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.
Amboyna burl is among the world’s rarest and most expensive veneers—holding the distinction of being the original wood used on Rolls Royce dashboards. Leafs are small in dimension due to the small size of the burl. Deep yellow-orange to red, amboina burl has an unsurpassed depth and beauty prized in high quality architectural woodwork and cabinetry.
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.
This veneer is cut from burled growths found on birch trees in forests in Finland and Russia—the result of local genetics or the soil conditions in that location. The veneer produced is uncommonly beautiful—an atypical burl pattern interspersed with pitch flecks, a swirling figure, and small, dark “eye” markings that create a teardrop effect. Veneer is rotary cut due to the small diameter of the burl.
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.
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.
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.
The largest of the hemlocks, this hemlock grows over 300’ tall from the Rockies to the Pacific coast. It has a straight grain, tightly spaced growth rings, somewhat course texture, and flat, uniform appearance with little distinction between the heartwood and sapwood. Hemlock takes finishing well and can be stained in virtually any color, making it an adaptable wood for interior projects.
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.
Lacewood is an uncommon veneer with a conspicuous flecking that resembles lace when quarter cut. Reddish brown with a silvery sheen, this striking veneer has a straight grain and small flake–the result of cutting through the medullary ray, which is especially pronounced in the species. Lacewood is always quarter cut and can be fumed to a rich chocolate brown.
From the same tree that produces maple syrup, comes this beautiful veneer that ranges in color from snow white to warm yellow; has a close, fine luminous texture; and a lovely straight grain that may be interspersed with natural character marks. A wide range of gorgeous figures and wild grain distortions—from curly to bird’s eye to maple burl—are sought after for distinctive paneling and furniture. Flat cut maple displays the distinctive heart or cathedral pattern.
This European fruit tree produces a very fine-grained wood with a uniform texture and a partial flame that is both beautiful and decorative. The wood is often pith-marked and occurs in colors from rosy cream to light reddish brown in both plain and figured logs. When fumed, pearwood turns a rich, dark brown; when stained black, it provides an excellent substitute for ebony.
A cousin of the hickory, the pecan tree was so central to native Americans in the lower Mississippi river valley that it was associated with the Great Spirit. Today the tree is cultivated in southern orchards for nuts and is prized as a fine cabinet wood. It has a typically straight grain, a medium texture, low natural sheen, a medium reddish-brown heartwood and paler yellow sapwood, and may be figured. Pecan stains well and is sometimes stained to match or replicate other woods.
This rare and beautiful, light-colored Central American tree grows in a dog-leg fashion, making straight sections over 10’ uncommon. Because it must be cut when the sap is low, native loggers watch the phases of the moon, waiting for the waning phases when sap is limited to harvest. Yellowish-red in color, and streaked by brown, red, or orange, the wood produces a range of beautiful figures and is highly prized for architectural work.
This is one of the world’s most loved and prized veneers. It ranges in color from lustrous chocolate-brown to purple-black with a cream colored sapwood—all very saturated with a vivid contrast. It has a lively variegated stripe and occasional bee’s wing figure and, when flat cut, produces a characteristic cathedral pattern. Increasingly used as a substitute for the extremely rare but prized Rio rosewood.
Pale yellow-gray to nearly white, sen is a Japanese ash popular in Japan for both furniture and interiors. It has a straight, fine grain when cut on the quarter and a nice cathedral character with a fine grain on either side of the heart when flat cut. When marked with a pommele figure, this veneer is called "tamo." Sen is an excellent choice for a variety of interiors aesthetics including modern, Asian, and minimalist designs.