Before a wood veneer is created, the wood that is going to be sliced into the veneer is soaked in a bath of hot water or is steamed in a large steamer. This makes the wood fibers soften considerably to allow them to hold together more firmly when the wood is sliced very thin. Compare this to the slicing of a dry piece of cheese. It is more difficult to get a long, thin slice when the cheese is crumbling and cracking.
Wood veneer is very thin, about 1/16th of an inch. So the wood block it is cut from must be absolutely flat and straight. A variation in the surface from one end to another means the veneer will be thin on this side. Logs are precision cut on a large ban saw, and then ground perfectly flat by a grinding machine, or precision cut again by another flat blade.
Slicing the Veneer
When the log has been prepped for the final cut, it is sent to the veneer machine. The veneer machine applies a blade to the wood that slices and peels away a thin layer of the board. This layer is removed and stacked in a pile. Each veneer layer is stacked in the order it was peeled. After the cut, the veneers are pressed by hot platens and then treated with stain or sealants if any are to be used.
There are other methods of creating a veneer. For instance, plywood veneers, which are slightly thicker, are sliced from a log that has been debarked and precision ground to a perfectly straight tube. The veneer machine rolls the log between rollers, while a sharp blade slices away a layer of the log. These layers are then pressed together to form the plywood.