Birdseye Maple Veneer is Truly Eye-Catching!

Birds Eye Bar
Birdseye is a distinctive and intriguing pattern resembling small swirling eyes in the grain of wood. It occurs naturally in a several types of wood, but predominantly in sugar maple (Acer saccharum).

Birdseye patterns can vary in shape from round to oval to a streaky raindrop form. The small oblong ones are commonly referred to as “rice eyes” and the larger or contrastier eyes that have a shadow or halo around them are called “whale eyes”.
The spacing also varies a great deal from tree to tree, making each unique. There are several unproven theories on how the Birdseye phenomenon occurs. One is Bird Peck or fungus. Another theory is when sap starts to run in the spring , the sudden alternating thawing and freezing of this sap could cause indentations in the grain.  Scientists are still at a loss to fully explain just how these fascinating characteristics occur.

The birdseye occur radially and to take advantage of this characteristic the logs are mostly sliced on a rotary lathe. In production a score line is cut lengthwise into the log, preferably where there is a defect or less eye concentration, like that the consecutive sheets can be assembled in sequence.

The Appeal of Birdseye Maple

Birds Eye ShowcaseBirdseye maple is a magnificent and beautiful wood which is also very rare, occurring in less than 0.1% of all sugar maple trees. Maple is a very hard wood and the presence of birdseyes makes the wood traditionally more challenging to work with, due to the divergent grain.

In the past, when wood was worked exclusively by hand, birdseye was chosen by only the most capable woodworkers to produce fine furniture and musical instruments. The cost of the wood was high and the production process was labor intensive. Because of this, you will usually find that antique furniture made from birdseye maple is extremely valuable.

However, because the grain pattern of each birdseye maple tree is different, you can be sure that the piece of furniture or any other item you own with a birdseye maple wood veneer finish will most certainly be unique. Apart from its overall natural beauty, this is where this particular wood gets most of its infamous good looks.

Birds Eye Crystal Birds
Another major appeal of birdseye maple wood is the marked contrast in color between the wood and the eyes, creating a stunning effect in the finished article. The wood itself can vary in color from almost white to cream, light brown and rose. The eyes are always darker than the wood and can sometimes even be black.

Birdseye Maple Wood Veneer

In today’s market, the cost of rare natural wood is generally high. For that reasons alone, you would be well advised to look at purchasing wood veneers instead of solid lumber.

Birds Eye Desert Rose With today’s cutting edge technology (literally!) used in the machining and finishing of wood, you will retain the characteristics of solid lumber and cut costs considerably by opting for high quality wood veneer.

Panel length birdseye is more than double the cost of the shorter furniture lengths. The pattern also lends itself to be treated like a burl and using a book and butt match technique can extend the length of the veneer.

Natural birdseye maple veneer provides a beautiful finish to any project, be it kitchen cabinets or a dining room table and matching buffet. This especially attractive wood needn’t be reserved exclusively for home décor; its unique characteristics also lend an air of style and elegance to the look of an office, restaurant or high-end boutique. It is also a favorite in the automotive and the aircraft industry for decorative trim.

Birdseye maple veneer is the perfect medium for dyeing because of the striking contrast between the “eyes” and the rest of the wood. Dyed wood veneers in birdseye maple tend to heighten this contrast, highlighting the eyes and making them stand out beautifully.


Sabrina Parisette-HerzogSabrina Parisette-Herzog is a 5th generation wood veneer specialist. Owner and President of Herzog Veneers, Inc., and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she and her husband Sam started the company in High Point, NC in 1982.
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