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Laramie Knifeworks -- Common Wood Definitions

 

 

Bark Inclusion-- Bark 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-- 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-- A 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-- 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.

Feather Crotch-- Feather 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.

Fiddleback-- Fiddleback is 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-- 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 cut.

Grain-- 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 variations. 

Heartwood-- Heartwood 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.

Pen-Line Spalt-- Pen-line 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.

Quartersawn-- Quarter-sawing 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-- Quilted figure has bulges (often similar to pillows) that are elongated and closely crowded. Quilted grain often looks three-dimensional. 

Sapwood-- Sapwood 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. 

Spalted-- Spalting is a pattern of bacterial rot in dead wood that Causes color changes in wood including black lines or colored blotches.

Stabilized 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.

Wormy-- 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.

Source: Hobbithouseinc.com

 

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