Each piece of natural wood veneer is unique. Slices from the same log have entirely different visual characteristics resulting from the same type of cut. The two methods most commonly used are slicing and rotary cut.

How a particular log is sliced may depend upon any one, or a combination of determining factors including species, size, yield and physical characteristics, as well as intended use. Depending upon the wood species involved, the veneer may be cut to a thickness of 1/32“ or thinner.

After the log has been selected, and the cutting method determined, it is cut to lengths of nine to 17 feet and divided into halves or quarters. These sections are called “cants.” During the process of slicing and drying, each sheet of veneer (referred to as a leaf) is carefully stacked in the same order in which it was cut from the log. The total leafs cut from one cant are now called a flitch of veneer, measured in surface square-footage, regardless of thickness.

Each log and its resulting flitches are identified by a serial number. This procedure of accurate identification is necessary to assure consistent matching. Designers can select veneers by requesting flitch samples that are tagged for identification. These are usually pulled to represent the general characteristics and overall quality of the flitch.

One of the more important considerations when inspecting and selecting veneer is waste. Before being converted to panels and plywood, veneer must be clipped along the sides and ends. Other factors affecting waste may include shape, holes, knots, splits and undesirable growth characteristics. This wastage is an important factor in determining the usable square footage and cost of the necessary amount of veneer needed to complete a project. To absorb waste and provide a usable product to craftspeople, some veneers are further processed and manufactured into sheets with a flexible backing.

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©2008 Industrial Plywood, Inc.