The Face of Wood Doors – Wood Veneer 101

Historically, veneering is an ancient art, dating back to the ancient Egyptians who used veneers on their furniture and sarcophagi. The wood grain look can be accomplished without using pure wood.  Today, veneer is used to replace the need of a full piece of lumber, especially when designing wood doors for commercial use, because it is a more cost effective. The use of veneer allows the wood from one tree to spread much further.

The door’s veneer made up of thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm (1/8 inch). These slices typically are glued onto core panels to produce flat panels or the face of the door.  The inside of the door on which the veneer is glued is made from wood, particleboard or medium-density fiberboard. Veneer beading is a thin layer of decorative edging placed around the edge of the door.

Veneer is obtained either by “peeling” the trunk of a tree or by slicing large rectangular blocks of wood known as flitches. The appearance of the grain and figure in wood comes from slicing through the growth rings of a tree. Different looks of wood are dependent upon the angle at which the wood is sliced. There are four main types of veneer-making slices used commercially:

rotary cut pic

Rotary cut: The wood log is centered on the lathe and turned against a razor-sharp blade at a slight angle causing a thin slice to peel off in one continuous roll, like unwinding paper from a roll. A bold grain figure is produced, since this cut follows the log’s annual growth rings. This cut produces exceptionally wide cuts, therefore making veneer joints difficult to match.

quarter slicing pic

Quarter Slicing:  The quarter log or flitch is mounted on the guide plate with the growth rings against the knife at approximately a right angle which produces a series of strips. This creates a straight grain appearance in most, but it varies in others.

plain slicing

Plain/flat Slicing: By slicing parallel to the center of the log, a raised “cathedral effect” is formed by the innermost growth rings. This produces a figure similar to that of a plain sawn lumber.

rift cut

Rift Cut:  This straight grain cut is produced by slicing red or white oak at a slight angle across the log’s rings. This type of cut minimizes the irregularities in the wood.

Dependent on the tree type, each slicing process gives a unique type of grain. However, a distortion of the grain can occur with any of the veneer slicing methods.

3 thoughts on “The Face of Wood Doors – Wood Veneer 101

  1. Amazingly narrated post! Previously I don’t had any idea about Veneer .I am an avid fan of antique doors and recently purchased vintage doors with a modern touch from at affordable prices. Thank you for the share!

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