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Product Information - Hardwood Plywood


  • MDF: (Medium density fiberboard) MDF is consistently flat with very little variance in thickness across the panel. It is also relatively inexpensive in comparison with other cores, however it does not have the screw strength holding capabilities that a veneer ply core would have, especially near the edges.
  • Particle Board: Particle Board also lays quite flat and is even more inexpensive than MDF, but it has less screw strength holding capabilities than MDF.
  • Veneer Plywood: Veneer plywood cores have excellent screw strength holding capabilities and have more rigidity than MDF and Particle Board, though it is more expensive and it has more variance in thickness across the panel.
  • Wheat Board: Wheat Board is a relatively new product that is engineered using straw fibers and non-toxic resins. It combines good screw strength hold with a flat surface and it is between Particle Board and plywood in weight.
  • Composite Plywood: (Goldply) Each manufacturer has their own brand name of this product. We refer to it as Goldply. This product combines the flat panel of an MDF or Particle Board with the screw strength hold of a veneer plywood. This looks similar to a veneer plywood panel only the two plies closest to both outside veneers are made with an MDF crossband instead of a veneer plywood. It does weigh more than an all veneer plywood, but it quite a bit less than MDF or Particle Board.
Characteristics of Wood Veneered Panel Products
Panel Type Flatness Visual Edge Quality Surface Uniformity Dimensional Stability Screwholding Bending Strength Availability
Industrial Particleboard Core (Medium Density) Excellent Good Excellent Fair Fair Good Readily
Medium Density Fiberboard Core (MDF) Excellent Excellent Excellent Fair Good Good Readily
Veneer Core - All Hardwood Fair Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Readily
Veneer Core - All Softwood Fair Good Fair Excellent Excellent Excellent Readily
Lumber Core - Hardwood or Softwood Good Good Good Good Excellent Excellent Limited
Standard Hardboard Core Excellent Excellent Excellent Fair Good Good Readily
Tempered Hardboard Core Excellent Good Good Good Good Good Limited
Moisture Resistant Particleboard Core Excellent Good Good Fair Fair Good Limited
Moisture Resistant MDF Core Excellent Excellent Good Fair Good Good Limited
Fire Resistant Particleboard Core Excellent Fair Good Fair Fair Good Limited


The grain patterns of the veneers of hardwood plywood are determined by how the veneer is peeled or sliced.

  • Rotary cut: These veneers are made by placing the log on a lathe and peeling the veneer as the log turns. Veneers are large enough that whole piece faces (or one piece faces) are commonly peeled. The effect of this cut creates a wild varied look.
Rotary cut
  • Plain slicing (also called flat cutting) is made by slicing the log parallel to the center of the log to give it a straight grained look with cathedrals which are formed by the inner most annual growth rings. Rotary and plain slicing are the most commonly sold hardwood plywood veneer cuttings.
Plain slicing
  • Quarter slicing achieves a straight grain appearance by slicing perpendicular to the annual growth rings.
Quarter slicing
  • Rift cutting is made by cutting oak at a slight angle to the medullary ray cells (which radiate from the center of the log like the spokes of a wheel).
Rift cutting
  • Half-round slicing is cutting on an arc roughly parallel to the center of the log. This cut gives the cathedrals more rounded tops when compared to plain slicing.
Half-round slicing
  • Face Grades: AA, A, B, C, D, and E
    Each log that is peeled is unique and has different characteristics. There is an industry grading standard that the mills Intermountain Wood Products purchases from must abide by. They sort grades of faces of veneers into six different grades which are (from best to worst): AA, A, B, C, D, and E.
  • Back Grades: 1, 2, 3, AND 4
    There are four different grades of the backs of veneers, although it is possible to order face grades on both sides of a panel. The four back grades are (again, from best to worst):1, 2, 3, and 4. Both face and back grades vary from species to species. Oak would have different grade requirements or allowances than would walnut, however there is a basic grading structure which is followed for all species. The most uniform color and grain is at the top of the scale for face grades.


Four matching techniques are commonly used.

  • Book Matching: Alternating pieces of veneer from a flitch are turned over, so that adjacent leaves are "opened" as two pages in a book.
    Visual Effect: Veneer joints match, creating a symmetrical pattern. Yields maximum continuity of grain. Prominent characteristics will ascend or descend across the match. Because tight side and loose side faces alternate in adjacent leaves, they reflect light and accept stain differently and this may yield a noticeable color variation. This effect may be minimized through the use of proper finishing techniques (i.e., washcoat-sealer/thinner or glue-sizing).
Book Matching
  • Slip Matching: Adjoining leaves are slipped out in sequence, with all the same-face sides being exposed. The joint may not be noticeable if grain is straight. (If grain is not exactly vertical, vertical slant may occur).
    Visual Effect: Figure repeats but grain does not match at joints. Produces a uniform color because all faces have a similar light reflection.
Slip Matching
  • Pleasing Match: Veneers are matched by color similarity, not necessarily grain characteristics.
    Visual Effect: Since no sharp color contrasts can appear at the joints, an effect between book and slip matched and random matched is achieved.
Pleasing Match
  • Random (or Mismatch): Random selection of the arrangement of the leaves from one or more flitches. Usually done with lower grade veneers allowing knots, stains and other natural characteristics. The components may be of different width within the panel face.
    Visual Effect: Casual, "board-like" to achieve mismatched or plank effect.
Random (or Mismatch)


  • Shop Grade: It is common for hardwood plywood mills to produce a certain amount of shop grade or off-fall in the production process. Shop grade would be defined as an imperfect panel that has at least an 85% usable portion of the panel and will be priced with a 15% discount.
  • Sizes and grades: Please ask us if you need a different size, thickness, or grade than is listed as what your location has in stock.
  • Plywood construction: Plywood are made with a face and a lesser quality back decorative veneer with bands of differing quality thicker veneers each laying crossways from the previous layer to provide strength and durability (cross-ply construction).

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