Veneer Glossary

A compilation of the most important veneer terms.



air drying

Drying veneers by air was the most usual method earlier. The veeer sheets were placed as single or double leaves in stacking carriages and were dried completely without any technical aids or fan. This method of drying veneer ist very time-consuming. Nowadays the veneer sheets are dryed by jet drying.

alternating spiral grain

The wood fibres run spirally around the trunk axis, where bands of annual rings turn alternately clockwise and anti-clockwise around the middle of the trunk (the axis).


A type of maple veneer that has a unique and stunning pattern in the grain wich is cased by the Ambrosia beetle which bores small holes in the tree. The beetle introduces tow different fungi. The first fungus calles "Ambrosia fungus" lines the walls of the tunnel bored by the bug and becomes its food. The second fungus is what creates the amazing colors in the wood grain.

angel step

a special type of curly figure that has the looks of stars or steps

annual ring

Annual growth zone of a tree with clear separation between the wood produced during the vegetation phase (in spring is called earlywood or springwood) and the vegetation rest period (latewood or summerwood).

appled or pommelé

From the French word "Pommelé (pomme = apple) denoting a special regular figure in the veneer, which can remind people of apples (rounded or knobbed form, like the pommels of sword hilts).

architectural grade

Top quality premium veneer "the best of the best" with special requirments of sequencing, length, width and structure.

as-cut pack

A pack made up of all the veneers produced from a complete log or flitch, which are offered and sold as veneers with all the qualities contained in the log. (Book matched).


backing boards or residual planks

The veneer block must be clamped in the machine to produce the veneer (slicing). The area clamped in the machine and held by the clamps cannot be made into veneer and is left over. The boards remain after slicing.

backing grade

This is the lowest veneer grade which is generally only used as crossband veneers or for non-visible surfaces mostly on the underside of a panel.


Veneer match, which has no figure in places.

barber pole

A noticeable and undesirable dark and light color appearance that can appear in book matched veneer. This effect is caused by different surface characteristics created during the veneer slicing process by the knife blade. The barber pole effect can e especially noticeable after finishing the veneer. It is very importante to use other matching techniques to eliminate the color variation in the veneer sheets.

bark pocket

Bark within the heartwood, found mainly in grained woods, which has been overgrown by the heartwood. (also called ingrown bark, inbark, bark seam).

bee's wing figure

A small and thight mottle figure similar in appearance to a bee's wing. This figure occurs mostly in East Indian Satinwood, also sometimes in Mahogany and Eucalyptus veneer.


Especially found in Maple logs, the name given to the small eye-shaped figure of the veneer, but can also occur in other species. Bird's Eye Maple veneers are rotary cut that creates an overall appearance of circles or "eyes".


The veneer has the effect of being blistered due to uneven contour of the annual rings. 

blue stain

Blue stains on the surface of the veneer, which can be caused by inadequate removal of water (too low heating output at pressing bar, too fast slicing) during slicing, as water standing on the surface of the veneer reacts with the constituents as a result of oxidation.

blade check

Cracks in the veneer caused by poorly set pressing bars in veneering machines (also called knife, cutting or lathe check).

block mottle figure

Irregular form of fiddleback or fipple figure, which runs over the entire area of the veneer. This figure is mostly found in Makore and Anigre veneer.

book matching or book matched

Method used to join veneers, in which consecutive veneer sheets are glued together with alternating front and rear side in order to obtain mirror-inverted squence.

broken fiddle

The fiddle type figure that does not cross the whole width of the veneer leaf that givies an appearance of a broken figure effect.

broken stripe

This is a modification of the ribbon stripe. Due to the twisted grain the ribbon stripe is not continuous and is short or broken.


1. Raised spot or area with faulty gluing (see also blister)

2. Light-coloured natural wood discoloration, round or oval shaped.

buckle or buckling

It is mostly stresses in the wood that lead to wavy or buckled veneers. If the buckling is extreme, the veneer can break when pressed.


Bundles or packs are a group of veneer sheets generally containing 12, 16, 24 or 32 consecutive leaves depending on the veneer thickness.

burr figure

Figure or pattern of veneers, made from burrs. Burrs grow above the ground (Oak, Ash, Elm) or as a root burr under the ground (Madrona, Myrtle, Vavona, Californian Walnut). Partially figured burrs and logs are called Half-Burr or Clusters.

burl or burr

A large woody excrescence with curly grain on a trunkor round log. When rotary cut it supplies characteristic burr or burl veneer with swirling grain around clusters or rings or eyes. Burl leaves are generally smaller that other veneer leaves. Some burl grow above ground like Elm, Ash, Oak and some develop below ground in the root (called also root burl or root burr) like Californian Walnut, Madrone, Vavona or Myrtle. The appearance is highly decorative.


