-called Iconic Panels—durable sheets of laminate on a wood core, CNC-milled in a variety of decorative patterns. The 14 motifs draw on inspirations as diverse as the Case Study Houses, the work of the graphic designer Saul Bass, British Invasion–era paisley, and the typeface Hel­vet­ica.

Last year, B+N decided to introduce a reclaimed-wood version of the panels, a sustainability-minded move that proved unexpectedly demanding. Using lumber salvaged from olive-barrel staves, razed gym bleachers, and blighted buildings made for a good story. But the old, odd-shaped pieces of timber were heavier and more brittle than fresh wood, and therefore extremely difficult to slice into the wafer-thin strips necessary for making veneer. Ultimately, it took the help of three other companies and a year of trial and error to bring the prod­uct to market. Now, the reclaimed-wood Iconic Panels are available in three versions: western red­wood, Douglas fir, and Asian teak. And they seem to have been worth the extra effort, says Kevin McPhee, B+N’s marketing and creative director. “Because a lot of these original woods were felled from older-growth trees, they have a really beautiful, deep, straight grain.”

The veneer and substrate are FSC certified, and B+N uses low-VOC varnishes and water-based glues that don’t contain formaldehyde. The panels can be sawn, nailed, glued, and outfitted with shelving hardware.

The easy-to-install panels are ideal for retail settings, hotel interiors, and temporary installations such as trade-show exhibitions.

A reclaimed-wood veneer glued to an MDF substrate

B+N Industries
(800) 350-4127

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