Wood Veneer Terminology
10 Mil PaperbackA reference to the paper backing applied to sheets of flexible veneer. A single mil thickness is .001” so in this example the backing paper is a nominal .010” thick.
20 Mil PaperbackA reference to the paper backing applied to sheets of flexible veneer. A single mil thickness is .001” so in this example the backing paper is a nominal .020” thick.
AcclimateThe process of allowing veneer to adapt to changes in environment, temperature and relative humidity over a specified period of time.
Aliphatic ResinAliphatic resin glue is commonly referred to as “yellow glue” or “wood glue”. This is one type of glue that can be used to bond veneer to certain substrate materials.
Annual RingA growth layer put on by a tree in a single year that includes both springwood and summerwood.
Bark PocketA small natural defect in wood where bark is surrounded by normal wood growth.
BirdseyeA type of “figure” found commonly in Maple and occasionally in other species of wood. It consists of many small circular or elliptical shapes caused by distortion of the wood fiber and is usually slightly darker. These distortions generally resemble the appearance of a bird’s eye.
Block Mottle An irregular variegation in the cellular structure of the wood which appears as blotchy patches across the grain of the wood. This type of anomaly is commonly found in Makore and Anigre and is highly desirable.
Book MatchThe most commonly used method of matching veneers where every other leaf of veneer is turned over or opened like the pages of a book. In making veneer faces many of these pairs will be joined together to create the face.
BurlA burl is an abnormal or deformed growth on a tree caused by some type of environmental or induced form of stress to the tree. Burls produce swirling grain patterns around clusters of eyes or elliptical forms and are highly sought after for their beauty and unique character.
Cathedral GrainA specific grain pattern characterized by a series of stacked “V” and inverted “V” shapes. This pattern is common to Flat cut or Plain sliced veneer.
Center MatchA veneer face with a joint down the midpoint or center line and equal number of flitch leaves on each side of the center line producing a perfectly centered and balance matched face.
ChecksSmall cracks running parallel to the grain of the wood normally caused by stress in the grain during the drying or seasoning process.
Comb GrainAn exceptional quality rift cut grain with a very straight grain and closely spaced growth increments.
CrossbarA grain irregularity resembling a dip in the grain running at right angles to the length of the veneer.
Cross GrainA veneer sheet or face in which the grain of the wood runs in the 4’ direction as opposed to the standard 4’x8’. This is referred to as 8’x4’.
Crotch FigureCut from the portion of the tree where the main trunk branches out into two or more limbs. This cut produces highly figured wood grain patterns that are dense through the middle and produce a distinctive plume-like or feathery pattern that is highly sought after. This is common in mahogany and less common in walnut and cherry.
Defect, OpenAny one of naturally occurring flaws such as checks, splits, knotholes, loose knots or worm holes that interrupt the smooth texture or appearance of the wood surface.
DelaminationA separation of the face veneer from the backing material whether it be paper, wood crossband or phenolic backer. It can also be a separation of a veneer component or sheet veneer from the substrate it’s applied to.
Edgebanding, Wood EdgebandingThin strips of wood veneer designed to cover the exposed edges of any panel substrate.
FaceLeaves or components of veneer that have been spliced together but have not been applied to any backer material or substrate panel.
Fiddleback FigureNarrow bands of crossfire figure that run uninterrupted from edge to edge across the veneer leaf. When book matched and splice together it forms a slight or pronounced chevron grain pattern.
FigureThe patterns produced in wood grain by deviations in the growth ring caused by knots, rays, or interlocked and wavy grains. These patterns might include Block Mottle, Curly, Fiddleback or Blistered figure to name a few.
Flake FigureFlake figure is predominantly noticed in species which have heavy medullary ray growth such as Oak, Lacewood or American Sycamore. The saw or knife cut is nearly parallel to the medullary ray as it cuts through and produces this “flakey” appearance in the grain.
Fleck FigureThe same as flake figure. See “Flake figure”.
Flat CutSlicing method where the veneer is sliced parallel to the center of a log and tangent across the growth rings. This method of slicing will produce a “cathedral grain” and is also referred to as “Plain sliced”.
Flexible VeneerA wood veneer face that is laminated to paper, wood crossband, phenolic or other backing material and processed to make standard dimensional sheets of real wood laminate.
FlitchA section of a log made ready to slice into veneer. After slicing the individual leaves are bundled together in the sequence in which they came off the slicer.
GradingA standard by which veneers are “classed” specific to quality and species. Grading generally defines the value and possible uses for veneer and hardwoods.
