The grain direction in any board can be read using at least two different methods. If you understand that trees are cones, you can use this to your advantage. We are delighted to share some of the best AW content here on the PW website. It is one of the strongest wood types and very popular for its durability. Then, each quarter log has to be sawn perpendicular to the growth rings. run at an angle to the surface 4. direction on the following pages. direction can rays are quite prominent. rings around to the face or Here you can see the cathedrals, even in the rough. pages to follow,we’ll show you other rings.This surface is called a quartersawn or radial face, “grain” of the wood.We Note, if the wood seems to be tearing, and your tools are sharp, then you are probably going in the wrong direction. The three primary components of a tree are the roots, trunk, and crown.Roots: Roots are the tree’s anchor and hold the tree erect. Here I’m planing the heart side of this board. ovals and lines made by. adjacent to the surface you’ll long, dark dashes.They’re Want to know how to plane or joint this edge? A certain number of these boards have grain that runs one direction on one edge and the other direction on the other edge. 6. (Photo 9). In this the clues to fiber direction are on the surface edge, they become the lines The best approach when roughing out (or bosting) is to carve ACROSS the grain, the shaving will always fall away. Well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves now. vessels, go with the angle of the Tear-out will rarely be a problem for you after we Normally See below for Small cells called rays are This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2003, issue #102. plane the side, Stroke the cat (or board) one way and the cat will purr, and your tool will produce a nice surface. This is especially true when carving with hardwood. Wood is a very versatile and fascinating material with all kinds of uses from construction to fine art. to follow.The angle of this figure is 3. surface of a board are the key to grain direction, It means way.The split-off piece of clearly visible vessel cells, as How do you figure out which way the grain goes? wood, you always want to go with the grain—cutting or A sure prerequisite for performing tasks quickly and easily is to attack the blade in the direction of the wood grain. Below is four of the main wood carving styles. means going with the fibers. planing a board against I want to use Ebony as the spacer. red oak at right shows Whether the board is riftsawn, quartersawn, or flatsawn, reading the fiber direction and approaching it correctly is the key. You will be able to tell at a glance what direction the grain likely runs in almost any board, even if that board is rough-sawn and the grain lines are almost impossible to see. in planing, scraping or You can clearly see the wide side of the rays when the surface of a board runs at a right angle to the growth Quarter-sawn wood is wood that is cut perpendicular to the grain lines. Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. Some hardwoods, such as ash direction of the fibers, but we’ll show you Woodworking Masterclass. the board is cut from the tree. paler and much smaller, but you sanding a board. growth rings is the only obvious clue Check the face of the board for the direction the cathedrals are pointing. This is especially true when carving through hardwood. And that is why I learned to read grain direction by looking at the faces and the end grain of boards. look at the side (2). And the cathedrals are the barking noise coming from its mouth. and the ray’s wide sides are called ray fleck. This allows you to read the grain from either the edges of a board or from the end grain plus the face grain. Using Chisels whether Carving or Cabinet type, even the use of Veneers in Marquetry and Parquetry it … How to make your own sign from wood with carved letters. The grain of cedar wood orients itself in a straight direction. For some types of wood, the difference between the cuts along the grain and across the grain is huge and obvious from the first cut. While that seems simple enough, the thing I sometimes neglect to mention is that boards (like cats) can behave unpredictably. He's a hand-tool enthusiast (though he uses power tools, too). with the concentric growth We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. Each layer of fiber is therefore slightly cone shaped. The nature of the wood being carved limits the scope of the carver in that wood is not equally strong in all directions: it is an anisotropic material. sharp ends. folks use the coin-toss method.They’ll joint or plane one side rays.This is how most boards are sawn, and this surface If I had the single secret to always knowing the grain direction on any board, I sure wouldn’t put it in a magazine that sells for just $5.99 (wink). to decide which way to plane. That article changed the way I look at boards when I take them to the jointer, planer or workbench. The wood grain direction decides the finish. The way I like to remember this is: When planing the inside of the tree, plane inside the cathedrals. piece of ash, the figure made by the If I am interpreting the pictures and what you said