Specifying Face Veneers

Decorative face veneers are the reason hardwood plywood is specified as a material and the primary determinant of panel costs. Learning to specify the wood specie, cut, match and grade of veneers that achieve precisely the desired appearance is an art unto itself, and can require much study and experience. What we hope to accomplish here is a brief overview of veneer types and characteristics and their impact on appearance. While there are a multitude of wood species to select from, we are concerned here with commercially available veneers, both domestic and imported.

Four factors determine the appearance and the costs of veneers and ultimately of the decorative wood panel:

  • WOOD SPECIES: Primary determinant of the color and available grain characteristic and unique figure.
  • VENEER CUTTING: How veneer is cut from a log determines how the grain is presented.
  • VENEER MATCHING: Leaves or "flitches" of veneer can be assembled to achieve desired pattern and color effects.
  • VENEER GRADING: Determines how much natural variation is allowed; splits, joints, knots, bark pockets and knot and worm holes.