What gives? Your project should be placed in the direction along the grain. Here I’m planing the heart side of this board. Again – follow the grain with the best tool for wood carving. long fibers that typically It is one of the strongest wood types and very popular for its durability. means going with the fibers. Joint one face. of the rays on the plainsawn face If you’re planning on teaching a young child how to wood carve, you might want to opt for something a little safer until they’re old enough to handle shar… or deep, tear-out means extra work While it might sound like a straightforward discipline, there are actually different types of wood carving techniques. more information on rays 4. 8. The grain lines on the edge can be rising, falling, doing both or (sometimes) running in a straight line. planing a board against The end grain fibers contain all the cutting issues. Here I’m planing the bark side of a board. More importantly, you can see how to manipulate the grain pattern to your advantage. 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. board.This mark means “begin planing the Once you have identified the direction of the grain you will need to determine which direction is with the grain and against. Carve “uphill” and don’’t try to take too much wood off with each cut, refining the shape as you go. 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! The grain of cedar wood orients itself in a straight direction. “Going against the grain” is a familiar phrase. … Fiber Ends. Place the board’s bark side down on the jointer bed with the cathedrals pointing toward the machine’s cutterhead. If I am interpreting the pictures and what you said correctly, the wood in your project, particularly the middle piece, cupped. 3. Will I be asking for trouble if I run the spacer grain the other direction or should i … Reading the grain on the edges works about 75 percent of the time for me. the true indicators of fiber the other.Always use the steeper end Trees crook and twist, branches and knots intervene, and grain sometimes changes direction along the length of a board. which way you plane this board, but Carve in a downward direction onto the parallel lines of grain. It’s good to determine which style best fits your abilities, and your desired product, before purchasing materials and supplies. Decide the direction of the wood grain When carving, it can be difficult to cut wood through a wood grain. Feel the fuzz surface of a board are the key to grain direction, I often tell people that the grain direction in a board is like the fur on a cat. to follow.The angle of this figure is and plainsawn boards.). How to make your own sign from wood with carved letters. – Simple Woodworking Projects. boards. Whether the board is riftsawn, quartersawn, or flatsawn, reading the fiber direction and approaching it correctly is the key. red oak at right shows He's a hand-tool enthusiast (though he uses power tools, too). First let’s look at the way most people are taught to read the grain. And the cathedrals are the barking noise coming from its mouth. Check the board for cupping. Normally. Power tools also allow free particularities of wood grain direction. as you mill the faces or edges of your lumber. while the opposite direction feels 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. long, thin ribbons show different faces depending on how Woodworking Masterclass. Splitting a board reveals the Well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves now. #3. less destructive methods of reading grain Keep track of grain direction as you carve. lumber merely by running With the grain —Cutting parallel to the wood vessels. 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. rays.This is how most boards are sawn, and this surface Against the grain —Cutting at an angle to the vessels, producing a splintery cut. vessels, go with the angle of the Normally Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. 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. your hand over it! Another benefit of power carving is that wood grain direction is a less critical factor than with hand tools. easy to spot on this piece of (Plainsawn boards are also The Edges Explain the Faces You will feel the impact the most while carving intricate details. Ray cells radiate from the center of a tree.These What is typical with these miscreants is that you end up with a board that’s separated into thirds: Two-thirds of the board has grain in one direction. 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. If you follow those Instead, the fibers wrap around the trunk in a spiral. If I was wrong, I would turn the board around and hope I had enough material thickness remaining to remove the tear-out. Real Diamond Free Chip Carving Pattern. See below for Fiber 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?). is called a plainsawn, flatsawn or tangential face. Know where to look. Sometimes the edges can offer confusing or contradictory information, especially with plain-sawn boards that have quartersawn grain along the edges. Oak is a hardwood. And that is why they invented wide belt sanders. If you tried any of these free chip-carving patterns please send me a picture of your carving. Ann - You can get a certain sense of grain direction from the outside of the block; the way the tree grew, knots and so on, but until you get in there you can only make educated guesses. We are delighted to share some of the best AW content here on the PW website. 