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Timber veneer matching

Once cut, the way you select and match timber veneer leaves onto a substrate can create a variety of visual effects that can enhance your project designs. Each leaf varies slightly but belongs to a family of leaves, which then allows for different ways of matching them. The gradual change of the grain through each tree gives veneers their subtle variations – and makes matching them for each project a highly skilled role. Some of the commonly used timber veneer match types are described below.

Book matching

As the name suggests, in book matching each veneer leaf is folded out with its mirror image, like the centre pages of a book. The two adjoining surfaces are produced from the same piece of wood, so that they have almost exactly the same appearance, but mirrored.

Veneer book matching

Slip matching

Slip matching involves laying the veneer leaves face up, and side by side. The resulting grain pattern is repeated at the width of each leaf across the layout. That is, the visual effect shows a grain figure repeating, but joints do not show a grain match.

Timber veneer slip matching

Reverse slip matching

To create this style, veneer leaves are slip matched then every alternate leaf is turned on its end. This balances the points (or ‘crowns’) of the grain. This is often used in boat-shaped tables or other areas where round or curved shapes would otherwise be cutting off the grain in peculiar ways.

Timber veneer reverse slip matching

Random matched

Also known as mismatched, in this layout, veneer leaves are placed next to each other in random order and orientation and randomly spliced edge to edge, producing a ‘board-by-board’ effect. This produces a rustic appearance, as though individual boards from a random pile were applied to the product.

Timber veneer random matching

Quarter matching

This is a way of jointing veneers based on the nature of the growth of the tree from which they’re cut. Four veneer pieces are book matched both from side to side and from top to bottom. Quarter matching is useful in making up larger panels.

Timber veneer quarter matching


Various grain patterns can be ‘joined up’ to form larger visual patterns and solve spatial issues. Burl veneers are often used in this way, with panels continued in a matched sequence until the required panel size is obtained. End matching is another way to solve spatial issues. Where the length of the veneer doesn’t allow its fabrication into the desired height of the panel, it can be matched with vertical butts, as well as horizontal book match joins.

Timber veneer joining

Speciality matching

This is a technique that utilises natural grain patterns to create distinct patterns, such as herringbone, ‘v’ matched designs or radiating sunburst-like patterns. This kind of veneer matching pattern requires speciality skills and an eye for detail.

Timber veneer speciality matching

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Timber veneer cuts

Timber veneer is manufactured in one of two ways – either by ‘peeling’ the trunk of a tree or by thinly slicing large rectangular blocks of wood known as flitches. Most veneer panels are cut at around 0.6mm thickness as a standard for our Australian market. Of course, depending on the demands of each project, varying thicknesses can be created. The appearance of the grain in the veneer comes from slicing through the growth rings of a tree, and each veneer’s unique visual characteristics will depend on the angle at which the wood is sliced. The following is a description of the most common timber veneer cuts and grain patterns available.

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