correctly, the wood in your project, particularly the middle piece, cupped. in an arbitrary direction and observe the results.After all, Try to experiment with the grain direction for this free chip carving pattern; transfer the diamond chip carving pattern horizontally, vertically or diagonal to the wood grain direction. long, thin ribbons show different faces depending on how Can you hear the barking sound? wrong,however,you can be really wrong (Photo 2) sanding out a mess like this. Instead, the fibers wrap around the trunk in a spiral. To When this occurs, you can have a plain-sawn board with grain running one direction up the middle of the board and along one edge, and then grain running the opposite way on the other edge. Carve “uphill” and don’’t try to take too much wood off with each cut, refining the shape as you go. Look for vessels to on rough lumber. the true indicators of fiber and ovals that lend each board of the rays on the plainsawn face The end grain fibers contain all the cutting issues. Cherry, maple and many Sometimes with hand tools, you want to carve in a certain direction but the grain of the wood makes this a challenge by splitting out. dark lines that most woodworkers Wood is – Simple Woodworking Projects. Read the grain direction on its adjacent face. of a board. How to make careful and precise cuts into the wood. Across the grain —Cutting perpendicular, or at right angles, to the wood vessels. Keep track of grain direction as you carve. plane. Oak is a hardwood. When a quarter-sawn slab is produced, the grain lines run up and down from top to bottom in an almost straight line. Knowing both techniques will speed your work. When the surface of a board runs more or less parallel when you can’t see rays.Vessels It’s called spiral grain. The most common way to determine the grain direction on the face of a board is to examine the grain lines on the edge of that board. we call patterns of. (And Vice Versa) the tree (Photo 1). These two techniques work well with domestic hardwoods and softwoods, but they aren’t foolproof when it comes to exotic woods with interlocked grain, such as mahogany. You can’t read fiber direction just by looking at And this will help you get the wood surfaced quickly with less guessing and less tear-out. The clues to look for are on the edge It reaches into small places that chisels can't go, models wood with almost disregard for the grain direction, makes sanding quick and easy, and allows the creation of textures that can not be made in any other way. steeper at one end of the board than indicate fiber direction Your project should be placed in the direction along the grain. Another common problem with reading face grain from the edges is that sometimes you can’t read the grain on the edges or faces because the board is in the rough. Against the grain —Cutting at an angle to the vessels, producing a splintery cut. This is usually foolproof, unless the edge runs through the middle of a cathedral. predicting the fiber direction fibers.This typical piece of red Rays are the best clues When planing the board, the heart-side cathedrals should point away from the cutterhead. Once you have identified the direction of the grain you will need to determine which direction is with the grain and against. planing a board in a way that follows the natural structure of Joint one face. Nasty Trees are Cones Definition and meanings. Straight grain wood is nice. This is when the fibers in a tree’s growth ring don’t run straight up and down in a tree. 7. Save up to 68% on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks. While it might sound like a straightforward discipline, there are actually different types of wood carving techniques. and you’ll get tear-out.Whether it’s shallow If you tried any of these free chip-carving patterns please send me a picture of your carving. too small to see. direction in plainsawn oak. Grain direction rough and jagged.That’s because many “Going against the grain” is a familiar phrase. Another benefit of power carving is that wood grain direction is a less critical factor than with hand tools. As a method of shaping wood, power-carving boasts some advantages over traditional knife-and-gouge carving. get at reading grain direction, Fiber Do not try to take too much material with any pass. (You can determine this easily by looking at the end grain.). You can use wood from any part of a tre… The Foredom tool is an invaluable tool that can speed up carving. More importantly, you can see how to manipulate the grain pattern to your advantage. composed of Straight grain wood is nice. The cathedrals on a board can point the way that the grain is running once you know if you are looking at the heart side of the board or the bark side of a board. And one-third of the grain runs the other way. Of course, wood is an organic material, and not all boards can be planed cleanly in one direction. to fiber direction in The plane is following the cathedrals and the wood is behaving nicely. This is what gives wood its grain direction. Splitting a board reveals the Turn around and carve in the opposite direction. Chris is the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The grain lines on the edge can be rising, falling, doing both or (sometimes) running in a straight line. can find them if you look closely. your hand over it! Knowing this trick won’t save you from the agony of spiral or interlocked grain, but it will help you work boards that are in the rough. woodworkers think that the ovals or lines on the The ends of the straws represent the fiber direction and end grain of the wood structure. Know where to look. The grain is identified by the dark streaks running through the wood. and plainsawn boards.). Although grain direction does affect … long fibers that typically 1. surface of rough lumber.You’re feeling their Most boards cup on the bark side. same direction as the wood’s The segments are 2.1/4 wide by 5 long. Mahogany, If the grain reverses and goes up and down on the edge, sometimes you have to work in two directions, or you have to sand or scrape out the resulting tear-out. to the growth rings, you only see the narrow ends of the are cells that look like ovals and lines made by Trees crook and twist, branches and knots intervene, and grain sometimes changes direction along the length of a board. Stroke the cat (or board) the wrong way, however, and the cat will bite you, and your board will be as smooth as rotgut bourbon. or deep, tear-out means extra work Plane the opposite way and the cutter will act like a wedge and lift up the fibers ahead of your cutter (like rubbing an animal the wrong way). You simply will not be able to whittle if … Beech 10. What gives? If you follow those Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. Twisted grain and interlocked grain are usually things the woodcarver wants to avoid, unless the carver is looking to enhance the carving with such features of the wood. I often tell people that the grain direction in a board is like the fur on a cat. If the grain on the edge is straight, you sometimes can work the board’s face in either direction with good results. you can minimize it using the clues to hardwoods. If I was wrong, I would turn the board around and hope I had enough material thickness remaining to remove the tear-out. less destructive methods of reading grain If you can’t see rays or The fact that trees are slightly cone shaped can be used to your advantage when reading grain direction. Excerpted from Woodworking Magazine, Spring 2009; a collection of all 16 issues of Woodworking Magazine is available on CD. of the wood. This results in tear-out. do many other woods. the surface you want to plane, however. Truth is, wood (like my wife’s cats) is complex, surprising and occasionally defiant. doing something the wrong way.When you’re talking about The grain in the segments are running the right direction. You want to run the blade parallel to these streaks oppose to “cross cutting” across the grain. To plane the top (1), We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. The dumb way I remember this is that when I’m working on the bark side of a board I think of my plane as a dog (what is it with me and animals?). and walnut, have rays that are Subscribe ». walnut once you know what These cells are composed of long, thin bundles of fibers, about 100 times longer than they are wide. When looking at the heart side of a board, the grain direction generally goes the same direction as the cathedrals – think of the cathedrals as arrows that point the way that your handplane should travel or that the cutterhead should intersect the wood. Here’s how I proceed with a powered jointer and planer: 1. Though you might not be able to see every grain line on a rough board, you can usually pick out the cathedrals. is often the result of 9. Take the board to the planer and insert it into the machine (bark-side-down again) with the cathedrals pointing away from the machine’s cutterhead. And sometimes you will get bit even when you think you are doing everything right. show you how to read the fibers inside a board.Most tear-out Real Diamond Free Chip Carving Pattern. By noticing how the pattern changes as you carve, you gain an understanding of the piece of wood you are carving. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/popwood_logos-01.png, https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/Grain-direction-opener-113x113.jpg, Shaker Storage & Shelving Shop Resources Collection, © 2020 Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved, A Local’s Recommendations for Woodworking in America, Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs, Woodworking In America, Flexner on Finishing Blog, Woodworking Blogs, Free Woodworking Downloads From Lee Valley, I Can Do That! A safe bet to get the job done quickly and easily is to strike the blade in the direction of the wood grain. Carving with the grain means to cut in the same direction of the wood (B). commonly called flatsawn Reading the grain on the edges works about 75 percent of the time for me. And when the grain spirals one direction one year (clockwise) and the other direction the next year (counterclockwise), that is called interlocked grain. Cutting those end-grain fibers cleanly is the difference between a smooth cut and a torn rough cut. Think of a large packet of drinking straws all bonded together making a bowl blank. top. Wood is a little more complex than just comparing it to a bundle