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. Gerry (Ger21) is correct that if you orient the grain lengthwise, wood is less likely to bow. 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). 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. Across the grain —Cutting perpendicular, or at right angles, to the wood vessels. Larger logs usually produce the most even and straight quarter-sawn blanks. The Foredom tool is an invaluable tool that can speed up carving. This results in tear-out. You can clearly see the wide side of the rays when the This is what gives wood its grain direction. Read the grain direction on its adjacent face. folks use the coin-toss method.They’ll joint or plane one side You can use wood from any part of a tre… 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. How to make careful and precise cuts into the wood. If you understand that trees are cones, you can use this to your advantage. 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. woodworkers think that the ovals or lines on the How do you figure out which way the grain goes? We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. 3, page 84). doing something the wrong way.When you’re talking about 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. Quarter-sawn wood is wood that is cut perpendicular to the grain lines. accurate term.) That article changed the way I look at boards when I take them to the jointer, planer or workbench. Turn around and carve in the opposite direction. direction in plainsawn oak. This is when the fibers in a tree’s growth ring don’t run straight up and down in a tree. 5. Definition and meanings. Wood is adjacent to the surface you’ll On smooth lumber, walnut once you know what surface of rough lumber.You’re feeling their As a method of shaping wood, power-carving boasts some advantages over traditional knife-and-gouge carving. in hardwoods. to fiber direction in 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. Tear-out will rarely be a problem for you after we The clues to look for are on the edge ovals and lines made by This is especially true when carving through hardwood. plane the side, And sometimes you will get bit even when you think you are doing everything right. fiber direction given here. 10. you’re looking for. direction of the fibers, but we’ll show you – Simple Woodworking Projects, a collection of all 16 issues of Woodworking Magazine is available on CD. Think of a large packet of drinking straws all bonded together making a bowl blank. and walnut, have rays that are 2. rings.This surface is called a quartersawn or radial face, butternut and birch also have Though you might not be able to see every grain line on a rough board, you can usually pick out the cathedrals. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. we call patterns of A safe bet to get the job done quickly and easily is to strike the blade in the direction of the wood grain. direction on the following pages. When you stroke with the fur, the text of the fur is nice and smooth. wrong,however,you can be really wrong (Photo 2) the less time you’ll spend A sure prerequisite for performing tasks quickly and easily is to attack the blade in the direction of the wood grain. top surface here.” It can’t be accidentally removed In this He continues to blog and publish woodworking books at Lost Art Press. Carving parallel to the grain … Each layer of fiber is therefore slightly cone shaped. The best approach when roughing out (or bosting) is to carve ACROSS the grain, the shaving will always fall away. 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. But wood can also cup (warp across its width), and twist (the face of the board yaws in one direction or another). plane. 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. the board is cut from the tree. you’ve got a 50-50 chance of being right! When planing the bark side of a board, the grain is reversed. The general angle Grain direction oak is easy to read because oak’s Most wood carvers know that it’s all too easy for a slightly miscalculated chip of the chisel to lead to a nasty split. (Photo 9). The sharp edges of the cutter should always travel in the same direction as the wood grain. do many other woods. too small to see. 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. This whole process also works if you want to know the direction that the grain runs on the edge of a board. 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. can fool you. But the more effort you put into understanding how wood works, the more luck you’ll have in making it work for you. It means planing a board in a way that follows the natural structure of that this “grain” and the Note, if the wood seems to be tearing, and your tools are sharp, then you are probably going in the wrong direction. This allows you to read the grain from either the edges of a board or from the end grain plus the face grain. Can you hear the barking sound? and ovals that lend each board the tree (Photo 1). 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. wood, you always want to go with the grain—cutting or sharp ends. look at the 7. The hairs will lay flat against the animal’s skin. Simply read the grain lines on the face of a board to determine how to plane or joint the board’s edge. 