Often called African teak, afrormosia grows in relatively dry forests in the Congo basin of west Africa. Typically available in larger leaves than teak, it has a beautiful golden brown color; a fine, uniform texture; natural luster; and a typically straight grain that may produce a broken stripe when quarter cut. This veneer can be stained to a variety of colors and is a popular choice for architectural and boat interiors.
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.
Avodire is a pale yellow African wood with a natural luster, moderate to fine texture, and very little contrast between heartwood and sapwood. A wide range of grain patterns and figures, combined with a shimmery chotoyance (cat’s eye effect), make it popular in cabinetry, furniture, and architectural interiors. Highly figured logs fetch high prices.
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.
In both color and aroma, bosse resembles cedar and for that reason this large West African tree is sometimes called African cedar. The color varies from pale pink to deep mahogany and veneer is often highly figured with fiddleback, mottle, or a highly prized pommele figure—all of which ensure one-of-a-kind architectural installations. Availability and cost can vary widely based on grain patterning and intensity.
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.
Thousands of centuries ago, Lebanese cedar was one of the world’s most precious woods, used in the construction of ancient temples and palaces. Today, this beautiful, decorative wood is now primarily grown in England and France. Rare and highly prized, most logs are produced by local European veneer merchants with local knowledge of the availability of this exceptional veneer.
Also known as juniper, the aromatic red cedar veneer tends to be a reddish or violet-brown with a pale yellow sapwood. A relatively small tree, the veneer produced typically includes copious knot marks. Red cedar stands are found in scattered locations over the eastern half of North America and their veneer is well suited to naturalistic and rustic interiors.
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.
Dillenia is a canopy tree that grows over 100’ tall in the Malaysian archipelago—with straight, branch-free, trunks of 80’ and more, and buttresses up to 12’ high. The heartwood is a rich reddish-brown with an occasional purple tinge. The sapwood is wide, orange-brown to pink, and subtly defined. Conspicuous medullary rays give this wood a lacy and lustrous surface in quarter cut veneer.
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.
The rustic character of this wood works well in both contemporary and arcadian settings. The vivid, contrasting red-yellow stripe is typically straight, even, and seldom, if ever, figured. Generally quarter cut, more veneer and production plywood are made from this specie than any other worldwide.
Gaboon is an elegant African wood with a lustrous, natural sheen. It ranges in color from pale pink to reddish brown and when quarter cut it often produces a beautiful broken stripe or rope figure. This moderately priced veneer comes in logs well sized for larger architectural projects; figured logs fetch higher prices.