Plywood Veneer: This is Why the Cut Matters

The way the veneer was sliced from the log determines its look. The more common cuts—rotary and plain—are also the least expensive.

The way the veneer was sliced from the log determines its look. The more common cuts—rotary and plain—are also the least expensive. Quarter-sawn and rift-sawn are more labor intensive to cut and are considered more attractive by most people. Check out these 16 money-saving plywood tips to help you build better cabinets and furniture.

Rotary-Cut Veneer:

veneer rotary cut plywood

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rotary cut plywood sheet

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Rotary cut veneer is peeled from the log like paper towels from a roll. It produces a wide, “loud” grain pattern.

Plain-Slicing Veneer:

plain slicing plywood veneer cut

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plain slicing plywood grain cut veneer

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Plain-Slicing  produces a repeating pattern, typically showing large “cathedrals” in the grain.

Rift-Sawing Veneer:

Rift sawing plywood cut veneer

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rift sawing plywood veneer grain

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Rift sawing produces veneer with tight, straight lines.

Quarter-Sawing Veneer:

quarter sawing plywood veneer cut

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quarter sawn plywood veneer cut grain

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Quarter-sawing produces veneer with the same tight, straight lines as rift-sawing but includes the signature “ray flecks.”

Now go check out our tips to take the mystery out of the plywood grading system and show you what you will get in each grade. The higher the grade the better quality you should expect.

Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.