The bottom end of a log or veneer frequently featuring coarse annual ring development and undesired color variations cuased by its rootstock.


cathedral structure

A specific structure by a series of stacked "V" and inverted "V" shapes. This grain pattern is common to flat cut or plain sliced veneer.


Disease in European Oak, which causes structural faults in the veneer, in advanced stage appears as an open defect. It is very difficult to recognize in the bark.

center matching or center matched

A matching method with a joint down the midpoint or center line and equal number of veneer sheets on each side of the center line producing a perfectly centered and balanced appearance. The number of leaves on the panel/face is always even, but the widths are not necessarily the same. Often considered the most visually pleasing match, it is more expensive and the trimming and centering requires more veneer than other matches.

chatter marks

Deviation in veneer thickness caused by vibration of the veneer block on the slicing machine, an incorrect pressure setting on the slicing machine or an incorrect setting on the sander. The resulting marks on the veneer leaves are regularly distributed cross-running stripes.

checking or checks

Small slits or cracks in the wood, which follow the annual ring, caused by strains produced in seasoning.  The parts of the log with this defect are not suitable for producing veneer and lumber.


An only partly grained logs that has scattered clusters of burl intermingled with a "muscle" figure surrounding the clusters. Cluster figure is produced by half-round cutting veneer.

coarse texture

The annual ring structure of quickly grown trunks, which produces an unwanted coarse figure in veneer.

comb grain

A quality of rift veneer with exceptionally straight grain and closely spaced growth increments.

condensate or precipitation

Yellowish looking liquid forming on the surface of the veneer as a result of too rapid or too hot drying.

cross fire

Figures extending across the grain as mottle, fiddle-back, raindrop and figer-roll are often calles cross figure or cross fire. A pronounced cross fire adds greatly to the beauty of the veneer.


Veneer layer, which is glued at right angles to the grain of the top layers of a plywood board.


A type of figure or a grain irregularity resembling a dip in the grain running at right angles to the length of the veneer.


The veneer grain runs horizontal.

crotches and buttresses

Typical figure of the veneer made from a branch fork where the main trunk branches out into two or more limbs. The more exactly the Crotch (Y) or Buttress is formed, the higher the value of the veneer (also called pyramid figure). This cut prduces highly figured wood grain patterns that are dense through the middle and produce a sistinctive plume-like or feathery pattern that is highly sought after. This is very common in Mahogany and less common in Walnut or ohter species.

crown veneer

A name for veneer that has been sliced tangentially from a log and has an oval or arched figure or pattern.

curly figure

An ornamental figure in the wood due to the fibers being distorted and producing irregular wavy or curly effects in the veneer. Many species develop a curly figure, but Maple is the most common.


Type of processing through the stay log machine. Also called eccentric peeling.



The separation of the layers of veneer in a panel at the glueline , usually caused by moisture, mismanufacture or defective glue.


Colours in the veneers differing from the normal colour (for instance in Cherry green stripiness). It may be due to fungi or chemical action. In softwoods abnormal color, except "blueing" usually denotes decay. 

dryer marks or grid marks

Imprints of the dryer belts on the surface of the veneer, caused by faulty or improperly maintained dryer belts. They can cause difficulties during the surface treatment.



The part of the annual ring formed in spring.

edgebanding or edgeband

Thin strips of wood veneer designed to cover the exposed edges of any panel substrate.

end-grain cut or cross-cut

Across or perpendicular to the trunk axis.



The pores can only be recognised with a microscope, e.g. in Maple, Pear, Cherry, Birch, Beech, Elm (also called microporous, small-pored, fine-grained, close-grained, fine-textured). These woods have a uniform figure.


Irregular veneer figure, which is mostly unwanted.


Individual figure markings, mostly starting from branches, are called Flash, also called Flares or Stria.

flat cut or crown cut

Also called back-sawn, tangential section, plain cut or slash cut.

flitch or block

Name for a log or part of a log in the log or veneer form (also called veneer log, flitch, log segment).


Bottom end of log in roundwood or veneer, frequently characterised by coarse annual rings and unwanted colour variations, coming from rootstock.


Coloured changes to the end grains of a log or the entire log if it is stored too long. Is facilitated by direct sunlight or excessive dryness. To prevent foxiness from occurring, the log is either waxed at the end grains or is sprinkled with water.

frieze or rift

Striped veneer match without "figuring" (Rift or Comb Grain). Veneers made from quartered logs.



Black, spotted inclusions in Black Cherry veneer, which can jump from one veneer sheet to another.



Fine hair-like stains or patches, which occur especially in Pear and Maple, which can be spread over the entire surface of the veneer and are considered to reduce the quality.