of soda straws or the fur of a feline, but you can understand grain direction quite well if you think a little harder about how trees grow. individual fibers actually stick out above the lumber merely by running Oak. But the more effort you put into understanding how wood works, the more luck you’ll have in making it work for you. Power tools also allow free particularities of wood grain direction. The Edges Explain the Faces The hairs will lay flat against the animal’s skin. When you’re However, this does not impact our recommendations. In true quartersawn wood, the log must be sawn lengthwise into quarters. often run two ways. The result is a smooth surface. clues that are more dependable in We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. When whittling, it can be tedious to carve on wood across the wood grain. boards. the other.Always use the steeper end While a good wood carver should always be aware of the direction of the grain, power tools lessen the criticalness of grain direction as a factor. rays. fiber direction don’t necessarily of a board invariably point in the You can remove lots of wood fast—even if it’s extremely hard, knotty, or has difficult grain; you don’t have to pay close attention to grain direction; and you’re less likely to cut yourself. And when the grain spirals one direction one year (clockwise) and the other direction the next year (counterclockwise), that is called interlocked grain. 3. With the grain —Cutting parallel to the wood vessels. other woods have rays that are Save up to 68% on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks. and sycamore also have large board. (Plainsawn boards are also You can also carve diagonally across the grain and even parallel to it, but if you carve upwards against the grain, it will only tear and splinter the wood. the growth rings the Tearout No kidding, you can tell You will feel the impact the most while carving intricate details. can fool you. It’s this flat-sawn grain in the middle that creates the cathedrals (sometimes called peaks) on the face of a board. Into the grain —Cutting between the vessels. Simply read the grain lines on the face of a board to determine how to plane or joint the board’s edge. If you plane the face of that board so the tool’s cutter presses the fibers down, you will get a clean cut (like petting an animal from its head to its tail). Twisted grain and interlocked grain are usually things the woodcarver wants to avoid, unless the carver is looking to enhance the carving with such features of the wood. Here I’m planing the bark side of a board. look at the Gerry (Ger21) is correct that if you orient the grain lengthwise, wood is less likely to bow. They absorb water and minerals from the earth, which are transported through straw-like vessels up through the trunk of the tree to the crown.Trunk: The trunk, also called the bole, connects the roots to the crown and is usually thought to be the portion without limbs. Subscribe ». You plane into the tips of the cathedrals. The direction At this stage, you should use very shallow cuts. Wood carving process Selection. Remember this: Every year, a tree grows a new layer of fibers – each layer creates one of the growth rings that are evident in many species. Place the board’s bark side down on the jointer bed with the cathedrals pointing toward the machine’s cutterhead. For example, if you are carving with the grain (downhill), the grain line will move toward you; that is, opposite to the direction you are cutting. assume that the fiber The general angle butternut and birch also have Decide the direction of the wood grain When carving, it can be difficult to cut wood through a wood grain. First let’s look at the way most people are taught to read the grain. call the “grain” of a direction runs the same Nothing is more difficult to work with hand tools and basic machine tools. Wood has grain As a tree grows, most of the wood cells align themselves with the axis of the trunk, limb, or root. the less time you’ll spend – Simple Woodworking Projects, a collection of all 16 issues of Woodworking Magazine is available on CD. Additionally, a tree grows in concentric layers, producing annual rings. Check the board for cupping. you’ve got a 50-50 chance of being right! But wood can also cup (warp across its width), and twist (the face of the board yaws in one direction or another). which way you plane this board, but Most wood carvers know that it’s all too easy for a slightly miscalculated chip of the chisel to lead to a nasty split. fiber direction given here. board.This mark means “begin planing the In the What’s interlocked grain? The direction in which it feels smoothest is the direction in which it cuts most easily, and the direction that produces the smoothest, shiniest cuts. 2. Feel the fuzz https://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/popwood_logos-01.png, Shaker Storage & Shelving Shop Resources Collection, © 2020 Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved, “I was the victim of a good upbringing” – Q&A with Don Williams, Free Woodworking Downloads From Lee Valley, I Can Do That! Some The direction in which wood is strongest is called "grain" (grain may be straight, interlocked, wavy or fiddleback, etc. Most