inclusion is the decay of the tree bark near the junction of a limb
and the tree trunk or the crotch area of a tree. This results in pieces of bark being
present in lumber or burls. Bark inclusions can add
"character" to wood and are often attractive.
Birdseye is a
relatively rare kind of grain pattern or figure resulting from
localized distortions in the growth rings. Some
woods can exist with large numbers of small round
"defects" that resemble the eyes of birds. The density of
the eyes ranges from sparse to dense.
burl is a wart like, deformed growth caused by an injury or
infection or the existence of an unformed bud. In any case,
the result is that the tree cells divide and grow excessively and
unevenly in a process somewhat analogous to cancer cells in a
mammal. Burls are sometimes called tumors on wood. Trees with burls
continue to grow otherwise normally. Continued growth follows the
contour of the original deformity, producing all manner of twists,
swirls and knots in the wood fiber. Usually, this results in wood
that has a spectacular pattern.
Curly woods have contortions
in grain direction sometimes reflect light differently as one moves
down the grain and this creates an appearance of undulating waves
known as curly grain. It is frequently described as looking like a
wheat field in a mild wind, and can be so strong an effect that your
eyes will swear that a flat piece of wood has a wavy surface.
crotch is caused by the forces exerted within the tree to support a
main branch where it joins the trunk. This process causes the wood
fibers to twist and compress, creating a somewhat symmetrical
pattern of figures and grains that are beautiful.
caused by contortions in grain direction such that light is
reflected differently at different portions of the grain, creating
an appearance of undulating waves, also called a
"washboard" effect. Fiddleback figure is a form of
curly figure where the curls are very tight and fairly uniform,
generally running perpendicular to the grain and across the entire
width of a board. The name comes from the fact that such wood became
popular to use on the backs of violins (fiddles), and nowadays
guitars, because the figure is frequently very lively and attractive
and such wood generally has good resonance properties.
Figure is the form
of the grain and color patterns in wood that give it a unique
appearance. There are many factors or characteristics that go into
making up the figure and is heavily influenced by how the wood is
Grain is the
stripes in the wood created by growth rings. Different woods have
distinct grain patterns. The grain is caused by the fact that trees
in non-temperate zones of the world grow at different rates in the
summer (late growth) than they do in the spring (early growth), and
the density and coloration of the early and late growth can vary significantly.
In temperate zones, there is no early and late growth, so the wood
tends to have a uniform grain but may still have significant color
is the inner layers of
wood that are in
the center of the tree and have ceased to contain living cells.
Heartwood is generally darker and denser than sapwood.
Spalting is a dark black vein caused by a pattern of bacterial rot
in dead wood that once stabilized often looks like a black ink line
of great irregularity drawn through the wood. Spalting can be
encouraged by keeping a dead tree moist.
means cutting a log where the growth rings of the wood are cut at
between 45 and 90 degrees to the surface of the board. This gives a
shorter, tighter looking grain and produces a “vertical” and
uniform pattern grain.
Quilted figure has
bulges (often similar to pillows) that are elongated and closely
crowded. Quilted grain often looks three-dimensional.
is the outer layers of wood between the bark and the heartwood that
contain the sap. Sapwood will mature into Heartwood as the tree
grows. Sapwood appears lighter in color than the heartwood.
Spalting is a
pattern of bacterial rot in dead wood that Causes color changes in
wood including black
lines or colored blotches.
Wood-- Wood can be
professionally stabilized with a process that injects acrylics into
the wood and results in wood that is resistant to temperature
changes, humidity extremes, UV rays, saltwater, many acids and
solvents. Stabilized wood does provide a bit of color/figure
enhancement and a high degree of permanent durability.
A form of
"defect" or "character" in wood where there are
numerous elongated "spots" throughout the wood where it
has been eaten away generally by beetles. Sometimes the eaten away
area is filled in by some kind of natural process so that there are
no voids but just discolored areas. This is usually in the form of
elongated worm-shaped areas, but may also occur as spots depending
on the cut of the wood and other factors.