Heating logs prior to peeling positively affects the surface properties of veneer as well as the wood-adhesive bond strength. However, the mechanism behind this increase in strength is not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to separate the influence of soaking temperature and peeling temperature on the physical surface properties and bonding quality. Rotary-cut birch (Betula pendula Roth) logs were soaked at 70 °C, and half of them were subsequently cooled to 20 °C prior to peeling. Surface roughness measurements, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), surface integrity testing, color measurements, and wood-adhesive bond testing were conducted with an automated bonding evaluation system. The results showed that logs soaked at 70 °C and peeled at 20 °C had roughness, color, integrity, bond strength, and wetting properties more similar to logs soaked and peeled at 70 °C than those soaked and peeled at 20 °C. In every test conducted, the effect of soaking temperature was greater than the effect of peeling temperature. High-temperature soaking not only caused softening of the material during the peeling process, but it also caused irreversible changes in the wood material, which affected the veneer surface characteristics and bond strength development.