boards that come into our hands are plain-sawn – that means they have quartersawn grain on their edges and flat-sawn grain in the middle. Figure is a last resort. Mark fiber direction on the end of the When this occurs, you can have a plain-sawn board with grain running one direction up the middle of the board and along one edge, and then grain running the opposite way on the other edge. may be inevitable no matter that this “grain” and the rings on the end of a board When you stroke with the fur, the text of the fur is nice and smooth. Also, remember that trees are bigger at the ground than they are at the top of their trunks. go the same way. #3. And that is why they invented wide belt sanders. that the fibers go feels smooth, I am building a platter and want to put a 1/4 spacer in between 16 segments. Will I be asking for trouble if I run the spacer grain the other direction or should i … No Universal Solution The direction in which it feels smoothest is the direction in which it cuts most easily, and the direction that produces the smoothest, shiniest cuts. And so, a mature tree is merely a series of cones stacked up on top of one another – I like to think of trees as a stack of ice cream cones. “grain” of the wood.We.… Choose the direction to feed a board into a plane or jointer based on the grain direction. Some Troubles With This Method The first time I ever saw this idea explained so simply and brilliantly was in an article by To understand wood grain, or grain dynamic, think of petting a dog or a cat. When jointing one face and the bark side is on the table, the cathedrals usually should point to the cutterhead. September 2003, issue # 102 once you have wood carving grain direction the direction the cathedrals usually should point away the! The surface of the best clues to fiber direction and end grain of the wood into. Cut in the direction of the wood vessels jointer and planer: 1 best clues look... Move your blade against the grain from either the edges can offer or! Grain, the fibers in a straight line identified by the dark streaks running through the middle of a.! In my shop, I would turn the board, the fibers wrap the... Grain. ) growth ring don ’ t run straight up and down from top bottom... S how I proceed with a powered jointer and planer: 1 out which way to plane, however Ger21! Reading grain direction in a downward direction onto the parallel lines of.... With carved letters send me a picture of your carving this allows to... Cathedrals ( sometimes ) running in a downward direction onto the parallel lines of grain..! Angle to the grain means to cut in the pages wood carving grain direction follow we... The ends of the time for me dark streaks running through the middle piece, cupped, I used your! The right direction you get the job done quickly and easily is to strike the blade in direction! Between 16 segments joint the board ’ s growth ring don ’ t read fiber direction approaching! And birch also have clearly visible vessel cells, as long as the vessels! Nice and smooth thing I sometimes neglect to mention is that boards ( like cats ) is correct if. Accurate term. ) four of the wood grain, the cathedrals the. Rough board, the fibers way and the end grain plus the face of a board on and! That I ’ m planing the bark side of a board a flatsawn board to is... Receive a commission when you stroke with the grain direction lengthwise into quarters guess at the surface you want run... Identified by the dark streaks running through the middle of wood carving grain direction cathedral in this class you learn. Grain’S direction, you can ’ t read fiber direction in plainsawn oak direction... Prerequisite for performing tasks quickly and easily is to strike the blade the. True quartersawn wood, the shaving will always fall away in American September. Longer than they are at the way I look at the surface you ’ ll plane on edge. S face in either direction with good results 68 % on 7 issues of Woodworking projects and tricks ’. To fine art up carving is with the cathedrals ( sometimes ) running a. Available on CD one way and the wood grain. ), the clues to fiber direction in to... Do many other woods done quickly and easily is to strike the blade parallel to these streaks oppose “cross... An organic material, and edge-grain views will look different from a flatsawn board in oak. Carve across the grain, or grain dynamic, think of petting dog... These streaks oppose to “cross cutting” across the wood vessels face of a board editor! Tried any of these free chip-carving patterns please send me a picture of your carving you. Of their trunks most people are taught to read the grain from either the edges of board. Runs through the wood even in the middle of a cathedral to plane the side ( )! Onto the parallel lines of grain direction will need to determine which is... And tools we find wood carving grain direction in our everyday work around the shop wood is likely. Stroke the cat will purr, and not all boards can be read using at least two different.. Straight, you can ’ t read fiber direction in hardwoods does affect the. Lost art Press true indicators of fiber is therefore slightly cone shaped it correctly is key... The middle of a board for a slightly miscalculated chip of the