Akacio veneer is a little-known treasure from Central and South America. It has a lovely honey color, tan to brown lines, straight grain, and a medium texture. Against a fairly uniform background, this specie can produce a range of beautiful figures, including curly and fiddleback figures reminiscent of anegre or maple, and is an excellent, adaptable choice for a wide range of interior styles.
Alder is a warm honey-red colored wood with a beautiful, subtle grain interspersed with fine lines and flecks produced by the tree’s annual growth rings. Domestic alder grows in a mile mile wide coastal strip along the Pacific coast from Canada almost to Mexico; European alder along. The wood darkens to a warm reddish-brown color after being felled. Natural markings including pithy flecks and streaks add to the singular character to this wood.
Anegre has a lustrous sheen, an even texture, and grain that is typically straight, but may be interlocked, wavy, or marked with a wide range of beautiful shimmering figures. Sought after for its light creamy color, large logs, uniformity across flitches, and unobtrusive grain markings, anegre takes stain readily and is often dyed to resemble cherry, walnut, or other woods.
Ancient Norwegians considered a mythological ash tree to be the center of the world. Among the palest colored veneers, ash has a lustrous surface, beautiful straight grain, a light stripe effect, and subtle contrast between its light tan heartwood and creamy sapwood. It produces a wide range of beautiful, shimmering figures and delicate burls. Extremely strong, ash is the lumber of choice for parallel bars, baseball bats and tool handles. In veneer, it’s prized for high quality furniture and for use in light, open interiors.
Olive ash is not a specie in itself, rather it’s the name given to veneer cut from the dark heartwood of one of several European ashes. The dark on light stripes are reminiscent of true olive wood. Colors range from white to yellow to brown in varied combinations of color and markings. Grain may be straight, curly, or wavy. Olive ash burl veneer is highly prized for its turbulent markings and striking color contrasts.
Considered among the best veneers in the poplar family, aspen ranges in color from almost pure white to light straw to warm tan. Favored logs produce a lovely, bright veneer with a beautiful, natural sheen. Aspen is often fumed to a rich, dark brown for use in modern environments. It mixes beautifully with stone and other materials in natural environments.
A favorite in modern interiors, beech is a straight grained wood with a very fine, even texture. While beech is naturally a creamy, almost white color, most beech is steamed, producing a consistent slightly pink hue in veneer. Flat cut veneers present a nice cathedral; quartered veneers carry a silvery fleck pattern. This specie produces a number of beautiful figures prized for interior architecture.
Red birch is not actually a specie—but is rather veneer cut from the darker heartwood of the yellow birch tree. Rich reddish-brown in color (the sapwood is almost pure white), this veneer is a fine, versatile, and popular choice in architectural interiors. When figured, it typically presents a curly or mottle figure. Its smooth surface makes it well suited for applying stains and glossy finishes.
Among the whitest veneers, white birch is not actually a species, but is rather the sapwood of the yellow birch tree, selected specifically for its creamy white color. In the 50s, birch veneer was in its heyday—especially in home furniture—and is experiencing resurgence with the renewal of the modern aesthetic. A small tree (33’ on average), white birch produces smaller leaves than most trees. Its smooth surface makes it well suited for applying stains and glossy finishes.
Bubinga is a striking veneer with a very broad color spectrum ranging from pink to brownish-red to nearly violet. It has a beautiful texture and fine contrasting growth lines that may be wavy in some logs due to the grain’s interlocked fibers. Bee’s wing and block mottle figures are fairly common. Behemoth lengths and widths make it well suited for large architectural installations. When rotary cut, bubinga is called kevazinga. This African veneer is a sophisticated and elegant choice for interior environments.
Cerejiera is a South American wood particularly prized in crotch veneer—a figure that develops when two branches or trunks are knit together as they grow (sometimes called a plume or feather pattern). The pyramid-like pattern is lively, rich in contrast, and fascinating to behold. This rare veneer is sought after for high-end furniture and as a featured accent in architectural interiors
American cherry is a timeless and elegant veneer that has a satiny finish and fine, lustrous grain marked with natural pitch flecks and small gum pockets. Typically darker than European cherry, the veneer can vary widely in color from pale pink to reddish brown. Flat cut, it produces a beautiful cathedral pattern. Figured, it exhibits a fine fiddleback or rope figure.
