The Differences Between Flat, Edge and End Grain Plywood

September 29, 2010 in FAQ series

Welcome to the first post in our FAQ Series! As the series name suggests, this is a question we get asked a lot: what are the differences between Flat Grain, Edge Grain and End Grain when talking about bamboo flooring and bamboo plywood?

Answer: bamboo plywood is made by laminating (gluing) strips of bamboo, and these names refer to the orientation of the strips. We’ll compare the first two, first.

Flat Grain is also creatively known as “flat/horizontal cut” or “flat sawn”. Strips are laid flat along their lengths. Edge Grain‘s alter egos are “vertical cut” or “quartersawn”, and involve strips laid down on their short-sides, as shown below*:

flat and edge grain construction in bamboo plywood
*Linear-Ply and Single-Ply shown, respectively. Products also available in 3-Ply.

In turn, these two strip orientations create two different looks:

nodes in flat grain bamboo plywood nodes in edge grain bamboo plywood

At a glance, Flat Grain looks much more like bamboo because it shows off wider nodes. While these nodes are still present in Edge Grain, they’re less noticeable, creating a more even look.

A related but different cut is End Grain: affectionately trademarked by us as PlybooSquared. PlybooSquared is made by cutting strips off of a sheet of laminated bamboo (its ends), and then laminating those strips together into a new sheet, so that all you see are those rectangular ends.

end grain bamboo plywood construction

end grain bamboo plywood construction

close-up of end grain (PlybooSquared) bamboo plywood PlybooSquared logo

A final trick to remembering the differences: lay your hands out flat in front of you, fingers together. Think of your knuckles as knots in the bamboo, and there you have Flat Grain. Clap your hands together with your pinkies on the desk and presto, you have Edge Grain! Bend your fingers so that you’re looking at your fingertips, and there you have PlybooSquared.


Michelle Dong is a media assistant at Smith & Fong, has a terrible weakness for high-res images of Plyboo installations, and often lurks on the company’s Facebook fan page.