Decorative Veneer Print E-mail
Timber veneers are produced by either slicing or peeling a much larger piece of timber into thin slices or veneers.

Rotary cut or peeled veneer is obtained by centering a log and then rotating the log against a long knife edge, so that the veneer comes away from the knife in a long ribbon. The ribbon can later be cut into suitable widths and lengths for processing.

Sliced veneer is sliced from either the whole log or from segments of the log. When the whole log is sliced, the width of each veneer increases slightly as the slicing process nears the centre of the log. This change in width can also occur when segments of the log are sliced.

Veneers that are required for the production of products such as plywood and LVL are usually sliced or peeled to a thickness up to about 3 mm. Decorative veneers however are usually peeled or sliced to thicknesses of about .03 to 0.6 mm and are sliced or peeled to take the best advantage of the figure or grain of the timber.

Decorative veneers are used as a surface veneer on reconstituted timber products such as particle board or MDF which do not have an attractive grain or figure. Decorative veneers also used as a face veneer on other timber products such as plywood. This means that the plywood can be made from timber which has little or no attractive grain or figure, and the decorative veneer provides an attractive surface which will add to the decor of the room.

Whilst the timber used to produce the veneers and decorative veneers is a natural and a renewable resource, the use of decorative veneers as face veneers is a most economical way of utilising those species which are regarded as precious or expensive timbers. The surface coverage provided by a decorative veneer of 0.6 mm in thickness is approximately forty times more than that provided by the same volume of solid timber of 25 mm in thickness.

The production of decorative veneers allows decorative effects that are not always possible in solid timber. By appropriate slicing the decorative effect can be matched and repeated a number of times. Quite often, irregular growths in a log can provide attractively figured veneer but would make any solid timber sawn from the same part of the log almost worthless because of the drying problem associated with the irregular growth. Careful edge joining of the veneers can provide quite large panels that appear to be of one piece but with a repeated pattern.

The most commonly produced patterns are:

Veneer cut from this part of the log produce leaves with crown pattern with some straight grain either side.

As the crown cut moves through the log towards the centre, the leaves become wider with the crown being narrower and more well defined, with wider straight grain sections on either side.

Quarter (false)Quarter (false)
The veneer produced is generally straight grain material, often with a slight swing where the faulty part of the heart of the log has been removed.

Quarter (true)Quarter (true)
Leaves cut in this method produce fairly straight (parallel growth rings) grain patterns.

Veneer produced by this method has a non-descript swirl pattern.

This type of veneer is produced by peeling a log which has been centred on a lathe.

However, other categories exist to highlight specific features such as:

Two examples of Birds Eye Maple
Two examples of Birds Eye Maple

Figure in veneer exhibiting numerous rounded areas resembling small eyes.

Two examples of Madrona Burl
Two examples of Madrona Burl

Abnormal growth producing tightly packed buds and knots producing highly decorative veneer that mostly appear as rings and dots.

Figured Anegre and Figured Makore
Figured Anegre and Figured Makore

The markings, often forming wavy shimmering patterns, these may be regular or irregular ranging from fiddleback to block figure.

Two examples of Flame Mahogany
Two examples of Flame Mahogany

Otherwise known as curl or crotches. This veneer is from the fork in a tree and the pattern resembles a flame.

Pommele Makore and Pommele Sapele
Pommele Makore and Pommele Sapele

A scalloped figure, most usually found in mahogany.

Quilted Maple and Quilted Bubinga
Quilted Maple and Quilted Bubinga

Blistered appearance shimmering scalloped pattern.

Reconstructed veneers
Crown Cut Pattern and Birds Eye Pattern
Crown Cut Pattern and Birds Eye Pattern

Reconstructed Veneers are sliced from a laminated timber block made from various wood species, dyed throughout and glued together under pressure in parallel configuration. Being made out of natural timber, it should be treated like any other veneer during the manufacturing process of joinery work.

One of the perceived benefits of reconstructed veneers is the consistency in colour and grain of the veneer. Within block lots, there is generally acceptable consistency of colour, with some subtle grain differences. Due to batch dyeing, there can be small colour variance from block to block.

As reconstructed veneers are man made, they generally come in defined lengths. The veneers commonly available in Australia are 2500mm and 2800mm in length, but for specific veneers, refer to your supplier.

Assessment of Solid Timber, Plywood, & Timber Veneers to Spec. C1.10a
(PDF, 0.3 MB)
Warrington Fire Research (RIR 45892.1)
This report is an assessment of the Fire Hazard Performance of solid timber, plywood and timber veneers on MDF and Particleboard substrates for use as wall and ceiling linings in accordance with the requirements of specification C1.10a of the Building Code of Australia.
Assessment of Timber Floor, Wall & Ceiling Linings to Spec. C1.10a
(PDF, 0.1 MB)
Warrington Fire Research (SFR 41117.2)
Timber in Buildings - Internal Fit-Out
(PDF, 0.1 MB)
Australian Timber Importers Federation
Decorative Wood Veneers Association
Information about matching techniques, specifications and availability of veneer in Australasia (adapted from the Veneer Product Information Manual). The website also lists veneer suppliers across Australia.
Uniquely Veneer
The Uniquely Veneer website provides information about Australia's local and imported veneers. It aims to help everyone understand the natural advantages of wood veneers and their positive contribution to reducing the effects of climate change.