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Veneer Basics pg 4
Types of veneer cuts are determined by how and where the veneer is cut from the tree.
The process of cutting the veneer from the log, varies depending upon the pattern desired, the log
itself, where from the tree it's being cut, and even the type of tree. Patterns will be amazingly different with
each cutting technique. Prior to being cut, the debarked logs will be soaked in hot water, or steamed for several
days. Typically, the logs are actually stored in water, to keep them from drying out and cracking.
Veneer cuts include Rotary, which is basicaly peeling the veneer from the log,
much like a roll of paper towels. This is how sheets of plywood are made, as it's an inexpensive technique. Certain
patterns can only be produced by using this method. (Birds Eye Maple, for example).
The next would be Plain Sliced, which is cutting the veneer with a band saw, or
knife, and produces different patterns as it gets closer to the center of the log. It has the same look as solid
lumber, just thinner.
Plain sliced is the method used to produce crotch veneer, stump, burl and butt.
Crotch is cut from where the trunk branches. The pattern created from there is much like a
flame or fern. A very desirable pattern, and a premium is charged for them. Stump veneer is
cut from the section of tree near the ground. The weight of the tree creates some beautiful patterns, in this area.
Lower yet are the Butt cuts. This are cut at the root line, and again are quite dramatic in
the patterns created.
Burls are the growths seen on the sides of trees, much like a wart. These
too, are a source of incredible veneers. All of these patterned veneers are priced with a premium, as they are not
as common as those cut from "regular logs". The photos below are an immense burl.
There are many names for the various figures found in veneers. To name just a few, there are
Quilted, Spalted, Birds Eye, Ropey, Flame, Fiddleback, Wormy, Mottled, Waterfall, Turtle Shell. The list goes on
and on. I sometimes wonder if some of the Vendors just make up the names!
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