What is veneer?

Timber veneer is a decorative building material comprising thin slices of timber glued onto wooden board, particle board or fibreboard. It has been favoured by builders and designers since ancient times as the finest and most efficient use of the valuable timbers.

Veneer is produced as a thin layer of timber that is uniform in thickness. The veneer is normally between 0.5 and 0.85mm thick in Australia and New Zealand.

Timber veneer is from a natural and renewable resource competing with non-renewable commodities like steel, aluminium and plastics.

The surface coverage of veneer is approximately forty times more than 25mm timber, which makes it the most economical way of utilising precious wood. One cubic metre of log produces around 1,000 square metres of real timber in veneer form. No other form of woodworking material results in such an efficient use with minimal wastage. 

Some of the benefits of using real timber in veneer form include:

A design collaboration with nature
The natural variation of timber means every log, and therefore every project, is individual. No two veneers are exactly alike. The ‘fingerprints’ of nature lift your designs above what is achievable with man-made alternatives. You can choose from a vast array of timber species, colours, and grains. The final veneer finish is virtually identical to solid timber.

The warmth and depth of timber
Timber veneers add natural warmth and ambience to projects and is gentle to the touch.

Prestige and versatility
Timber veneer is a sought-after, premium decorative finish that adds prestige and style to furniture and joinery. Timber veneers can be moulded to fit many shapes, and when adhered to a stable commodity substrate, provided the versatility of solid timber, our oldest, yet most modern material

Maximises nature’s resources
Each metre of timber typically provides around 1,000 slices of timber veneer, making it a highly efficient and sustainable use of wood

Ecologically sensible solution
Timber veneer is a 100% natural product and not made from petro-chemicals. The industry is committed to sustainable forest resources.

One cubic metre of log produces around 1,000 square metres of real timber in veneer form


Veneer is produced by slicing or peeling logs. It is sliced at approximately 0.6mm (this is normal thickness for the Australian market) or can be peeled at various thicknesses.

Several cut methods are used to create various wood grain patterns. The most commonly produced grains are: Crown, Quarter, and Rotary. However, other cuts exist and highlight specific features such as Birdseye, Quiltes, Pommele or Burl/Burr.


The pattern seen on the surface of a veneer is known as the ‘figure’. It is determined by a log’s natural features or the way the flitch (piece of log) is cut. 

Natural features 
The frequency of growth rings, the colour tone variations between earlywood and latewood, deviations from natural grain (wavy, curly or interlocked grain), medullary rays, markings and pigments in the wood structure, and burls or curls.


Birdseye figure can be seen on back-cut surfaces of certain species (commonly Maple) as numerous rounded areas resembling small eyes. It is caused by small conical depressions of the growth rings accompanied by considerable fibre distortions.

Block Mottle

An irregular variegation in the wood structure having broad cross markings, broken by variations in strip that shows as blocky patches across the grain of the veneer. Commonly found in Makore and Anegre.


Where the roots form into the solid stump there can be considerable distortion into wavy ripple marks – there is always the distorted grain figure, along with greater or lesser amounts of the wavy cross figure.

Burl / Burr

Large abnormal wart like growths on trees produce some of the most prized veneers. Burl veneers display an attractive pattern of tightly packed bud formations that appear as rings and dots and result in an attractive and unusual figure whichever way it is cut. Leaf sizes are generally small and burl veneer is difficult to work.


Cluster figure are veneers that are mostly figured but with clusters or patches of burl.


Found mostly in North American Maple or Birch, curly figure occurs when the fibres are distorted producing a small but strong irregular undulation in the veneer.


This figure is similar to curly except the strong but fine undulations are regular. When quarter cut the wavy patterns appear as lustrous bars across the veneer leaf. The wood gets its name from its historical use for violin backs.

Flame / Curl / Crotch

Revealed when a trunk or heavy branch with two forking branches is cut through its collective centre, this highly prized veneer cut is from just below the fork of a tree.


A variegated pattern that consists principally of irregular, wavy fibres extending for short distances across the face, with some irregular cross figure in twisted interwoven grain resulting in a broken, stripe figure.


Resembles a puddle surface during a light rain. A dense pattern of small rings enveloping one another, perhaps even a ‘suede’ or ‘furry’ look usually found in extremely large trees of African species like Sapele, Bubinga, and Makore. Some domestic species with a sparser, larger figure are referred to as ‘blistered’.


Resembles a larger, more exaggerated version of pommele figure – the cellular figure is elongated and closely crowded giving it a shimmering, pillowy, 3D effect. Commonly found in Maple, Mahogany, Moabi, and Sapele.


Produced by quarter slicing timber that has interlocked grain i.e. the angle of the fibres periodically changes or reverses in successive layers, resulting in a straight, uniform, stripy effect – common in almost all timber with a wide variety of character.


A figure caused by irregular grain in the region of a knot the grain tends to swirl around in a random pattern.