Term used to describe wood with higher density. Usually the wood of deciduous trees.

heart or heartwood

1. The heart or centre axis of the tree (also called stem axis or log axis).

2. Inner part of the trunk cross-section, which has a different colour to normal veneer.

hartwood crack or heart shake

Stress cracks (radial end shake) originating in the middle of the trunk (pith). The location of the heartwood crack is decisive in dividing the log for slicing. Heartwood cracks in the veneer are open and cannot be veneered.

horizontal slicing machine

Slicing machine in which the log/blade movement is horizontal.



Decorations made from veneer or other materials (e.g. metal or mother of pearl) which are laid in or glued onto wood, very expensive and is used in craft trades.

inlay banding

A plain coloured or patterned veneer strip, which is used for decorative edges.

inlay borders

Fine veneer strips (also called inlay strips, inlay banding), inserted to subdivide or separate areas of veneer.




Small, round or oval, solid deformed buds of branches.



The part of the annual ring, which grows during the last part of the growth period, i.e. after the spring (also called summerwood).


Section of a tree suitable for veneer or sawing.



Inlaid work made by joining together small pieces of veneer to form decorative patterns or pictures.


The joining of consecutive veneer sheets from a pack (flitch) or an entire log to form a larger veneer area (face) is called veneer matching. Because of their direct, consecutive order, the veneer sheets have approximately the same figure.

mature wood trees

Do not have a coloured core, but their wood in the core is significantly lower in water content than in the outer layer (Pine, Spruce, Beech, Lime).


Dark stains or inclusions in the wood, especially in American Oak.


Veneer sheets of different thickness, or partially different thickness veneers. Mis-sliced sheets are unavoidable. Up to 5 % of a veneer delivery may be mis-sliced.

mould stain

Mould stains seen as discolouration in the veneer.



open defect

Defect in the veneer, which forms holes, wormholes, gaps, voids, loose knots, knotholes, areas of rot or open heartwood cracks (heart shake). All open defects have to be removed during processing unless required. Solid knots are not considered open defects.


The pores are large and can be seen with the naked eye, e.g. in Oak, Ash, Walnut, Elm. These woods have a vivid figure.

outer veneer

Better quality veneer, which is used for the visible top layers (faces) of a workpiece.



Cut packs of veneer, mostly bundled into packs of 16, 24 or 32 sheets or leaves, which contain consecutive veneer sheets. Usually the smallest sales unit (also called flitch, bundle, packet, parcel).

panel length

Lengths of round wood (round timber) and veneers between 2.55 m und 3.30 m, which are required by the panel industry.


A quantity of veneers prepared for customers, often sorted and assembled with uniform qualities.

parquet marquetry

A similar process to marquetry. However, here the veneer is cut into geometric shapes, which are joined to form decorative mosaic patterns.


Figure and colouring of the veneer match.

peeled veneer

Term used to described veneers made with a specific type of production


Black pin knots in Yew or European Beech veneers, which produce the typical figure of the Yew veneer. The more pepper and the more regular it is distributed over the surface, the higher the quality of the veneer.

piano egg

A sought after layup of the pattern in the Flamed figure packs. Is required for the fronts and piano lids.

pin branch

Small, mostly very hard branch, which results in slicing nicks. Especially in European Maple.

pin knot

Fine, overgrown tiny pin knot (bole sprout), which is very difficult to see on the bark. Appears in the end grain cut as a black mark running across the surface.

pith (medulla)

Starting point of the annual rings located in the middle of the tree trunk, brown colour.


Relatively large cells of deciduous trees. They are more or less visible in the cross-section as round or oval openings and in the longitudinal cut as pore grooves or needle cracks. Their size, number and distribution is species specific.


quarter matching or four-way matching

Method especially common for burl figured (masur) veneer, in order to produce highly decorative areas and figures (fancy pattern, patterned figure). Four consecutive veneer sheets are matched twice and folded up once.


radial veneer

A type of peeled veneer, which is produced by tapered peeling of the end of the log. The method is similar to that of sharpening pencils.

reaction wood

Anomalous wood tissue, which has a negative effect on the useful value of the wood. The compression wood of the coniferous trees can be recognised by its high proportion of dark coloured latewood. The tension wood of the deciduous trees appears with a lightly silver shine.

resin pockets or galls

Pockets of resin inclusion in resinous coniferous trees, which can cause open areas in the veneer and therefore reduce the quality.

rift cut

= radial cut. The cut runs along the medulla rays and perpendicular to the annual rings. The cut surface appears striped.

ring pores

Deciduous wood with conspicuous annual rings.

root figure

Figure in which the Burr (Burl/Masur) forms on the root. The knot is located either entirely or partly under the ground. Root knots are found in, e.g.: Myrtle, Walnut, Maple, Vavona.


Overgrown knot or branch, which leaves behind a clearly visible feature in the bark. The earlier the tree threw off the knot or branch, the more difficult it is to identify this feature in the bark.

round trunk veneer

The presentation of veneers, which are laid up in the form of the original trunk.



