Glossary of Terms

In this Glossary of Terms of terms we touch upon the most commonly used terms within the wood veneer industry. As a result we believe that you will have better understanding and be able to make informed decisions when purchasing and working with our wood veneer. 

10 Mil Paperback
This is a reference to the thickness of the paper backing applied to sheets of veneer. A single mil thickness is 0.0254mm, so in this example the backing paper is .254mm thick.

20 Mil Paperback
This is a reference to the thickness of the paper backing applied to sheets of veneer. A single mil thickness is .0254mm, so in this example the backing paper is .58mm thick.

Acclimate
A specified period of time in which veneer is given to adapt to its environment and changes in temperature and relative humidity.

Aliphatic Resin
Aliphatic resin glue, commonly known as “yellow glue” or “wood glue”. This type of glue can be used to bond veneer to certain substrate materials.

Annual Ring
A growth layer put on by a tree in a single year which includes both springwood and summerwood.

Bark Pocket
A natural defect in wood, usually small, where bark is surrounded by regular the wood growth.

Birdseye
A type of “figure” most commonly found in Maple and occasionally in other species of wood. It is made up of many small circular or oval shapes caused by distortion of the wood fibres and tends to be darker in colour. These distortions loosely resemble the appearance of a bird’s eye.

Block Mottle
An irregular variation in the cellular structure of the wood which is displayed as blotchy patches throughout the wood grain. This type of “figure” is usually found in species such as Makore and Anigre and is highly sought after.

Book Match
This is the most commonly used method of matching veneers. Every other leaf of veneer in sequence is turned over or opened like the pages of a book. In making veneer faces or panels many of these pairs will be jointed to produce the face or panel.

Burl
A burl is an abnormal or deformed growth on a tree. This is caused by environmental or an induced form of stress to the tree. Burls produce varying swirling patterns around clusters of eyes or elliptical forms. Due to its uniqueness and beauty, burl veneer is highly sought after.

Cathedral Grain
A specific grain pattern categorised by a continual series of “V” or “Ʌ” shapes. This pattern is common to Flat cut or Plain sliced veneer.

Center Match
A veneer face with a joint exactly at the midpoint or center line. This matching style has an equal number of flitch leaves on either side of the midpoint. As a result, a perfectly centered and balance matched face is produced.

Checks
These are small cracks running parallel to the wood grain. Checks are normally caused by stress during the drying or seasoning stages of the manufacturing process.

Colored/Dyed Veneer
Refers to natural wood that has gone through the complex dying process to produce unique veneers from regular wood.

Comb Grain
A high-quality rift cut with very straight grain and closely spaced growth increments.

Crossbar
A figure or irregularity of grain. It is shown as resembling a dip in the grain that runs at right angles to the length of the veneer.

Cross Grain
A veneer sheet or face in which the grain of the wood runs in shortest length of the veneer.

Crotch Figure
Produced from the section of the tree where the main trunk branches out into two or more branches. This cut yields highly figured patterns that are dense through the middle and often produce feather like pattern. Crotch figure is highly sought after and is commonly found in mahogany.

Defect, Open
Any of the naturally occurring flaws, including checks, knotholes, loose knots, splits or worm holes, that interrupt the smooth texture or appearance of the wood veneer surface.

Delamination
A separation of the face veneer from the backing material. It can also be a separation of veneer from the substrate it is being bonded to.

Edge Banding
Thin strips of wood veneer made to cover the exposed edges of a panel substrate. This is usually available in rolls of various lengths and comes either pre-glued or unglued.

Face
Leaves or components of veneer that have been spliced together to an exact size. Usually a veneer face has not been applied to any backer material or substrate.

Fiddleback Figure
A fine, strong, even, ripple figure that runs uninterrupted from edge to edge across the veneer leaf. When book matched it forms a slight to pronounced chevron pattern.

Figure
The patterns produced in wood grain by abnormalities in the growth rings. These are usually a result of knots, rays, or interlocked and wavy grains. A few figure patterns include Block Mottle, Curly, Fiddleback or Blistered figure.

Flake or Fleck Figure
Flake figure is predominantly found in species with heavy medullary ray growth. These species include Oak, Lacewood or American Sycamore. The knife or saw is almost parallel to the medullary ray as it cuts through wood and produces a “flakey” appearance in the grain.

Flat Cut
Also called Plain Slicing, it is one of the most common methods of veneer manufacturing. The result is a grain pattern known as “cathedral”. As each leaf in the flitch is similar, a consistent and even matching pattern is possible, making it ideal for wall panels and furniture.

Flexible Veneer
A wood veneer face that is laminated to a backing material such as paper, wood crossband or phenolic. They are normally produced as ready to use dimensional sheets of real wood veneer.

Flitch
A section of a log made ready to slice into veneer. After slicing the veneer individual leaves are bundled together in the sequence in which they were cut.

Grading
A standard by which veneers are “classed” specific to the quality and species. Grading commonly defines the value and possible uses for the veneer.

Grain
The direction, size, arrangement and appearance of the wood fibers in veneer. Woods fall into three groups: Fine grained (Birch, Cherry, Maple, etc.), medium grained (Walnut, Mahogany, etc.) and coarse grained (Oak, etc.).

Gum Spots
Gum or resinous material shown as color spots caused by an accumulation of resins in the veneer. Most commonly found in Cherry. This undesirable characteristic is acceptable in varying degrees in most grades of Cherry veneer.