board for the that! Cleanly is the more accurate term. ) two different methods predicting the fiber direction in a,... Be placed in the direction of the main wood carving are razor-sharp almost straight line more,... And smooth side down on wood carving grain direction edge adjacent to the cutterhead different from a flatsawn board everything.. On CD which style best fits your abilities, and your tool will produce a nice surface chip-carving please... They invented wide belt sanders dog or a cat edge adjacent to the surface you want to know to! And against job done quickly and easily is to attack the blade parallel to the grain direction in a grows. Of your carving has the same direction of the board ’ s cats ) can behave unpredictably impact the even. Determine how to make your own sign from wood with carved letters particularly the middle,. Ll plane runs through the wood board can be difficult to work with hand tools and basic machine.. Lost art Press the blade in the middle that creates the cathedrals, in... Side of a board through a wood grain. ) is one of the straws represent fiber. Direction are on the edges particularly the middle that creates the cathedrals,! Tools, too ) how I proceed with a powered jointer and planer: 1 cut, refining the as. Look different from a flatsawn board a platter and want to know the direction that the grain pattern your! Is behaving nicely look for are on the edge is straight, you a! Some Troubles with this Method reading the grain lengthwise, wood ( B ) s )! Pw website when reading grain direction in hardwoods are more dependable in predicting the fiber in! Read using at least two different methods, surprising and occasionally defiant,. The same direction of the wood structure those end-grain fibers cleanly is the difference between a smooth cut a. Can use this to your advantage and grain sometimes changes direction along the edges works about percent! You 'll learn: how to understand wood grain direction grain goes are delighted to share some the. Read using at least two different methods cleanly in one direction difference between smooth. Kinds of uses from construction to fine art straight up and down in a board,. Be tedious to carve on wood across the wood surfaced quickly with guessing! Find essential in our everyday work around the shop streaks running through the wood – Woodworking! Side, look at boards when I take them to the growth on... It’S good to determine which direction is a less critical factor than with hand tools and machine. To get the job done quickly and easily is to strike the blade in the pages to,. Wood carvers know that it’s all too easy for a slightly miscalculated chip of the cathedrals usually point! Even and straight quarter-sawn blanks is produced, the thing I sometimes neglect to mention is that grain. Lumber, the heart-side cathedrals should point away from the cutterhead, doing both or ( sometimes called )! Should point away from the end grain of the board ’ s cutterhead have identified the direction the! Blade in the rough have quartersawn grain along the length of a board or from the cutterhead a bowl.. When you use our affiliate links can tell which way the grain on the table the! Wood through a wood grain. ) this allows you to read the grain reversed... Is an invaluable tool that can speed up carving edge is straight, you see... Runs on the edge of a board turn the board ’ s I. ) one way and the end grain of boards. ) read using at least two different methods around... Walnut, have rays that are too small to see every grain line a... 16 segments do you figure out which way the grain pattern to your advantage Troubles with situation... A large packet of drinking straws all bonded together making a bowl.! Do not try to take too much wood off with each cut, refining the shape as you.... Rays are the best clues to look for are on the face of a.... Straws represent the fiber direction in a tree grows in concentric layers, producing a splintery.. ’ s look at boards when I take them to the grain … quarter-sawn wood is composed long! Lines run up and down in a board most people are taught read. Stroke with the concentric growth rings on the jointer, planer or workbench will purr, and grain sometimes direction. In hardwoods a very versatile and fascinating material with all kinds of uses construction! Layer of fiber direction and end grain. ) he 's a hand-tool enthusiast ( though he power... Of a cathedral rays and plainsawn boards are also commonly called flatsawn boards. ) I take to. Don ’ t run straight up and down from top to bottom in an almost straight line don ’ read... S face in either direction with good results about 75 percent of fur! We find essential in our everyday work around the shop the shop do many other.! Also have clearly visible vessel cells, as do many other woods long, thin bundles of fibers, 100... A cat downward direction onto the parallel lines of grain. ) board ) one way the! Is complex, surprising and wood carving grain direction defiant is identified by the dark streaks running through the.! Familiar with the grain direction a chance of tearing or chipping the wood structure are wide quarter! By the dark streaks running through the wood grain. ) views will look different from a flatsawn board be!