A GLOSSARY OF PANEL TERMINOLOGY
Picture yourself reading a book, but the page is a thin sheet of hardwood that splits as you turn the page. Every other strip of veneer is turned over, producing a “mirror image” or “open book” effect at the veneer joint.
Rotary Sliced (aka Rotary Cut)
The entire log is mounted on a lathe and turned into long knife blades that slice very large sheets of thin veneers off, matching the growth rings of the tree. This produces variable grain patterns. These veneers are sorted, setting aside the high-quality large sheets for whole-piece faces and the remainder is then cut into narrower strips for different types of spliced veneers.
Whole-Piece Face (WPF)
Rotary-sliced veneer producing one continuous sheet that covers a broad area, including a sheet, or a series of sheets.
Sequence-Matched and Numbered (SM&N)
Take those Whole-Piece Face veneers that have been sliced one after the other from the same log and make panels from them. Keep those panels in order (the Sequence) and number them. You’ve got SM&N! Very limited by size of the logs, species, etc., but highly desirable to serve a discerning design aesthetic.
Each strip of veneer is laid side-by-side without flipping over. This creates a repetitive grain pattern.
Random strips of varying width laid together to cover the whole sheet. Variable grain results, some straight, some cathedral, etc..
Like plain-sawn lumber, this is the most efficient way to produce veneers from a log. Veneers are sliced along the growth rings, leaving minimal waste. Plain-slicing produces striking cathedral grain as well as some straight-grain looks.
Rift Sawn (aka Rift Cut)
The log is quartered and slices are taken off at 15 degrees to the radius of the log. This produce a straight-grained (comb grain) appearance. In most species, Rift-sawing and Quarter-sawing will produce similar results. In red oak and, especially, white oak, however, rift-sawing avoids the flakes (“figure”) that we see in Quarter-sawn veneers. Rift-sawing is more time-consuming and low-yield, resulting in higher cost.
Similar to Rift-sawing, but the log is sliced perpendicular to the growth rings, producing a straight-grained look, but with considerable flake, especially in White Oak, which is highly prized. Both Quarter- and Rift-sawn flitches are narrower than plain-sawn.
Markings or patterns in veneers from knots, rays, growth rings, etc.
Aka “Fleck”, “Ray Fleck”. Distinct markings on the face of a board, created when the medullary rays inside of the log are sliced at an angle. Can appear as dashes, blotches, or long “feathering” or stretch-marks. All wood species have these medullary rays, but in most they are indistinguishable. In Red Oak and most remarkably White Oak, the figure and flake can be abundant and produce striking character.
Faces meet grading standards established by the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA), ex.: A1, C3, AA, AB.
Panels that have some defect. Many shop panels have minimal defects which can be cut around, producing considerable savings.
Substrates (cores) of Hardwood Plywood
(click HERE for a more thorough explanation)
Flat and consistent surfaces, heavy, does not hold screws well, structurally less stable
Very flat, stable, heavy, glues well, does not hold screws well
Available as either Domestic (superior) or Imported. Alternating thin “plies” of sliced wood, laid so that the grain is approximately 90 degrees to the veneer beneath it. Light, glues well, holds screws well. Can “transmit” grain through face veneers. What most people think of when they hear “plywood”.
Best of both worlds, known by a number of proprietary names. Thin MDF faces are sandwiched around a veneer-core center. Face veneers are then laid on the MDF. Very flat, lighter, good screw-holding, good gluing.