Book Matching: A Technique for Matching Wood Veneer

wood veneersVeneer book matching is the most frequently used method for matching wood veneer. It is accomplished by turning every other veneer leaf over, and arranging it such that the grain opens at the spine, similar to the pages in a book. This gives a mirrored effect in every adjacent leaf, thus the name “book matching.”

To make this even clearer, picture this: book matched is called that because the veneers are opened from the flitch (a longitudinal cut from the trunk of a tree), much like the pages of a book; this creates a symmetrical pattern and a series of pairs with maximum grain continuity. Half heart bundles or crotches can be split in the middle and booked over for a perfect-mirrored cathedral match. Other veneers with a wilder grain pattern can create bigger dramatic pictures with all sorts of interesting designs. A fun way to test the final picture is to hold a mirror at the “spine or cut” line and move it around to simulate a book match. This attractive and appealing effect makes this method of matching in wood veneers highly popular.

wood veneersWhen there is a specification of the sequenced panels, the noticeable characteristics will descend or ascend throughout the match, while the leaves develop from one panel to another. Veneer book matching can be used with rift, quarter, or plain sliced wood veneers. The loose and tight surfaces that alternate in book matched veneers also affect the way it looks when painted, or dyed, and can even affect the way it refracts light.

Book Matching & Slip Matching: What’s the Diff?

wood veneersSlip matching is another type of matching in wood veneers. This is usually used with rift sliced or quarter sliced veneers. With this process, a sequence of consecutive veneer sheets or matching veneer leaves are each slipped out, one right after the next, like a deck of cards or a fan, to create the panel product’s face, which leads to all of the same surface sides being exposed.

Slip matching is different from veneer book matching because the latter involves turned over alternating leaves. Book matching may reflect light, may offer a distinct color variation, and may accept stain differently. This can creates a barber pole. Barber pole happens as the veneer knife blade hits the cant (half of a veneer log). The blade compresses the cells on the cant side, (tight side). As the sheet rolls off the knife, it loosens the cells creating the (loose side). When book matching, this can create a light, dark striping effect. The loose and tight grain will stain differently. This sometimes occurs in various species like oak, English sycamore and cherry. The barber pole effect is also more distinct when using stains that are darker in color.

Slip matched wood veneers, on the other hand, have the same surface side exposed, therefore producing a uniform color. This is because all the surfaces have the same type of light refraction, unlike the effect of book matching. Those who want to avoid the barber pole can opt for the standard slip matching, if they feel it works best for their particular project.


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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