This paper presents the application of FeaSANNT, an evolutionary algorithm for optimization of artificial neural networks, to the training of a multi-layer perceptron for identification of defects in wood veneer. Given a fixed artificial neural network structure, FeaSANNT concurrently evolves the input feature vector and the network weights. The novelty of the method lies in the implementation of the embedded approach in an evolutionary feature selection paradigm. Experimental tests show that the proposed algorithm produces high-performing solutions with robust learning results. A significant reduction of the set of veneer features is obtained. Experimental comparisons are made with a previous method based on statistical filtering of the input features and a standard genetic wrapper algorithm. In the first case, FeaSANNT greatly reduces the feature set with no degradation of the neural network accuracy. Moreover, FeaSANNT entails lower design costs, since feature selection is fully automated. In the second case, the proposed algorithm achieves superior results in terms of identification accuracy and reduction of the feature set. FeaSANNT involves also lower computational costs than the standard evolutionary wrapper approach and eases the algorithm design effort. Limited overlapping is observed between the patterns of features selected by the three algorithms. This result suggests that the full feature set contains mainly redundant attributes.