The outer, light-coloured part of the wood between the bark and heartwood. In heartwoods different colour of the sapwood. The sapwood is usually cut off for veneers. In the case of several wood species, e.g. Palisander and European Walnut, the sapwood is used for decorative purposes.

sawn (saw-cut) veneer

Veneers made by sawing a log into thicknesses from 4 to 12 mm.

sheet quantity

The number of sheets or leaves of veneer in a pack.


The reduction in the dimensions of wood (and accordingly of veneer also) when moisture is given off.

silver figures

Depending on the cutting angle used for slicing, the cells of the medullar rays become visible in different ways. Visual interruption in the overall pattern, which is desirable in several wood species, e.g. Plane tree. Particularly marked in Oak.

single packs

Packs of veneer taken out of the regular sequence of a log, so that they no longer match, mostly low qualities or friezes.

sliced veneer

Term used to described veneers made with a specific type of production.

slicing nick

A diagonal notch across the veneer sheet caused by a damaged knife. Typical slicing error, which calls into question further use of the veneer.

slip matching

Method of joining veneers in which the consecutive veneer sheets are glued only with the front side.


Term used to describe wood with low density. Usually coniferous trees. However, there are also soft deciduous trees, such as Poplar or Alder.


General name for dark, solid colour changes that have formed. Depending on the wood species and cause, a differentiation is made between gum, hairs, resin pockets, bark ingrowth, sugar, etc. Also called spatter or spots.

spiral grain

Spiral growth of a tree, which is caused by external effects, e.g. wind. Severe spiral grain can cause matching problems because the annual rings detach from each other and leave open spaces, which is why they are mostly sawn.

stress crack

Different growth zones and growth speeds (weather side) in a trunk cause density differences to occur, which can cause stresses in the roundwood (log). If the tree is felled, stress cracks can occur, which call into question its suitability for veneer. Problem especially in Beech.


More or less clear different coloured stripes, mostly considered to reduce the quality. Above all, familiar in European Oak.


Bottom end of a trunk / log (also called stub).


The substrate material onto which the veneer is attached.


The increase in dimensions of wood (and accordingly of veneer also) when moisture is absorbed as a result of storage of water in the cell wall.



Zones formed by irregular annular ring build-up in coniferous trees, which are particularly hard and therefore cause difficulties during veneering (compression wood, pressure wood, glassy wood, redwood, hard streaks, bullwood).

thick cut

Veneers that are produced in thicknesses different to those specified in the DIN standard. The normal thicknesses are 0.9 mm, 1.2 mm, 1.5 mm, 2.0 mm and 2.5 mm.

thickness of veneer

In Europe thicknesses between 0.5 and 0.65 mm are usual. In Asia the veneers used are mostly between 0.2 and 0.3 mm thick. In general, veneers that are 1 to 3 mm thick are called thick cut.

toughness or viscosity

In irregularly grown or highly stressed trunks, buckling or waviness of the veneers. Can also be seen as darker colouring along the annual rings.

tractor tracks

Typical block formation, especially in Beech; is usually thought to reduce the quality.

true quarter

Production technology of sliced veneers.

trunk figure or log figure

Burr figure log in which the burr is formed above-ground on the trunk. Such figures are: Oak, Ash, Poplar, Elm.


Thickness fluctuations caused by vibration of the veneer block on the slicing machine or incorrect pressure setting at the machine, which are regularly spread across the veneer sheet as cross-wise stripes.


utility grade veneer

Lowest quality category of veneers, which are mostly used as cross-band veneers or for areas that are not visible. Also called backing grade. Can also be sold by weight.


variegated figure

Irregular veneer match, intensity mostly dependent on incident light. Caused by different growth anomalies, which cause irregular figure.

veneer sheet

Irregular veneer match, intensity mostly dependent on incident light. Caused by different growth anomalies, which cause irregular figure.

vertical slicing machine

Slicing machine in which the log/blade movement is vertical.


wavy or wavy figure

Ribboning running in a direction across the tree axis in a tangential direction, with wavy fibre and annual ring development. Produces an irregular veneer match (see Variegated figure, Flake) (also called Curly figure).

wild figure

Irregular figure which changes direction and makes the wood difficult to machine.


A name for wide-ringed (coarse-grown, coarse-grained) wood with large pores.


Very fine blade nicks, which disappear when the surface of the veneer is sanded and therefore do not impair the veneer (also called burr).

wood defects

Very fine blade nicks, which disappear when the surface of the veneer is sanded and therefore do not impair the veneer (also called burr).

wood rays

Also called medullar rays. Cell tissue, radial in the cross-section of the tree which, depending on the cutting direction, is visible as lines, stripes or stria (Flake).



yellow gum

Yellowy brown flecks in American Black Cherry, which are considered to reduce the quality, as they are still visible after surface treatment.