Growing & Selling Hardwood And Softwood Sawlogs For Knot-Free Veneer

Wood veneer is a thin sheet of wood that is sliced or peeled from a log and used as a decorative covering for furniture, cabinets, flooring, and other wood products. There are several types of veneer, including:

  • Softwood veneer: Softwood veneer is typically made from pine, spruce, or other coniferous trees. It is less expensive than hardwood veneer and is often used for lower-end applications.
  • Hardwood veneer: Hardwood veneer is made from a variety of hardwood species, including oak, maple, cherry, and walnut. It is typically more expensive than softwood veneer and is often used for high-end cabinetry, furniture, wood paneling, and decorative woodwork.
  • Exotic hardwood veneer: Exotic hardwood veneer is made from rare and exotic hardwood species, such as rosewood, ebony, and mahogany. It is often highly prized for its unique and distinctive grain patterns and colors.
  • Veneer sawlogs: Veneer sawlogs are high-quality logs that are specifically grown and harvested for their potential to produce high-quality veneer. These logs are carefully selected for their size, straightness, and quality of wood, and are often sold at a premium price.

Veneer is typically produced by slicing or peeling a log into thin sheets, which are then glued onto a substrate or backing material to create a finished product. The quality and value of the veneer depend on a variety of factors, including the species and quality of the wood, the thickness of the veneer, and the quality of the cutting and gluing processes.

Hardwood Veneer Sawlogs

Hardwood veneer sawlogs are carefully selected and graded based on their quality and suitability for producing high-quality veneer. Some common tree species used for hardwood veneer sawlogs include oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and mahogany, among others.

The highest quality hardwood veneer sawlogs are typically knot-free and have a clear, straight grain pattern that is free from defects or irregularities. These logs are often used for high-end veneer applications, where the quality and appearance of the finished product are of utmost importance.

Other hardwood veneer sawlogs may have a clear, straight grain pattern but may have some knots or other defects that limit their potential for producing high-quality veneer. These logs are typically graded and sorted based on their quality and may be used for lower-end veneer applications or for other woodworking purposes.

Straightness is also an important factor in the quality and value of hardwood veneer sawlogs, as logs that are crooked or have excessive taper will result in more waste and lower-quality veneer. Large-diameter hardwood sawlogs are also highly valued, as they can produce larger sheets of veneer and are less common than smaller logs.

large, high-grade hardwood veneer sawlogs are the most valuable and can fetch premium prices on the market. These logs are carefully selected and sorted to ensure the highest possible quality and are typically used for high-end veneer applications in the furniture, cabinetry, and decorative woodwork industries.

Softwood Veneer Sawlogs

Softwood sawlogs are also commonly used for producing veneer, although they are generally less expensive than hardwood veneer. Some common softwood species used for veneer include poplar, spruce, pine, Douglas fir, and hemlock.

Softwood veneer sawlogs are typically smaller in diameter than hardwood sawlogs, with a minimum diameter of around 8 inches. However, they are often longer than hardwood logs, with lengths of up to 10 feet or more. Softwood veneer logs may also contain knots or other imperfections that are not suitable for high-quality hardwood veneer.

One example of a softwood veneer is knotty pine, which is a popular choice for rustic or country-style cabinetry, furniture, and decorative woodwork. Softwood veneer sawlogs must be freshly harvested and not allowed to dry out, as this can cause the wood to become brittle and difficult to peel at the mill.

Softwood veneer is generally less expensive than hardwood veneer and is often used for lower-end applications or where a more rustic or casual look is desired. However, there are many different grades and qualities of softwood veneer, and some high-quality softwood veneers can be quite valuable and sought after.

Wood Veneer, Veneer Wood, Veneer Grade Sawlogs Video

video about manufacturing wood veneer

How Is Wood Veneer made?

Wood veneer is typically made by peeling or slicing thin sheets of wood from a sawlog. The process typically takes place in a specialized veneer mill, where the logs are first prepared by removing the bark and any other imperfections.

