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Commercial Use? Not a problem…

Happy new year everyone! Factory Floor updates back in full swing later this week so until then, here’s a story…

During the Christmas break I snapped these pics (with approval of course:) of 2 huge KT dining tables we made 3 years ago for Spargo’s Cafe at Marion. This situation called for the use of natural timber veneers over solid timber for a few reasons…

• It gave the owners a large choice.

• Very cost effective and stable alternative to solid.

• The impact resistance is far higher in our veneer boards than most solid hardwoods.

• Weight -solid tables this size, in this species would go 300+kg. Too heavy to move.

• The commercial grade 2 pack polyurethane lacquer is the only protection for this environment.

The tables looked in excellent condition considering their extremely high use, the lacquer is holding up very well after being wiped down no less than 5-10 times a day for 3 solid years. It seems the constant buffing has increased the gloss levels from 30% satin to more 60% gloss and there could be a silicone build up adding to the gloss. The tables are in great shape, minimal dings and scratches and are no doubt the most popular tables in the restaurant. If you’re at Marion, check out these tables at Spargo’s and see how our furniture can withstand very heavy use with ease!

Matt Mabarrack

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Solid Timber Vs Timber Veneers…


Lately at the retailers, I’v seen some pretty bad furniture for silly high prices. Which one is better for me? is probably the most common question generated by this subject (relating mainly to dining tables)  I’ll list the pros and cons of both solid and veneer along with some general information and YOU can decide which better suits your budget, decor and lifestyle… Here we go!


Our solid timber dining tables are only made with select premium, kiln dried hardwoods with 150mm wide boards and a thickness of 35 to 50mm. 90mm wide boards are cheaper but we don’t do cheap, we leave that to the retailers of imported items. Tables with 90mm wide boards (or less) are cheap,they  can look like a box of matches and display no grain character. Narrow boards used in mass produced furniture keep costs down but brining in solid timber furniture from an over seas factory in the tropics to the hot, dry climate of South Australia is looking for trouble. For climatic reasons alone, solid timber furniture being used in SA really should be made in SA. Hence you’ll find many tables coming in from China wont be available from you local fast food furniture store in SA because the failure and return rates are way too high. The only remedy available to them is to simply pull the item from sale in SA.

Our solid tables have roughly 8 boards to a 1200mm wide table. When your are out and about looking at solid timber dining tables, count the boards and ask where the timber is sourced. Some retailers (one in particular) are issuing warnings that solid Tasmanian Oak can come with natural “splits and cracks” we have never heard such garbage in all our years, this is simply a way for a retailer to sell poorly made furniture made overseas from cheap Aussie timbers and hide the dodgy workmanship and materials behind a clear and defamatory lie… they are lying right to your face!

Anyway, back to our tables… We craft solid timber tables to last centuries, it’s that simple. In order to do that we can only use the highest quality timbers, lacquers and skills while keeping the designs current yet timeless. 99% of the solid timber tables we sell are sold off the showroom floor as customers can see what they are getting. With solid timber, you don’t have the luxury of choosing the exact timbers like with veneers (more on that later, keep reading)

4 main reasons for choosing solid timber over timber veneers: (referring to premium quality solid timber furniture made by us, not mass produced imports)

• Heritage piece (to last 200-300 years)

• House interior/exterior is of a traditional nature and we’re keeping theme.

• If you want an heirloom piece to pass down through the family for the next 5 generations.

• Natural variation of timber.

Negatives of Solid Timber: – referring to premium quality solid timbers by us (not mass produced imports)

• Matching furniture can be a challenge i.e. solid table needs a solid buffet, buffet now has big design restrictions and increased price.

• Subject to slight natural movement (3% to 5% max 10% of tangental movement which we compensate for in the design)

• Cost can easily double that of timber veneers.

• Most of the time is softer than veneers (impact resistance)

• You can’t see your new table until it’s made.

• Weight can be strenuous for manufacture, delivery and moving around the house (if req)

• Solid timber tables made in the tropics generally consist of unseasoned timbers and poor quality lacquers so splitting and cracking in hot, dry SA conditions is mostly unavoidable.