GrainThe direction, size, arrangement and appearance of the wood fibers in veneer.
Gum SpotsGum or resinous material or color spots caused by accumulation of resins in veneer. Most commonly found in Cherry veneer.
Half Round SlicingSimilar to rotary peeling, also producing a high veneer yield. Used primarily to add width to narrow stocks by increasing the plane of cut. Also used to enhance a particularly wild grain pattern. Matching is possible because the leaves can be kept in sequence. Half round cutting may be used to achieve "flat cut" veneer appearance.
HardwoodGeneral term used to describe veneer or lumber produced from broadleaf or deciduous trees.
Heartwood The non-active center of a tree generally distinguishable from the outer portion (sapwood) by its darker color.
JointThe line created where the edges of two leaves of veneer are joined together on a veneer face or flexible veneer sheet.
Joint, OpenA joint where two leaves of veneer do not fit together tightly.
KnotA cross section of a tree limb where the grain is running at a right angle to that of the piece of wood in which it is attached.
Knot, OpenA void produced in a knot when a piece of the wood grain has fallen out.
Knot, PinSound knots that are less than ¼” in diameter.
Knot, Sound Knots that are solid across their face and are firmly fixed in place by the surrounding wood.
LeafA veneer leaf is a single strip or piece of veneer from a sliced bundle.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)A composite panel or core material manufactured from cellulose wood fiber and resin bonding agents.
Mineral StreakConcentration of mineral matter in wood and veneer which shows up as a brownish discoloration or streak. This is common to Maple and Hickory as well as other hardwoods.
Particle BoardA composite panel or core material created with small wood particles and wood fiber together with a bonding resin.
Pin KnotSee “Knots, Pin”
Pitch PocketA slight opening running parallel to the annual growth rings which contains pitch or “resin”. This is common to Cherry and sometimes Pine.
Plain SlicedSee “Flat Cut”
Poly Vinyl Acetate (PVA)Common glue used in woodworking and veneering. It’s more commonly referred to as “white glue”.
PolybackA flexible and strong kraft liner paper impregnated with a polymer resin. Usually used as a veneer face backer or as a balance sheet on the back sides of veneered panels.
Pommele FigurePommele is Italian for blister which is a desirable figure found in veneer which is a dense pattern of irregular shaped rings enveloping one another. It is similar to the cluster figure found in Burl Veneer. Pommele is Italian for blister.
Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA)An adhesive film applied to the back of flexible veneer sheets. This is sometimes referred to as “Peel and Stick” veneer.
Quarter CutA veneer slicing method where the knife slices through the annual growth rings at approximately a right angle producing a series of parallel stripes. In Red and White Oak this will produce a characteristic Flake pattern.
Random Match/PlankedA flexible veneer or veneer face created with veneer components of different size, color and grain character of the same species of wood to create a random or rustic look.
Ray, MedullarySee “Flake figure”
Ribbon StripeThe stripe effect you get when some woods are quarter cut to expose a straight wide ribbon grain with high shimmer or “chatoyance”, a desirable light reflective characteristic. This is mostly seen in Mahogany, Sapele, Afrormosia and some other woods.
Rift CutA veneer slicing method where the knife slices through the annual rings just a few degrees off an exact right angle to produce a grain similar to quarter cut without the apparent flake. This cut is most common in Red and White Oak to reduce the ray “fleck”.
Rotary CutVeneer that is produced by centering a whole log on a cutting lathe and turning it against a broad stationary blade set at a slight angle. This “peels” the veneer off the log in a continuous sheet and produces a wild, wavy grain pattern.
SapwoodThe outer layers of living wood between the bark layer and the heartwood in a tree which carries and stores nutrients for tree growth. Sapwood is lighter in color and is typically cut away to make veneer.
Sequence MatchingSequence match refers to a group of veneer sheets that are produced in order from the same log.
Slip MatchSlip match is when veneer leaves are “slipped” or laid side by side without turning every other one over like you would in a book match and then edge glued to create a veneer face.
Spliced VeneerVeneer leaves that are joined together in specific matching patterns through a production process known as splicing to create veneer faces and ultimately flexible veneer.
SubstrateAny material used as a core or surface to which veneer is applied. The most common substrates for veneering are MDF, particle board and cabinet grade plywood.
VeneerA thin sheet of wood which is rotary cut, sliced or sawed from a log or flitch.
Veneer FaceSee “Spliced Veneer”.