The sawlogs are then fed into a veneer lathe or slicer, which peels or slices a continuous ribbon of wood from the log. This ribbon of wood is then cut to length and dried or cured to remove any moisture and prevent warping or other defects.

The resulting veneer sheets are typically sorted and graded based on their quality and suitability for various applications. Higher-quality veneers are typically used for decorative or high-end applications, while lower-quality veneers may be used for more utilitarian purposes.

In addition to peeling and slicing, wood veneer can also be produced by sawing, slicing, or rotary cutting. Each method produces a different type of veneer with unique properties and characteristics, allowing for a wide range of applications and uses.

Veneer Plywood

Class 2 sawlogs are peeled to make veneer for plywood. Class 2 sawlogs typically have knots and other blemishes that lower its value, but it is essential for making plywood. Plywood veneer is thicker than high-grade veneer. It must be wider to hold knots in place after the cut. The sheets are laid out, usually cross-grain, one on top of the other with a weather resistant, fast-drying adhesive between each. Assembled sheets are pressed and allowed to dry before the layered plywood is cut to size and palleted.

Characteristics Of A Top Quality Wood Veneer Sawlog

There are many factors that determine the value of a wood veneer sawlog; straightness, heartwood, defects from knots and insect damage to name a few.

Straightness – the best wood veneer sawlogs are "dead straight" with not much of a deflection off center.

Heartwood – the most valuable hardwood veneer requires a small amount heartwood displayed throughout the sheet as is the case with birch, maple and ash while other hardwood veneers increase in value when a large amount of heartwood is present like in black walnut, black cherry and red oak.

Defects – one of the most important defects that can lower value of a sawlog is the appearance of knots along the wood grain. Even a mature tree standing in a forest that has a branch free trunk will probably have imperfections deep within its wood. Pruning tree saplings from year 4 or 5 will almost certainly produce a 100% knot-free sawlog right to the center of the trunk.

Class 1 & 2 Sawlogs (Grades)

There are two types of wood veneer sawlogs; one that is identified by strength (class 2) and the other by beauty (class 1). Both can be further separated by grade.

wood venners sawlog

Class 1 Veneer Sawlogs

Class 1 wood veneer sawlogs are used for furniture, cabinets, flooring and paneling where the look of the wood is most important. The finest cuts of these types of sawlogs (number 1 grade) are used for architectural millwork, such as ornate moldings and wainscoting. Number 2 grade is used for doors, trim, furniture and cabinets. The very best logs are called slicer logs, because they cut into slices parallel to their length. Rotary logs aren’t quite as good and are peeled on a lathe. These logs can travel the world, often changing hands several times, increasing in value as it trades. Even the smaller, poorer-quality wood veneer logs are worth more than top quality timber sawlogs, and large ones of excellent quality are worth several dollars per lineal foot in its log form. At the high end for domestic species, a perfect wood veneer sawlog can be worth more than 60 dollars per lineal foot.

Class 2 Veneer Sawlogs

Class 2 veneer sawlogs are primarily used for construction grade lumber products such as plywood, linoleum floor underlay and glue lam beams and have the least value of the two classes.


Even some of the highest priced furniture is veneered, a technique of covering a substrate material, which is used to create the shape of the piece and provide strength. Everyday furniture hasn’t been made from real wood for 60 years or more – the reason? There actually are two; the first is wood became expensive due to shortages of quality wood stock and second, the introduction of substrate fabrication materials like particle board were invented.

high end chair veneered with black walnit veneer

If you accidentally take a chip out of a piece of your furniture during a move for example, you will see what we mean; there is no real wood under the veneer. Veneer as it turns out is there to give the impression of quality. Although sometimes beautiful, it provides little structural strength to furniture and lasts just a few years where real wood furniture can last for centuries and eventually become antiques.

