Glossary of Common Veneer Terms

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Architectural Grade
Utilizes top quality veneer and generally has special requirements for balancing, sequencing, component width, etc.


Burls feature swirling grain around clusters of dormant buds, rings, or eyes. Available in White Ash, Olive Ash, Carpathian Elm, Maple, Mappa, Myrtle, and Walnut.

A group of cut veneer leaves generally containing 24 or 32 consecutive sheets.

Corrugation in the veneer leaf resulting from different drying runs and irregular annual ring development. The veneer has to be flattened again to make the veneer saleable.

Book Match
The most commonly used match in the industry. Every other piece of veneer is turned over so adjacent pieces are opened like two adjacent pages in a book. The veneer joints match and create a mirrored image pattern at the joint line, yielding a maximum continuity of grain. Book matching is used with flat cut, quarter, rift, or rotary cut veneer.

Blue Stain
Blue stains on the surface of the veneer which occur through insufficient water extraction when slicing (too low heating capacity on the pressure bar or when slicing too fast) because water remaining on the surface of the veneer turns blue through oxidation.

Bark Pocket
A small area of bark around which normal wood had grown.

Barber Pole
The noticeable color variation that occurs when a distortion of the grain is created by the knife blade. The knife blade, as it hits the wood, creates a "loose" side where the cells have been opened up by the blade and a "tight" side. Because the "tight" and "loose" faces alternate in adjacent pieces of veneer in book matching, they may accept stain differently.

Block Mottle Figure
An irregular form of figuring which runs over the complete surface of the veneer.

The term given to the small to large eye-shaped marking of figure found throughout select sheets of Maple.

The lowest grade veneer which is generally only used as cross band veneer or for non-visible surfaces.


Cut from the juncture of a tree's main branches and trunk, crotch figures are often subcategorized as flame, plume, rooster tail, feather, or burning bush. Available in Mahogany.

Veneer sheet in which the grain of the wood runs in the 4' direction. This is denoted as 8'x4'. Width is the measurement across the grain, while length is the measurement with the grain. The first number is always the width and the second is the length.

Cross Break
Separation of the wood cells across the grain. Such breaks may be due to internal strains resulting from unequal longitudinal shrinkage or to external forces.

Type of figure or irregularity of grain resembling a dip in the grain running at right angles, or nearly so, to the length of veneer.

Component (of Face)
An individual piece of veneer that is jointed to other pieces to achieve a full length and width face.

Comb Grain
A quality of rift veneer with exceptionally straight grain and closely spaced growth increments.

Small slits running parallel to the grain of the wood, caused chiefly by strains produced in seasoning.

Chatter Marks
Deviation in veneer thickness caused by vibration of the veneer block on the slicing machine, an incorrect pressure setting on the slicing machine or an incorrect setting on the sander. The resulting marks on the veneer leaf are regularly distributed cross-running stripes.

Cathedral Structure
Much sought after structure in flat cut or plain sliced bundles.


Stains in wood substances. Common veneer stains are sap stains, blue stains, stains produced by chemical action caused by the iron in the cutting knife coming in contact with the tannic acid of the wood and those resulting from the chemical action of the glue.

The separation of veneer in plywood through failure of the adhesive.


The complete bundle of thin sheets of veneer after cutting, laid together in sequence as they were sliced or sawn.

Flat Cut
The half log, or flitch, is mounted with the heart side flat against the flitch table of the slicer and the slicing is done parallel to a line through the center of the log. Cathedral and straight grain patterns result.

Varies in size from "dash marks" to "stretch marks". Created when the pithrays are cut across at an angle when slicing. Very common in Quartered Red and White Oak.

Markings across the grain of the face. In book matched material, the markings seem to extend across the width of the face.

The pattern produced in a wood surface by annual growth rings, rays, knots, deviations from natural grain such as interlocked and wavy grain and irregular coloration.

Fiddleback Figure
Narrow bands of figure that run uninterrupted from edge to edge across the width of the veneer leaf. When book matched, a chevron pattern is formed. Most commonly available in Anegre, Maple, Makore and English Sycamore.

Leaves of veneer that have been spliced together, but have not yet been applied to a panel or backer sheet. Also, the better side of any plywood panel in which the outer piles are of different veneer grades.


Gum Spots
Gum or resinous material or color spots caused by prior resin accumulations sometimes found on panel surfaces. Gum spots can often be removed by sanding.

Gum Pockets
Well defined openings between rings of annual growth, containing gum or evidence of prior gum accumulations.

Black spots or patches which can occur in Black Cherry veneer. They are not arranged in a regular pattern but can be positioned quite differently from one veneer leaf to the next.

The direction, size, arrangement and appearance of the fibers in wood or veneer. The 8' grain direction in 4'x8' veneer and plywood.


The non-active center of a tree generally distinguishable from the outer portion (sapwood) by its darker color.

General term used to designate lumber or veneer produced from broad-leafed or deciduous trees. This is in contrast to softwood, which is produced from evergreen or coniferous trees.


Joint, Open
Joint in which two adjacent pieces of veneer do not fit tightly together.

The line between the edges of two adjacent leaves of veneer.

Jet Drier
Veneer drying machine which dries the veneer in a continuous operation using hot air.


Knots, Sound, Tight
Knots that are solid across their faces and fixed by growth to retain their place.

Knot, Open
Opening produced when a portion of the wood substance of a knot has dropped out.

Cross section of a tree branch or limb with the grain usually running at right angles to that of the piece of wood in which it occurs.


