Exotic Wood Veneers – Spotlight on Unusual Species

Quality wood veneers are expertly cut from a variety of species of trees to achieve different grains, effects, colours and contrasts. Here at Read Veneers, we use an array of species, including exotic wood veneers, so that we can offer something to suit every taste and application.

The choice of tree species that are suitable for quality veneers is wide, each offering a different finish. We use all the popular varieties of species that you would expect, including oak, beech, mahogany, maple and walnut, but the choice is far from limited to those.

There are thousands of species of tree that work well as veneers and that you may wish to offer your clients. Exotic species tend to work well for high end interior design, especially in kitchens, bedrooms and washrooms.

To help you get a feel for some of the more outlandish veneers, we are putting the spotlight on some of the more unusual choices of species for your inspiration.

From left to right:

American Walnut

This is a beautiful veneer which has a lovely warmth to it, often with yellow or purple-brown hues. American walnut logs are mostly straight-grained, occasionally with a wave and normally flat cut which results in a good deal of material suitable for crown cutting, perfect for high spec interior joinery and high end furniture.

Olive Ash

Maturing ash trees will sometimes develop a brown hued heart. The veneer that comes from this is called the Olive Ash and occasionally you’ll get a striking ripple figure. When the white wood bordering the heartwood is left on the veneer, an eye-catching two tone effect is achieved.

Malaysian Tigerwood

 This is a highly desirable veneer sporting a warm red-brown hue with almost black lines throughout. Rift cutting accentuates the stripy effect, which gives this veneer its name. It’s an excellent choice for distinctive furniture.


 This is an exotic species that resembles rosewood. It’s extremely heavy and usually grey-brown to dark brown with irregular streaking in a darker shade, giving the effect of an almost three dimensional surface. A stunning effect can be achieved by incorporating the light creamy hued sapwood. Something truly special for handcrafted cabinetry and interior joinery.

Burr Veneers

Burrs, or burls, are wart-like protrusions or knots which, when cut to make wood veneers, create spectacular patterns.

Burr veneers are infamously difficult to work with, but with the right expertise, the results are extremely stunning. Examples are amboyna burr, oak burr, olive ash burr, camphor burr, chestnut burr, elm burr and magnolia burr.

Amboyna-burr exotic wood veneers
Amboyna Burr

Amboyna burr, pictured in red, is commonly mistaken for walnut burr. It is a heavily burred wood that is part of the Pterocarpus genus and is most commonly obtained from the Narra Tree, native to Southeastern Asia, Northern Australasia and the Western Pacific Ocean islands. It’s a moderately hard wood, resistant to wear and marring, and is considered one of the world’s rarest and most expensive veneers, chosen by Rolls Royce as the original wood used for its dashboards.

Olive ash burr exotic wood veneers
Olive Ash Burr

Olive ash burr is a very popular and highly characterful veneer. Harvested from mature ash trees, which often develop ornamental brown heartwood, the timber is much admired for its swirling patterns and warm tones, with darker ribbons of dense brown. Olive ash burr grows in the UK, Europe, Asia Minor, Africa and the Arctic Circle.

Camphor Burr exotic wood veneers
Camphor Burr

Camphor burr grows in tropical and subtropical climes, and the veneer is created by abnormal growth stemming from injury or irritation which forms an interwoven, contorted mass of dense, woody tissue from which the veneers are harvested. The grain can be straight or wavy, and will sometimes bear dark streaks. The wood is often fragrant with camphor, anise oil or other scents.

Exotic wood veneers from Read Veneers

These are just a very small selection of the exotic species available at Read Veneers in Essex. We can help you choose the perfect natural wood veneer for your project from the extensive collection we have access to, and will work with you to select the most effective cut and matching technique for the ultimate in design effect.

Whether you’re creating a unique, one-off kitchen, bathroom or washroom for a client, are looking to fit out a high end retail or commercial interior, or have a need for a large run of matching veneer finishes, we have the expertise, experience and capacity to help.

Get in touch to talk through your project. or take a browse through our A-Z list of real wood veneers.