Half Round Slicing
Similar to rotary cut, which also produces a high veneer yield. Primarily used to add width to narrow stocks by increasing the plane of cut. This slicing method is also used to enhance a wild grain pattern. Matching is possible when the leaves are kept in sequence. Half round cutting can be used to achieve a “flat cut” veneer appearance.

Hardwood
General term used to describe veneer or lumber produced from broadleaf or deciduous trees.

Heartwood
The non-active center of a tree. Usually distinguishable from the outer portion (sapwood) due to its darker color.

Joint
The junction created where the edges of two or more veneer leaves are joined together.

Joint, Open
A joint where two leaves of veneer do not fit together tightly.

Knot
Knots are visible imperfections in wood grain that are circular and darker than the surrounding area. It is abnormal wood that was once the base connection of a branch to the tree trunk but has been grown around by the rest of the grain.

Knot, Open
A void produced in a knot when a piece of the wood grain has fallen out.

Knot, Pin
Sound knots that are less than 7mm in diameter.

Knot, Sound
Knots that are solid across their face and are firmly fixed in place by the surrounding wood.

Lamination
The process of gluing or bonding the component sections of the plywood into a single permanent piece.

Leaf
A veneer leaf is a single strip or piece of veneer from a sliced bundle.

Looseside
The side of a veneer sheet that was in contact with the hand knife as the sheet was being cut. The bending of the wood at the knife edge causes cutting checks.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
A composite panel or core material manufactured from cellulose wood fiber and resin bonding agents.

Mineral Streak
Concentration of mineral matter in wood and veneer which shows up as darker discoloration or a streak. This is common in species such as Maple and Hickory as well as other hardwoods.

Mottle Figure
A variegated pattern which consists mainly of irregular, wavy fibers extending for short distances across the veneer face. If there is also some irregular cross figure in a log with a twisted interwoven grain, the broken stripe figure becomes a mottle.

Particle Board
A composite panel or core material created with small wood particles and wood fiber together with a bonding resin.

Pecky
Pockets of fragmented wood caused by localized decay, or wood areas with a stark color change related to localized injury such as a bird peck. Peck is sometimes considered as a decorative effect such as bird peck in pecan and hickory or pecks in cypress.

Pin Knot
See “Knot Pin.”

Pitch Pocket
A slight opening running parallel to the annual growth rings which contains pitch or “resin”. This is common to Cherry and sometimes Pine.

Plain Sliced
See “Flat Cut”.

Poly Vinyl Acetate (PVA)
Common glue used in woodworking and veneering. It’s more commonly referred to as “white glue”.

Polyback
A flexible and strong kraft liner paper infused with a polymer resin. Usually used as a veneer backer or as a balance sheet on the reverse side of veneered panels.

Pommele Figure
Comes from the French word, “Pomme” (Pomme = Apple). The term given to a regular veneer marking which resembles apples. Pommele figure is also show as a likeness to a 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 Cut
A veneer slicing method where the knife slices through the annual growth rings at approximately 90° producing a series of parallel stripes. In Red and White Oak this will produce a characteristic Flake pattern.

Quilted Figure
A larger, more exaggerated version of pommele or blister figure. The cellular figure is elongated and closely crowded giving it a three-dimensional effect. It is most commonly found in Maple, Mahogany, Moabi and Sapele.

Random Match/Planked
A 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.

Raw Veneer
Wood veneer cut from any log by any slicing method that is dried and then used as a natural flitch or leaf of veneer. The majority of the production and machining of this veneer has to be complete before the final application to a substrate.

Reconstituted/Engineered Veneer
A man-made veneer which uses real wood fiber with natural colorants to simulate various color, figure and grain seen in real wood veneers. Can also be produced in a wide variety of styles with different woods and colours to create a very unique veneer.

Ribbon Stripe
The 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 Cut
A veneer slicing method where the knife slices through the annual rings just a few degrees off an exact right angle. The result is 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 Cut
Veneer that is produced by centering an entire 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.

Running Match
A panel or face that is made from components running through the flitch consecutively. Any portion of a component or leaf in starting the next panel.

Sapwood
The 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 Matching
Sequence match refers to a group of veneer sheets that are produced in order from the same log.

Slip Match
Slip 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. The edges are then glued together to create the veneer face.

Smoked/Fumed Veneer
Natural veneer that has gone through the smoking or fuming process. This process causes the woods natural tannins to react and darken. The result is a darker veneer with its original characteristics, making it a popular choice often used for high-end finishes.

Softwood
General term used to describe lumber or veneer produced from needle and/or cone-bearing trees.

Spliced Veneer
Veneer leaves that are joined together in specific matching patterns through a production process known as splicing to create veneer faces and flexible veneer without the use of tape.

Substrate
Any 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.

Swirl Grain
A lesser degree of crotch figure. The grain tends to swirl around in a random pattern. This figure frequently appears in cherry, mahogany, walnut and maple.

Tight Side
The side of the veneer leaf that was farthest from the knife as it was being hand cut and containing no cutting checks.

Veneer
A thin sheet of wood which is rotary cut, sliced or sawed from a log or flitch.

Veneer Face
See “Spliced Veneer.”

Veneer Log
Logs, either hardwood or softwood, which have specific characteristics or traits which qualify them to be sliced for veneer only. Less than 5% of all logs are of veneer quality.

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