Wood Veneer is something we frequently specify in the interior design industry. In fact, most products we specify - both casegoods as well as upholstery - incorporate this type of wood layering into their pieces.
Veneer has often been discussed with sour connotation but is actually quite beautiful and durable, when done properly that is. According to the American Woodworking Institute Standards (AWI) their are four common practices for supplying veneer from a log - Rotary Cut, Rift Cut, Quartersawn (or Sliced), and Plain Sliced. All of the cuts produce different wood grain directions and patterns, and vary in price since production is different for each cut.
I've got to tell you, although Quatersawn is probably the most common type of wood cut or veneer and looks great on hardwoods, I personally love the look of Rotary Cut products. Take a look at the different types of wood veneers in the diagrams below, definitions provided by Form Wood and Interior Design Department.
Quartersawn or Sliced Veneer
The quarter log is mounted on the flitch [a piece of timber cut lengthways from a tree trunk] table so that the growth rings of the log strike the knife at approximately right angles, producing a series of stripes. These stripes vary in width, density and thickness from species to species. A natural distribution of ray flake is a characteristic of this cut in red and white oak. Quarter Sawn wood can be produced with many wood species and has a linear grain outcome.
Plain Sliced Veneer
The half log, or flitch, is mounted with the heart side flat against the flitch table of the slicer and the slicing is done parallel to a line through the center of the log. Cathedral and straight grain patterns result.
Rift Cut Veneer
The cut slices slightly across the medullary [the inner core of the log] rays, accentuating the vertical grain and minimizing its flaky appearance [on the veneer]. Rift grain is restricted to red and white oak. (via Form Wood)
Rotary Cut Veneer
The log is center mounted on a lathe [A machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive that turns the worked-on piece] and “peeled” along the general path of the growth rings like unwinding a roll of paper, providing a generally bold random appearance. The log is mounted centrally in the lathe and turned against a razor sharp blade. Since this cut follows the log's annual growth rings, a bold variegated grain marking is produced. Rotary cut veneer is exceptionally wide.
What are your favorite wood cuts?