Types of Veneer Cuts
Depending on the manner in which a log is cut, strikingly different visual effects can be achieved with the wood’s grain and
characteristics. This is the beauty of working with hardwood veneer – that two logs of the same species, cut in different
ways, produce distinctive, individual veneers! Six principal methods of cutting veneer are used: rotary, quarter slicing, plain slicing, rift-cut, half-round slicing, and lengthwise slicing.
Rotary veneer is produced by centering the log in a lathe and turning it against a broad cutting knife which is set into the
log at a slight angle. Rotary cut veneer can be sufficiently wide to provide full sheet (one piece) faces.
Quarter sliced veneer achieves a straight grain appearance by slicing approximate-ly perpendicular to the annual growth rings.
Plain Slicing (Flat Cut)
Plain sliced veneer is veneer sliced parallel to the center of the log to achieve
flat-cut veneer. The cathedrals are formed by the inner most annual growth rings as the veneer is cut through the flitch.
Rift-cut veneer is produced from the various species of oak. Oak has medullary ray cells which radiate from
the center of the log like the curved spokes of a wheel. This straight grain cut is at a slight angle to the medullary rays to minimize ray fleck (flake).
Half-round slicing is cutting on an arc roughly parallel to the center of the log to achieve flat-cut veneer. The cathedrals can have more rounded tops since the grain is formed by the inner most growth rings as the veneer is cut through the flitch.
Aboard of flat sawn lumber is passed flat over a stationary knife. As it passes, a sheet of veneer is sliced from the bottom of the board. This produces a variegated figure.
Figure Characteristics of Veneer
The figure of the face veneer is of the utmost importance to the designer and architect, because the whole character of the completed installation may be determined by the choice of veneer to be used. When discussing figure in wood, those who deal with veneer usually describe the characteristics of the “movement” in the wood – whether it has wide or narrow heart, cathedral, crossfire, or is highly figured. Some of the more commonly used veneers are cherry (American), oak white, mahogany (African), walnut (American).