According to legend, pirates of the high seas buried their treasures on Caribbean islands. What they couldn't know was that another treasure lay hidden right before them, a small amount of beautifully figured wood hidden deep in the crotch of mahogany trees. Mahogany, although not the only tree that produces a desirable crotch grain pattern, offers some of the most spectacular results. Nearly all harvested crotch wood is sliced into exceptionally thin veneer in order to stretch the rare material to its absolute limits.
While each specimen is unique, names like plume, flame, feather, and rooster tail generally apply to this kind of grain pattern. Crotch veneer is cut perpendicular to the V created by the spreading branches in the log. Each slice has a wild grain pattern going in all directions, much like burl veneer does. Of course, this usually means that no matter how you glue it to a core material, eventually the veneer will crack and split.
Its primary use is as a decorative veneer on casework, boxes, humidors, furniture panels, and clocks. Due to its irregular grain patterns, crotch veneer is often wrinkly, making it necessary to flatten it prior to gluing. Planing is almost impossible, and crotch veneer has random areas of exposed end grain that absorb stains and finishes unevenly. Mahogany crotch veneer is relatively expensive, fetching five times the price of plain sliced veneer.
Wood grain images provided by HobbitHouseInc.com