Veneer Cuts: More than Meets the Eye

There is a lot more to cutting a wood veneer than may first meet the eye. Veneer cuts are, without a doubt, an art form that has been perfected by expert craftspeople over many years. They are designed to bring out the very best of the grain and texture of different species of timber.

In veneer woodworking, a range of cutting techniques are used, each of which results in unique aesthetics that can be used in a variety of applications, in both commercial and domestic settings.

It is quite amazing to see how different veneer cuts influence the overall look and appeal of the various timber species.

Quarter cut oak, for example, can look quite different to oak burr, and straight cut American walnut very different to the same timber in crown cut.

Veneer cuts – the different veneer cutting techniques explained

Veneer experts will assess the primary timber before deciding upon which cutting method will be the most effective in bringing out the personality of the wood and making the most of individual burrs and types of grain.

The timber species to be used, the size of the final product and the final desired effect are all factors to be considered.

Some of the most popular and well-used veneer cuts include:

Flat cut / sliced

Most decorative veneers will be flat cut or sliced. This veneer cut method involves passing a blade straight over the length of the log, from one end to the other. Veneers cut this way will show the crown. This could display itself in a number of ways, from a rational pattern, such as ‘cathedral crown’ which resembles cathedral windows, to a wilder form that looks a lot more random and untamed.

Veneers cut in this way are kept in sequence, so that streamlined veneer matching can be achieved.

Quarter cut

From time to time, a straighter grain is preferred. Quarter cutting can achieve this. The log is sawn into four, with each quarter mounted on the knife at an appropriate angle so that the blade slices across the annual growth rings.

The straightness of the grain will depend on the unique characteristics of the tree, so logs for quarter cutting will be specially selected for purpose.


Rotary cut

Rotary cut veneers reveal the unique growth patterns that are found around the outside of the log. Some veneers, such as Bird’s Eye Maple, are only ever rotary cut so as to fully showcase their natural beauty.

The log is rotated against the blade of the knife, with the veneer peeling off like a roll of paper.

Rift cut

A variation of rotary veneer cutting, rift cutting involves first dividing the log lengthways into four. Each quarter is then mounted slightly off-centre before being rotated against the knife.

The results are similar to quarter cutting, although the natural stripes within the wood are a bit more prominent.

Other veneer cuts

Sometimes, logs are either too big or too small for certain cutting methods. For logs that are too big for flat cutting, a stay log machine is used which allows cutting from the inside out to produce an appealing crown grain effect.

For logs that are too small for flat cutting, the half round cut method is often used. This involves cutting the logs through the centre into two halves, with each half then being mounted on the stay log machine and rotated against the knife.

Finally, the stay log machine can also be used to cut burrs. The log is rotated against the knife so that larger sized burrs can be produced than with flat slicing.


To see more veneer cuts in action complete with videos, visit our veneer cuts page.

For expertise in veneer cuts, look to Read Veneers

With three decades of specialist industry experience, Read Veneers can offer all the expertise you need to the perfect veneer cut.

We welcome you to give us a call on 01277 811 771 or get in touch to discuss your project.