Hardwood Plywood — the Ultimate Design Canvas

Aug 17, 2023

Hardwood plywood is an endlessly customizable wood product — with hundreds of veneer options to match your specific visual and functional needs. Adhered to a stable core, these thin sheets of wood veneer are highly specifiable from species, cut, grade and color specification to veneer match and sequence. Create fine cabinetry, stunning wall paneling, and timeless furniture with Hardwood plywood.

Taking a consultative approach to best understand the needs and desires of our customers, we are committed to Delivering the Difference with our decorative Hardwood Plywood products. 



Choosing hardwood plywood involves several decisions including:


Grading Plywood: The grading standard for Hardwood Plywood comes from the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA). Grading determines the amount of color variation, defects, and grain patterns on the Veneered Panels. 

Grading Hardwood Plywood is inherently a subjective and difficult process, as although the standard gives rules for specific numbers of defects and color specifications, there is always personal or operational bias when it comes to the overall appearance of a particular surface. From one grade to the next, not only does variation in appearance get wider, but the amount of overlap between the low end of one grade and the higher end of the next grade down gets wider as well. Because of the inherent individuality of each tree and species, consideration should be given to the overall appearance of the veneer face to determine the appropriate grade for that veneer.

Grades of Plywood:

A Grade Plywood

Grade A is the optimal choice when exceptional appearance is important. Under this grading standard small burls and pin knots are allowed, as well as slight blending mineral streaks. However, all defects in the A Grade must be slight or non-existent. A grade Hardwood Plywood will have consistency of color and grain pattern.

B Grade Plywood

Grade B plywood offers desirable appearance and natural characteristics. Color characteristics are similar in appearance to A Grade plywood. More burls, larger pin knots and mineral streaks are allowed but not at the expense of desirability. B Grade plywood is excellent for richly colored application and more economical price points.

C Grade Plywood

C Grade Plywood allows for unlimited color and increased natural characteristics. Pin knots, small burls, solid and repaired knots are allowed. As are mineral streaks and vine marks. However, a smooth and sound finish is ensured. C Grade Plywood is ideal for applications where an economical panel with a natural appearance is desired. 

Rustic Grade Plywood

Rustic Grade is an appearance grade. Rustic Grade is designed to provide unique character with all its natural defects present. There is no limit on the number of knots, pin knots, bird peck, and mineral streaks. while ensuring that the board is sound. There are often limits on the volume and soundness of pith. These “defects” are all desired in this grade. Rustic is widely used in cabinetry and flooring applications.

Note: Color specifications vary by species. Natural color is allowed in any grade of Birch and Maple. Be sure to communicate your color preference when placing an order.


Cutting: Each veneer is sliced to create a specific woodgrain pattern. From straight, linear grain to heavy cathedrals, slicing methods vary depending on the specified cutting method. 

Types of veneer cuts:

Plain Sliced

Plain Sliced veneer is produced by cutting roughly parallel to the center of the log, tangentially to the growth rings. Generally, Plain Slicing produces a consistent appearance for each sheet, and creates a cathedral grain pattern on the surface.

Quarter Sliced

Quarter Slicing occurs when a log is cut at a right angle to the growth rings and parallel to the rays, resulting in a relatively straight grain veneer. This slice creates a uniform display of grain across the face that is both dimensionally stable and visually appealing. 

Rift Sliced

Rift Sliced veneer is cut on a radial angle toward the growth rings of the tree by slicing a quarter log to produce a cut that crosses both the growth rings and the rays at a slight angle, resulting in a straight grain effect. Rift Cut is similar to quartered but controls for flake.

Rotary Sliced

Rotary Sliced veneer is peeled from a whole log set in a lathe and turned against a special knife, resulting in a cut that roughly parallels the growth rings to produce a bold and often striated grain pattern. Like unwinding a roll of paper, the ribbon of veneer is then cut to usable widths. Rotary Slice creates exceptionally wide sheets with distinctive grain patterns. Rotary cutting is the only method of producing veneer that creates Whole Piece Faces and is the most economical way to create veneer.


Matching: Veneer is matched to create a specific visual pattern. Premier visual effects are created through artful matching of each panel. 

Types of veneer matching techniques: 

Book Matched

Book Matching is a method in which every other leaf or component of veneer from a log is turned over to produce its mirror image at the joint. Like turning the pages of a book, this matching method produces an aesthetically pleasing appearance across the face.

Plank Matched

Plank Matching is achieved by arranging different components of the same species in a specific order that creates a rustic appearance. These components create an inconsistent look, avoiding concentrated wood characteristics and accenting them in other areas. Deliberately mismatched, Plank Matching creates a natural lumber effect.

Slip Matched

Slip Matching is a method where adjacent sheets of veneer are consecutively placed side by side without turning. The result is a repeating pattern with uniform color across the surface. Slip Matching is common with Rift Cut to enhance the straight grain appearance of the veneer. Slip Matching eliminates the barber pole effect, where alternating sheets of veneer reflect light and stain differently creating unwanted variation in the face.

Whole Piece Face

Whole Piece Face (WPF) Matching is a continuous piece of veneer peeled from a log using the Rotary Slicing method. The result is a single sheet of veneer that reveals a continuous grain pattern throughout the sheet.

Special Match

A number of special patterns can be created upon request by a customer, including diamond point.

Sequence Match and Numbered (Seq’d)

A method of arranging veneer faces such that each face is in order relative to its original position in the tree and, therefore, contains features if grain and figures similar to adjacent faces. Three or more related faces are required to constitute a sequence.

Sustainability: As an early adopter of FSC®, we recognize the importance of sustainably harvested lumber. FSC® Certified lumber is available upon request. Contact your Sales or Specifications Representative for more information.

We recognize the importance of ethically harvested plywood. As our most valuable resource, wood is a renewable and sustainable material for the built environment, requiring less energy than alternatives like concrete or steel. From harvesting to recycling, it is the most carbon-efficient choice for building materials. Wood is of the few elements that can increase sustainability in a building’s life cycle, reduce waste, and create positive biophilic health benefits. Increasingly, architects and designers are calling for a return to wood as the prominent basic building material. 

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