There is an argument however for sustainability and environmental conservation. One exotic tree can veneer thousands of pieces of furniture but would make less than a hundred solid wood dressers, tables and chairs.

Wood Veneers

Wood veneer is offered for many tree species from exotic sub-tropical eucalyptus to the more at home American walnut. Wood veneer can be purchased in thin cut rolls and strips or thicker cut sheets for a more robust finish. A single sheet can be used to cover an entire table.

Exotic Wood Veneers

Eucalyptus is a lively wood 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 an African or tropical wood. 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 veneer burls, producing well-sized sheets of rotary cut veneer. Eucalyptus is also available in rough cut shown in the image below.

Light Wood Veneers

American cherry is easy to work, fine textured, strong and reddish in color. It's highly rated in all working properties including wood bending and turning. Cherry's color ages to a richer, rusty red brown that gives it a regal look over time. Cherry is perfect as an edging veneer.

Typically available in rolls, wood veneer is also offered as paper sheets composed of premium sliced cherry that are spliced along the edges to make the full width; splicing is also done in a book matched pattern that's attractive and helps hide the splicing seam. The sheets use full-length slices so there are no splices to make the length. The 10 mil (10 thousandths) thickness paper backing allows the sheet to bend, flex, and work with curves and shapes without splitting. Paper veneer is popular in Japan.

Dark Veneer

Walnut, also known as black walnut or American walnut, grows in the eastern United States and Canada. Walnut wood veneer is very popular because of its beautiful grain and rich chocolate brown color. Walnut veneer is available as Flat Cut Walnut, Quartered Walnut and Walnut Burl. Popular Walnut Crotch has limited availability. These diverse Walnut cuts enable these veneers to be used in a myriad of projects. There is also a “peel-and-stick” veneer available.

Peel & Stick Veneers

Peel and stick wood veneers are a type of wood veneer that can be easily applied to a variety of surfaces, including furniture, cabinets, walls, and more. They are available in a range of different types and finishes, including oak, cherry, maple, mahogany, and more.

Peel and stick veneers typically come in thicknesses of 0.025 to 0.030 inches, which is thin enough to easily bend and contour to both straight and curved surfaces. They are typically made from real wood veneer that is backed with a pressure-sensitive adhesive, allowing for easy application and a strong bond.

The durability of peel and stick wood veneers can vary depending on the quality of the veneer and the adhesive used. In general, high-quality veneers with a strong adhesive can last for many years and provide a durable and long-lasting finish. However, it is important to avoid exposing the veneer to excessive moisture or direct sunlight, as this can cause fading or warping over time.

Peel and stick wood veneers are generally not recommended for surfaces that will be exposed to water or heavy wear, as they may not hold up well over time. However, they are typically washable and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge.

a roll of dark walnut veneer used to cover shpaed with curves with wood

Paper veneers are applied using contact adhesive to cover large flat areas and curved surfaces of various wood fabrications: conference tables, desks, doors and architectural paneling.

Dimensional Lumber Sawlogs

The only difference between wood veneer sawlogs and dimensional lumber sawlogs is the class, grade and willing acceptance of defects.

Hardwood Veneer

Hardwood veneer is the most valuable of the wood veneers. It's strong, durable and has a pleasing appearance. Hardwood veneer sawlogs are rarely peeled into thick sheets to make pressed panels. It is much more profitable and therefore more valuable as a thin sheet veneer.

Softwood Veneer

Softwood veneer is used predominantly by the construction industry; however, it would be extremely valuable if large diameter, clear branched white pine was ever available.

Veneer Tree Plantations

Raising trees to grow tall and branch-free in a nursery would be first step to growing class 1 veneer sawlogs. Seedlings grown to 20 feet in just 8 years and then transplanted would give a 20-year head-start for veneer tree plantations resulting in a big money harvest year 40 and beyond.

Contact Us To Invest In A Hardwood Veneer Tree Plantation

The best time to plant veneer trees was 20 years ago.
The second best time is now!