Author Topic: How to tell the look of wood?  (Read 2408 times)

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Offline Michael_Swe

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How to tell the look of wood?
« on: March 03, 2013, 05:02 PM »
Hi.
I'm kind of new to buying solid wood. I have ripped, resawed and planed some oak for a couple of projects at home. How can I tell how the wood will look before taking it home from the lumber yard?

These soon-to-be-panels look very different. I would like to have more of the lively looking wood to the left. But how can I tell if I have found it before resawing?

83577-0

Thanks
//Michael

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Offline Chris Wong

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Re: How to tell the look of wood?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 03:43 AM »
Michael,

The boards on the left are flat sawn.  The boards on the right are either rift sawn or quarter sawn.

To determine whether a board is flat, rift or quarter sawn, look at the end grain.  A flat sawn board will have growth rings running from edge to edge.  A rift sawn board has growth rings running at approximately 45-degrees to the face and a quarter sawn board has growth rings running perpendicular (or near perpendicular) to the face of the board.
Chris Wong, http://FlairWoodworks.com
First Festool was a free pencil.
Shipping live-edge cribbage boards around the world since 2010.

Offline Michael_Swe

  • Posts: 362
Re: How to tell the look of wood?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 12:42 PM »
Thanks.
That makes sense. How would i know the color? The left wood has nicer colors as well (to my eyes). Is it considered ok to bring a small plane to the lumber yard and take of some of the surface of the raw wood? How should I do this? Ask first, or just plane some?

Apart from the different looks given by different sawing, are there other things to consider when choosing? What I mean is: Will I loose something else in terms of wood stability, splintering, etc if I go with flat sawn rather than rift sawn? The reason I ask this is that almost every furniture at furniture shops appears to have rift sawn wood. Did they chose this because it's better in some way?

I realize that my questions are best answered by years and years of experience. I fully understand that this thread won't make me a stellar wood selector. But it might make it a little easier.. I hope I'm not offending any pros out there by belittling the wood selection art into a simple forum thread..

Regards
a humble newbie trying to learn

Offline Chris Wong

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Re: How to tell the look of wood?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 05:27 PM »
Michael,

Once you're familiar with what different woods look like, you have a pretty good idea what it looks like under the rough-sawn surface.  You probably already know what red oak, maple and pine look like.  Of course, different boards of the same wood (even from the same tree) may vary in colour so you never really know until you see it.  It is a good idea to bring a hand plane to the lumber yard.  I would for permission before using it.

Solid wood moves across the growth rings the most, so a flat sawn board will change in width the most.  It is also the most prone to warping.  A quartersawn will be the least prone to warping and movement in width is minimal.  I think that most furniture shops use rift sawn wood because of its appearance, but stability is a plus as well.  When making legs, rift sawn wood exhibits straight grain on all faces - another plus.

Everybody likes to talk about tools and techniques, but wood selection, I think, is even more important.  I spend a lot of time for every project selecting the best wood for the components.
Chris Wong, http://FlairWoodworks.com
First Festool was a free pencil.
Shipping live-edge cribbage boards around the world since 2010.