Aside from the species itself, the cut of a given sheet of wood veneer has a profound effect on its final appearance. The following list is not comprehensive, but should give an idea of the veneer cutting process and outcome.
Flat Cut/Plain Sliced
Don't let the name fool you. This is a beautiful cut! The log is sliced parallel to its length (rather than horizontally against the log) creating the “cathedral effect” when the cut reaches the innermost rings of the log.
The log is sliced horizontally, with the blade perpendicular to the annual growth rings, creating an attractive straight grain appearance.
The log is centered and sliced horizontally with a broad blade set at an angle. Visualize the unrolling of paper towel and you'll have an idea of this cut. This cut reveals the variation in wood grain. A main benefit is that it often results in seam-free sheets of veneer.
The log is cut at a slight angle giving a straight grain cut that minimizes any irregularities of the wood grain.
This is veneer sliced from a board of flat sawn lumber rather than from a log. This creates a variegated color and figure.
Half Round Slicing
Sliced on an arc parallel to the center of the log, this achieves a flat-cut appearance.
Understanding these cuts can help in making the right selection of wood veneer for a given application.