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How Veneers Are Made
by Duncan Richards
We gratefully give our thanks and acknowledgements to Mr Duncan Richards of D. F. RICHARDS (VENEERS LIMITED) for his permission in allowing us to reproduce this page from his Company's web site which demonstrates how veneers are cut from the log.


The grain structure of different species of wood vary tremendously and as a naturally grown product they vary from within their own specie from tree to tree. Being able though to bring about some predictability to this structure has obvious advantages. This can be achieved by slicing in a variety of ways.


1/. Flat-Cut / Flat-Sliced / Plain-Sliced

This is probably the most common form of veneer slicing performed on decorative hardwoods. As shown in the picture left. The slicer presses through the log on a plane tangential to these growth rings. The result is a roughly symmetrical central grain pattern that is characterised by a "catherdreling" of the grain and also ellipses and ovals. This form of slicing undoubtedly produces the most attractive and regular form of "crown" veneer.

As the slicer approaches the centre of the log i.e. its core (shown dark in the illustration), it will start to become defective. At this stage it is usually necessary to trim out this defective centre, leaving straight grain or half-grain or half-crown veneer, largely free from the cathedrals, ellipses and ovals mentioned earlier. Once through the core normal slicing can resume. It is for this reason that the flat-cut logs are often deemed to have two sides. crown_cut_wood_sample2gif

2/. Quarter-Cut

Often it is desirable to maximise the yield of straight grained material from a log i.e. that free of cathedrals, ellipses and ovals. This is especially the case when people are trying to achieve continuity throughout a range of veneer products. Some species also do not lend themselves to being flat-cut, either due to their crown wood being unattractive or the texture of the wood making it difficult to produce.

The logs are firstly cut into quarters. The log is then sliced on a plane that is tangential to the growth rings and on the 45% line from the centre of the log. The result is highly regular quarter-cut or straight grained veneer.


3/. Half-Round

This is a variation of the flat-cut method of slicing veneer. It is produced on a face lathe by rotating the log around an off-centre axis in an arc. This method results in almost the whole of the log yielding a crown feature. it also, by increasing the plane of the cut, increases the width of veneer produced, hence making it a useful technique when processing narrow logs. Because of the off-set axis of the log the crown is often not as central as that produced from the flat-cut logs. Also the crown effect is much "wilder" (i.e. catherdraling, etc, is not as pronounced) than that produced under the flat-cut method. The greater the circumference of the log then generally the more wilder the grain becomes.

4/. Rotary-Cut

This is when a log is rotated about its central axis and peeled from the outside. The grain pattern that is produced is a large swirl'y pattern of irregular shapes. This method is rarely used on decorative hardwoods, it is usually employed to maximise yields from cheap woods used to produce veneer for plywoods.


Thanks once again
to Duncan Richards for allowing us to use the above page from his web site.

D. F. RICHARDS (VENEERS LIMITED) has a very friendly and informative web site that we can fully recommend you to visit - just click the link on our "useful links" page (button below) to take you to the site

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