Rotary Cut: A bold, sometimes wild, variegated figure. An undivided length of log is mounted in a manner that permits it to be turned on its long axis. While spinning, a razor-sharp knife, as long as or longer than the section of log, is slowly advanced toward the center of rotation. The veneer produced comes from the log as a continuous sheet. Much like paper being unwound from a roll. Rotary-cut veneer is primarily used in the manufacture of softwood plywood, and for applications where matching is unimportant. Hardwood veneer that may be rotary cut is usually limited to birch, maple, oak and ash.
Quarter Cut: Straight grain or ribbon-striped appearance. The cant is mounted on the slicer in a position that will cause the growth rings to strike the knife at an approximate right angle. The edge of the annual rings creates the lineal figure of the veneer. Oak species will also include flakes. (see Rift Cut). Only wood species with distinctive annual rings are quarter sliced, producing a consistent appearance throughout the flitch. Some popular quarter species cuts include mahogany, oak, anigre and zebra wood.
Flat Cut & Plain Sliced: Also know as plain slicing and plain sawn. A variegated figure typified by straight grain mixed with swirls and cathedrals. Flat-cut veneer is produced by advancing a half log, mounted on a large steel rack that moves up and down and towards a stationary knife through a series or vertical, parallel cuts. Although grains variations will change from tree to tree, the designer can anticipate that the pattern will be somewhat similar. Flat-sliced veneer is moderately priced and commonly available in most wood species.
Rift Cut: A straight grain effect similar to true quarter cut veneer. Oak trees contain characteristic growth features called medullary rays—cells radiating outward from the center of the tree, like the spokes of a wheel. If oak is quarter sliced, flakes result from cutting parallel to these rays (often seen in older furniture made from oak). To minimize the occurrence of these flakes, the cant is cut at an angle of 15 degrees off the quartered position.
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