The gelatinous layer (G-layer) of tension wood fibres in hardwood contributes to the mechanical function of the living tree and has significant consequences on properties of solid wood. Its size, shape and structure observed by optical or electron microscopy exhibits characteristic anatomical features. However, we found that sectioning of non-embedded wood samples results in an uncontrolled swelling of the G-layer. In order to assess this artefact, the shape and thickness of the G-layer was monitored by serial sections from an embedded wood sample, from its trimmed transverse face to that located several hundreds of micrometres deep. The results revealed that the initial cutting before embedding produced a border effect responsible for the swollen nature, which is similar to sections from non-embedded material. After a conventional embedding technique was applied, a section of at least 30 micrometres below the trimming surface is required to observe an un-swollen G-layer.