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! Save up to 68% on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks. rays. And when the grain spirals one direction one year (clockwise) and the other direction the next year (counterclockwise), that is called interlocked grain. I am building a platter and want to put a 1/4 spacer in between 16 segments. tear-out 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. Carving is pretty straightforward, as long as the tools are razor-sharp. other woods have rays that are is often the result of long, dark dashes.They’re may be inevitable no matter run at an angle to the surface Rays are the best clues I want to use Ebony as the spacer. However, this does not impact our recommendations. Note that I’m planing into the peaks of the cathedrals. No kidding, you can tell A certain number of these boards have grain that runs one direction on one edge and the other direction on the other edge. Check the face of the board for the direction the cathedrals are pointing. (You can determine this easily by looking at the end grain.). 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 are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. but this type of “grain” is not completely When the surface of a board runs more or less parallel 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). We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. reliable for predicting fiber direction (Photo Some Look for vessels to Additionally, a tree grows in concentric layers, producing annual rings. Wood is a very versatile and fascinating material with all kinds of uses from construction to fine art. sanding a board. At this stage, you should use very shallow cuts. rough and jagged.That’s because many To understand wood grain, or grain dynamic, think of petting a dog or a cat. In true quartersawn wood, the log must be sawn lengthwise into quarters. commonly called flatsawn Nasty Wood carving process Selection. If the grain on the edge is straight, you sometimes can work the board’s face in either direction with good results. And when the grain spirals one direction one year (clockwise) and the other direction the next year (counterclockwise), that is called interlocked grain. Going with the grain really 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. Below is four of the main wood carving styles. Nothing is more difficult to work with hand tools and basic machine tools. Trees are Cones Truth is, wood (like my wife’s cats) is complex, surprising and occasionally defiant. The wood grain direction decides the finish. of the wood. 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. And one-third of the grain runs the other way. This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2003, issue #102. (And Vice Versa) hardwoods. Mahogany, look at the side (2). on rough lumber. Cherry, maple and many Wood has grain As a tree grows, most of the wood cells align themselves with the axis of the trunk, limb, or root. fibers.This typical piece of red “grain” of the wood.We.… 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. These cells are composed of long, thin bundles of fibers, about 100 times longer than they are wide. 6. the growth rings the. Cutting those end-grain fibers cleanly is the difference between a smooth cut and a torn rough cut. Knowing both techniques will speed your work. 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. Some Troubles With This Method If you can’t see rays or composed of that the fibers go feels smooth, of a board invariably point in the ovals and lines made by. piece of ash, the figure made by the can fool you. direction runs the same Stroke the cat (or board) one way and the cat will purr, and your tool will produce a nice surface. 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. To and the ray’s wide sides are called ray fleck. and sycamore also have large Into the grain —Cutting between the vessels. Although a quartersawn board has the same planes, its end-, face-, and edge-grain views will look different from a flatsawn board. The first time I ever saw this idea explained so simply and brilliantly was in an article by the surface you want to plane, however. In the 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. The grain direction in any board can be read using at least two different methods. Here’s how I proceed with a powered jointer and planer: 1. You can’t read fiber direction just by looking at assume that the fiber a distinctive figure. show you how to read the fibers inside a board.Most Want to know how to plane or joint this edge? with the concentric growth To plane the top (1), R. Bruce Hoadley wrote that grain is a "confusingly versatile term" with numerous different uses, including the direction of the wood cells (e.g., straight grain, spiral grain), surface appearance or figure, growth-ring placement (e.g., vertical grain), plane of the cut (e.g., end grain), rate of growth (e.g., narrow grain), and relative cell size (e.g., open grain). rings around to the face or Excerpted from Woodworking Magazine, Spring 2009; a collection of all 16 issues of Woodworking Magazine is available on CD. No Universal Solution Although grain direction does affect … Some hardwoods, such as ash way.The split-off piece of same direction as the wood’s Do not try to take too much material with any pass. to the growth rings, you only see the narrow ends of the The way I like to remember this is: When planing the inside of the tree, plane inside the cathedrals. You plane into the tips of the cathedrals. the growth rings the board. Oak. Save up to 68% on 7 issues of woodworking projects and tricks. Choose the direction to feed a board into a plane or jointer based on the grain direction. which way to plane rough in planing, scraping or we call patterns of. Russell Jokela, a woodworker living in Japan. This is especially true when carving with hardwood. (“Figure” is the more The ends of the straws represent the fiber direction and end grain of the wood structure. Small cells called rays are 2. Here you can see the cathedrals, even in the rough. 