• Unskilled hands using mediocre materials can’t make fine solid timber furniture, its just not possible (read the very first sentence on   this page)



Right so there’s a bit of handy info on solid timber, now lets discover timber veneers! Being used over 2k years ago by the Egyptians, timber veneers are far from a new thing, they have been used extensively throughout history and feature on some of the most expensive antique furniture pieces on earth. Natural timber veneers are sliced thin, the leaves are bonded to a sub-straight of MDF using PVA glue. Decades ago, the sub-straight was very porous “chip board” and animal glues were used to adhere the leaves to the board. Those day are gone, now we have premium sub-straights with MDF having an impact resistance similar to solid Jarrah. Your Aus Oak veneer table will be much harder than your solid Aus Oak table. We constantly travel Australia in search of new veneers which we have laid up interstate on 18mm MDF and thicker board for specially designed pieces.

The benefits of veneers over solid are many, here’s a list…

• Select the exact board for your table, even before you place a deposit. No disappointment upon delivery!

• Easy to match existing pieces or flooring as you can see the grain character and colours.

• Cost effective, generally half the cost of a solid timber table.

• Modern interior needs modern furniture, modern design craves the stability and functionality of timber veneers.

• Harder than just about all solid hardwood species in terms of impact resistance.

• Veneers are real timber and can be sanded and stained. IT’S NOT A PLASTIC LAMINAT

• Some log cuts that reveal stunning and unique grain characters are only available to natural veneers.

• Much larger choice of species with some timbers perfect for veneer like WA Marri as solid Marri can have structural issues.

• Stable, even grain character, cost effective and tough… Veneers are well and truly the future of fine timber furniture.

• Man made designer veneers are available but they lack life and vibrancy and can cost 3x more than natural timber veneers!


What throw away furniture is doing to the environment is just terrible, we’re crafting fine furniture in a responsible way using timeless designs and a big selection of premium quality certified native timbers. With no more kilns in Adelaide to cure timber and sources in Tasmania, Victoria and WA gaining tighter licensing restrictions, premium kiln dried solid hardwood of decent proportions is becoming more and more rare and therefore expensive. On the flip side, veneer leaves up to 3.6m long are bonded to 18mm sheet 1200mm wide meaning we could make up to 35 timber veneer table tops from one solid table top, that speaks volumes for the environment. This is furniture you’ll have for 30-40 years and your kids will actually wan be it solid, veneers or a combination. Recycled timbers are a great way to use resources but we chose not to use them as a rule.

Damage and Durability: 

Both veneer and solid timber tables can expect some damage to various degrees, the good news is they are both repaired and re-lacquered exactly the same.The primary job of our commercial grade polyurethane 2 pack lacquers is to be ‘sacrificial’ meaning the lacquer takes the scratches, not the timber. Both can be repaired in a similar fashion but the veneers are harder in terms of impact resistance than pretty much all solid hardwoods.

There were benefit in solid timber back when the timber veneer sub-straights and adhesives were questionable, solid timbers were more available and the traditional styles were more popular. These days the technology and advancements in natural timber veneer board make it a far superior modern furniture material than the traditional traits and restrictions of solid timber in almost every way.

We have both solid and veneer tables here in our factory showroom, come in and have a look before you buy your next dining table. See you when you get here and thanks for reading!

{Advice is based on our own professional experience, knowledge, standards, designs and manufacturing methods}

PS the table on the left is the American Oak veneers, the table on the right is American Oak solid

Mabarrack Furniture, 723 Port Rd Woodville Park SA 5011 Continue reading Solid Timber Vs Timber Veneers…

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Bar Table goes 128kg…

Ok so dining tables at bar height aren’t a new thing, in fact we’ve made many over the years but this one is the largest and by far the heaviest. This exact bar table is crafted from solid Black Butt and weighs in just under 130kg!! In contrast, the complimentary bar chairs (not stools) are very light and extremely comfortable but strong enough to earn a lifetime warranty. If there’s a more fun, less casual way of entertaining family and friends then we’d like to hear about it… Continue reading Bar Table goes 128kg…