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What Is a Wooden Applique?

Rubberwood appliques do not draw high prices.
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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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A wooden applique is a decorative accent piece typically added to furniture, home decor items and craft projects. The appliques usually feature extensive detailing, such as ornate floral, shell or scroll patterns. A wooden applique can be made in a variety of ways, including stamping, hand-carving or embossing.

Embossed appliques are made from pressed woods by using a combination of extreme pressure and heat during the molding process. As the wood composition of the applique can vary, embossed appliques tend to take stain unevenly. Typically, the recessed areas will absorb more stain, making them appear darker. Paint is the preferred finishing method for many embossed appliques.

Carved wooden appliques are unique in that, because they are hand-produced, they are often one-of-a-kind artwork. A wooden applique can be carved from a variety of wood types, including alder, hard maple and cherry. The type of wood can impact the price, with wood appliques made out of walnut typically drawing greater prices than those made out of rubberwood. While many appliques carved from rubberwood are more affordable, they are also best finished with paint rather than stain.

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The method of attaching a wooden applique to an object will vary depending on the style of applique and the object it is being attached to. Some appliques may be applied with wood glue and clamps, while others may also need to be nailed to stay in place. When possible, it's best to drill a small pilot hole for the nail through the applique so it does not split the wood when pounded in. Wooden appliques are often used to decorate fireplace mantels and ceilings.

A wooden applique can dramatically change the look of furniture. Adding scrolls, rosettes or lion heads to a plain table instantly gives it a more sophisticated air. Plain dresser fronts can be transformed by adding a scroll and fan applique in the center of each drawer and adding matching scrolls to the dresser's sides. A wooden applique can be applied to just about any style of wooden furniture, as long as there is enough of a flat surface for the applique to be securely attached.

Attaching a wooden applique is an easy method of bringing craft projects to the next level of sophistication. An ornate wooden applique can serve as a focal piece on the top of a wooden jewelry box, or smaller appliques can be attached to the front of a picture frame's corners to give it a richer look. Some wooden appliques are works of art themselves and may simply be stained or painted and displayed alone as an accent piece.

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