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Old 10-04-2003, 03:43 AM   #1
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Wood Veneer Furniture Project

As some of you may or may not know, I am the Director of Operations for a manufacturing company that produces wood veneer furniture for many different brand name furniture companies that you would be very familiar with. Because of confidentiality agreements, I can't get into who we produce for.

Nonetheless, as you may or may not have seen from another post, I just placed a deposit on my 25' International CCD. I can tell you that I am very excited about receiving the unit and using it often.

As much as I am excited about this unit, I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of laminate surfaces. I started to think about what could be done to the unit to differentiate it from the others and also give it a warmer look and feel without increasing the weight. I know that the word warm and CCD don't exactly fit in the same sentence, but if anyone has ever been to a "W Hotel" or the "Clift Hotel" in San Francisco, you know that there is a happy medium.

Being that our production facilities are in China and I have been over here for the last 7 weeks, I needed to find a little project for myself. I ended up thinking that maybe the best solution to adding some warmth to my unit was to mix the existing laminate with some rich looking wood veneer. The question was where should I put it? I knew that it might be hassle to start taking cabinetry down, etc., but I knew that it would be very easy to swap out the laminate dinette. To me, the dinette represents two radiused seats and a table top.

Today, we started working on a prototype of a new dinette seat that will look identical to the one in the International CCD. The difference is that the one we make will have a dark cherry wood veneer finish on it. I think that it could look very sharp and give the trailer a very rich look. If dark cherry isn't the way to go, there are thousands of other wood veneers and finishes to try. From my calculations, the entire set will weigh only 2% to 4% more than Airstreams. This is not that much and only equates to a few pounds. As the project develops, I will post some pictures on the web site if anyone is interested in seeing them.

The one thing that I wanted to ask you about, was how you felt about laminate vs. veneer. I know that laminate is easier to maintain, but there are plenty of trailers out there with Oak, Hickory, etc. As one who is not a HUGE fan on those types of woods, I was wondering what you thought about using woods within a trailer? To take it a step further, if someone really put there time into it, they could come up with an entire line that allowed a consumer to replace old laminate dinettes, counters, cabinets, etc., with identical pieces except in a wooden veneer with a wood and stain that they got to chose? I guess you could call it a refacing project?

I will be interested to hear your opinions.
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Old 10-04-2003, 07:40 AM   #2
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I very well understand your remarks. I personally like the CCD trailers because of their modern design (also because of the 8’ with – european streets …). But partly, because the classic line’s interior – at least to me - is dated, excessively heavy and (most important) doesn’t seem to “match” the airstream image/design.

For me the special fascination of these trailers stems from their aluminium/metal surface shine, the streamlined shape and the airplane-like style - making them an “american icon” as a local newspaper wrote just recently.

Hence, I would welcome an interior design that’s smarter/better engineered (in terms of functional quality, weight, durability etc.) and “more airstream-like” (I envision a mixture of the rounded shapes found e.g. in the pre-’04 AS 22’ International with somewhat cooler/more technical details). This would blend well with the idea of real wood veneer, I believe.

An example of this might be the new VW Weekender Van (now from VW - not Westfalia anymore, as Westafalia has been bought by DC/Mercedes), who uses an aluminium-“cardboard”-material with veneer (less than 1/3 the weight/thickness of the old lightweight poplar plywood with laminate surface).

I would like to see your cherry veneer project (but I could imagine that the black wardrobe surface would interfere with the cherry ?!) – and consider the idea of DIY-veneer kits a good one (though market volume may be limited).

Please keep us posted !
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Old 10-04-2003, 08:46 AM   #3
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I definitely agree with you that the dinette in dark cherry might be a little to dark with the black laminate in the background.

The more I thought I about it, I think what I am going to do is use a domestic veneer with a light finish. I am going to add a hint of orange to pick up the color of the Hazard Orange cushions.

Being that the bench and table in the CCD look either white or gray, I think my new combination might be a nice look. If the color doesn't work, remember, it can always easily be changed. The bottom line is that I am changing an entire dining area from a laminate surface to a highly polished wood surface. I think it has the potential to look dynamic.

Bear in mind that I am only making a prototype, so once we start, we can always make revisions or do things to improve the final outcome. If it turns out looking nice, I may then decide to make an entire set for my new Airstream.

I will post some pictures on the web site once we start making some progress.
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Old 10-04-2003, 08:52 AM   #4
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Type of wood veneer

I meant to add that the type of veneer that we might have the most success with is either White Ash, White Birch or White Pine. I truly think that if we can get the stain right for the orange and dilute it so it barely comes out, and then spray, sand and polish with 4 to 5 coats of lacquer, we could have a really cool looking unit.

More info to come!
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Old 10-04-2003, 06:04 PM   #5
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I think I understand and have seen examples simular to what you plan. The right choice of color and placement of the wood surfaces can be very tastefull. Very interested in seeing what you come up with. Not familure enough with the CCD line to comment on where.

I would like to see some in progress photos and hear of some tips on how to install the product. Our coach has some beat up pannels and I am leaning towards resurfacing with a wood Veneer as a remedy.
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Old 10-05-2003, 12:52 AM   #6
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You should really take a look at the Airstream website and visit the CCD model.

The bench that I am attempting to duplicate would be the only complicated part of doing a wood veneer project in that model. The reason it would be so complicated is because of the radius being used and our goal to keep the weight of our final project down.

My objective is to have the prototype bench finished between the 15th and 18th of the month.

I will post pictures of all the stages we go through.
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