Brought to Europe by invading Romans, chestnut loves the warmth and so it’s apt that it’s commonly found in the wine-growing regions across Europe and Asia. The veneer is yellow to dark brown with a strong grain pattern similar to oak, elm, or ash. The grain is straight with a somewhat coarse texture. European chestnut accepts stain readily and finishes easily.
While there are many ebonies, Macassar ebony is the best known and most commercially significant. This dramatic, bold wood is nearly black in color with thin, contrasting yellow-brown stripes and a beautiful sheen. Because the tree is small, veneer is rare, precious and highly sought after for cabinetry and architectural millwork. Also available in recon.
Red elm has a lively, decorative grain and a pale reddish-brown color interspersed with lovely light effects that result from wood’s medullary rays. Found primarily around the Great Lakes region, (and commonly referred to as slippery elm in tree form) this elegant domestic is a hardy survivor of the Dutch elm disease that wiped out millions of elms worldwide.
While most etimoe trees are tapped for rubber, untapped trees are often sliced to produce this rare and striking veneer. The light red-brown to grey-brown wood has a straight grain, often with striking black-red veins or stripes, and a fine, even, lustrous texture. Etimoe is available in large sizes and in a variety of figures, most commonly curly and fiddleback.
Eucalyptus is a lively veneer prized for the exotic, shimmering ripple effect in its grain. It’s available in a wide range of colors in its natural state—as well as a rich chocolate-brown when fumed, replicating the look of rich African or tropical woods. Eucalyptus produces a range of outstanding figures—most notably a strong fiddleback or bee’s wing figure—and stunning burls that are typically larger than most burls, producing well-sized sheets of rotary cut veneer. Also available in rough cut.
While most hickory is cut for lumber due to its strength and density, this traditional domestic beauty is increasingly available in veneer. Hickory has a notable contrast between its reddish heartwood and lighter sapwood. The grain is usually straight, but can be wavy or irregular in some flitches. Texture is course and porous with a matte finish. This is a quintessential domestic wood—lively in appearance and rich in American woodworking tradition.
One of the hardest woods in the world, ipé is found throughout Central and South America, although most commercial wood comes from Brazil. White the tree itself is large, defect-free sections for veneer are relatively small. Extremely dark, the colors can vary from reddish-brown to green-black with subtle but distinctive stripes. Flat cut veneer produces the characteristic cathedral grain. Quartered, it can produce a plain or broken stripe figure.
This tropical evergreen grows to impressive heights in consistently cylindrical trunks, making it ideal for veneer production for architectural use. It has an intense, warm, reddish-brown color—much like cherry—with contrasting occasional gray-brown streaks. Jatoba has a medium texture, interlocked grain, and very desirable natural luster.
A relative newcomer to the US market, jequitiba has grown in popularity in the last decade as an alternative to mahogany for rich, traditional interiors. The reddish to purple-brown heartwood, sometimes with dark streaks, varies only subtly from its paler sapwood. It has a medium luster, fine grain, and soft, smooth texture. These large trees produce ample size leaves for large installations. Flat cut, it has a pleasing cathedral figure; quartered wood may be figured.
The wood is yellowish-white to cream in color and becomes yellowish-grey when steamed. Sliced veneers are used for door skins and inner surface veneers. Rotary veneer is used for plywood panels and bleaching + dying.
Larch is an exceptionally straight-grained veneer with a reddish-brown heartwood and thin, yellow-white sapwood. This tall, straight tree grows to exceptional heights, producing long lengths of clear veneer, primarily from the heartwood of the tree. Fumed, the typically medium colored wood turns a rich, dark, chocolate brown color reminiscent of African or tropical woods.
Although veneer is often labeled white or black limba, there is really just one limba tree. Black limba refers veneer selected from the darker heartwood of the tree—typically reddish brown with varying degrees of irregular black streaking—and is somewhat more rare than white limba, which is cut from the lighter sapwood of the same tree. Figured wood is highly prized for architectural use.
Equally apt in contemporary, global, and traditional settings, mahogany has been traded from African ports for hundreds of years. Typically red to red-brown, and darker than South American mahoganies, this specie often develops a plain to ropey stripe, and may be marked with highly decorative cross figuring. Crotch veneers with vivid, flame-like patterns are one of nature’s most beautiful works of art.