Loose Side
In knife-cut veneer, the side of the sheet that was in contact with the knife as the sheet was being cut. It contains cutting checks (lathe checks) because of the bending of the wood at the knife edge.

The section of a tree that can be sawn or used for veneer.

Sliced sheet of a veneer flitch.

A condition where one piece of veneer in the same ply overlaps an adjacent piece. Face manufacturing defect.


Dark patches or pockets in wood.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
A panel or core product manufactured from wood fibers combined with a synthetic resin or other bonding system.

Matched, Random
Two or more pieces of unequal size or from different flitches in a single face.

Matched, Slip
Adjoining pieces of veneer are placed in sequence without turning over every other piece. The grain figure repeats, but joints will not show mirrored effect. Slip matching is often used in quarter cut and rift cut veneer to minimize the barber pole effect.

Matched, End
This type of matching is often used to extend the apparent length of available veneer for high wall panels and long conference tables. A sketch or drawing is required for quoting, as there are several different ways to achieve this result.

Matched, Center
An even number of equal width veneer leaves make up a panel face. Thus, there is a veneer joint in the center of the panel. This match further reduces veneer yield.

Matched, Book
The most commonly used match in the industry. Every other piece of veneer is turned over so adjacent pieces are opened like two adjacent pages in a book. The veneer joints match and create a mirrored image pattern at the joint line, yielding a maximum continuity of grain. Book matching is used with flat cut, quarter, rift or rotary cut veneer.

Matched, Running
Each panel face is assembled from as many veneer leaves as necessary so that the widths and number of matching veneer leaves are not requirements. This can produce a match which appears less even or random and asymmetrical.

Matched, Reverse Slip
In reverse slip matching the veneer leaves are slipped out from under each other and every other veneer leaf is flipped end to end. This balances the character of the veneer in the panel face.

Matched, Balance
The width of each veneer leaf in a panel face is the same. Panels may contain an even or odd number of leaves and distribution may change from panel to panel within a sequenced set. This reduces veneer yield.


Open Defect
Faults in veneer which produce holes.


A dense pattern of small rings enveloping one another. Often described as looking like "suede" or "fur." Most commonly available as Sapele.

Plywood (Veneer Core)
An assembly made of layers (plies) of veneer, or of veneer in combination with a solid core, joined with an adhesive.

Plain Sliced
The half log, or flitch, is mounted with the heart side flat against the flitch table of the slicer and the slicing is done parallel to a line through the center of the log. Cathedral and straight grain patterns result.

Pin Knots
Small knots found throughout the veneer sheet.

The thin black knots in Yew veneer which are the typical figuring of Yew veneer. The more pepper there is and the more regular this pepper is distributed over the surface, the more valuable the veneer.

Patches, Inconspicuous
Elongated patches which are similar in color and grain to adjacent wood so as to blend well.

Intersections of sound wood plugs or shims placed and taped into veneer faces to fill small voids.

Particleboard (PBC)
A panel or core product composed of small particles and wood fiber that are bonded together with synthetic resin adhesives in the presence of heat and pressure.


The quarter log is mounted on the flitch table so that the growth rings of the log strike the knife at approximately right angles, producing a series of stripes. These stripes vary in width from species to species. A natural distribution of ray flake is a characteristic of this cut in red and white oak.


Rough Grain
Irregular shaped areas of generally uneven corrugation on the surface of veneer, differing from the surrounding smooth veneer and occurring as the veneer is cut by the lathe or slicer.

Rotary Cut
The log is mounted centrally in the lathe and turned against a razor sharp blade, like unwinding a roll of paper. Since this cut follows the log's annual growth rings, a bold variegated grain marking is produced. Rotary cut veneer is exceptionally wide.

The cut slices slightly across the medullary rays, accentuating the vertical grain and minimizing the flake. Rift grain is restricted to red and white oak.


Stripe, Ribbon
In some woods, such as Mahogany, wide unbroken stripes can be produced by cutting on the quarter.

Stripe, Broken
Broken stripe is a modification of ribbon stripe with the markings tapering out and producing a broken ribbon.

Color changes in the log when it has been stored too long. Direct radiation from the sun or too dry of an atmosphere furthers this development.

Split Heart (Manufactured Cathedral)
A method of achieving an inverted "V" or cathedral type figure by joining two "flat-cut" face components of similar color and grain.

A distinct kind of wood.

Cracks in the lumber which follow the annual rings. Parts of trunks with this defect are not suitable for producing veneer or sawn timber.

Sequencing refers to a set of veneer sheets that have been produced in order from the same log. The number of sheets per sequence can be limited by species, cut, grain-orientation and yield.

The outer cell layer of the wood between the bark and heartwood. The supply of water and nutrients to the tree is only through the outer row of sap cells. The remaining layers of cells in the sapwood only serve to store water. Color is offset in sapwood. The sapwood is cut away in veneer.


Turning Veneer
The presentation of a log which is shown bundle by bundle.

To Split
Cutting a log to the required length using the desired method of slicing.

Tight Side
In knife-cut veneer, the side of the sheet was farthest from the knife as the sheet was being cut. It contains no cutting checks (lathe checks).


Underground Burl
Burl log where the burl development is in the root and the burl is either completely or partially under the ground. These logs have to be dug out to obtain them, an operation which is generally done by hand in order not to damage high quality burls. Underground burls are Myrtle, Walnut, Maple, and Redwood Burl.


A thin sheet of wood, rotary cut, sliced, or sawed from a log, bolt or flitch. Veneer may be referred to as a ply when assembled into a panel.

The pit used for steaming or cooking logs.