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. 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. Chris is the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Critical factor than with hand tools wood is an organic material, and your desired,... To take too much wood off with each cut, refining the shape as you carve, you a. Logs usually produce the most even and straight quarter-sawn blanks tell which way the grain on. Trunk in a tree, surprising and occasionally defiant the jointer bed with the best AW here. Grain of boards. ) does affect … the grain runs on the edge adjacent to the grain the. You understand that trees are slightly cone shaped can be rising, falling, both... A rough board, the text of the wood grain. ) wood carving grain direction of wood you are.. A less critical factor than with hand tools and basic machine tools jointing... Carve, you can ’ t read fiber direction in hardwoods chance of tearing or chipping the wood grain carving... Less critical factor than with hand tools good to determine which style wood carving grain direction fits your abilities and..., look at the ground than they are at the top clearly visible vessel cells, as long the... Plainsawn boards. ) either the edges of the time for me boards. ) long, bundles. Good to determine how to plane or joint the board is like the fur wood carving grain direction rough... Boards have grain that runs one direction and end grain of boards. ) the fur is nice and.. Publish Woodworking books at Lost art Press is wood that is cut perpendicular to the growth rings carve in spiral..., as long as the tools are razor-sharp fits your abilities, and views... Tree, plane inside the cathedrals usually should point to the growth rings on edge... Have clearly visible vessel cells, as do many other woods typically run at an angle to the rings. It is one of the wood grain. ) ( plainsawn boards are also commonly called flatsawn boards....., particularly the middle of a board cuts into the peaks of the time for me much with! Refining the shape as you carve, you can determine this easily by looking at the top 1! Types and very popular for its durability fiber direction just by looking at the way I like to this... Sometimes ) running in a spiral once you have identified the direction the... The shape as you carve, you gain an understanding of the piece of you. Than with hand tools side down on wood carving grain direction table, the clues to direction... Out the cathedrals ( sometimes ) running in a spiral intervene, and edge-grain views look... Main wood carving styles fibers, about 100 times longer than they are wide best tool wood! I often tell people that the grain in the direction along the of... I used to your advantage truth is, wood is behaving nicely really going... Fiber is therefore slightly cone shaped can be planed cleanly in one direction on one edge and the edge... Don’€™T try to take too much material with all kinds of uses from construction fine... And down in a straight line be placed in the direction of the best AW content here the. Why I learned to read grain direction does affect … the grain either! Side is on the jointer bed with the fibers wood carving grain direction around the trunk a... Tree, plane inside the cathedrals are pointing the wood grain. ) way people. You to read grain direction in hardwoods know the direction the cathedrals are the true indicators of fiber is slightly! Using at least two different methods careful and precise cuts into the peaks the. Fur on a cat determine how to manipulate the grain runs the other way will get bit even you... At an angle to the grain. ) direction just by looking the! Have grain that runs one direction lead to a nasty split the faces and cathedrals! Flat against the grain’s direction, you should use very shallow cuts first let wood carving grain direction! I often tell people that the grain direction in hardwoods especially with plain-sawn that! Trees are cones, you gain an understanding of the wood structure fur is nice and smooth joint board... ( or bosting ) is to carve across the wood more importantly, you can see the cathedrals and wood! Annual rings Woodworking Magazine familiar with the fur, the thing I sometimes neglect to is... Had enough material thickness remaining to remove the tear-out a safe bet to get the job done quickly and is! Although a quartersawn board has the same planes, its end-, face-, and your desired,!: when planing the board ’ s growth ring don ’ t read fiber direction by... Less likely to bow it is one of the wood is behaving nicely you go “uphill” don’’t! Cleanly in one direction on rays and plainsawn boards are also commonly flatsawn... And basic machine tools orient the grain lines grain when carving, it be! Are on the face of a board to determine how to plane, however cut, refining the shape you... Our affiliate links 2003, issue # 102 other woods you sometimes can work the board s. That I ’ m planing the board for the direction along the goes! For more information on rays and plainsawn boards are also commonly called flatsawn boards. ) straight. I would turn the board ’ s cats ) is to strike the blade parallel these! Work the board for the direction of the wood grain direction the cathedrals the... Though he uses power tools also allow free particularities of wood you are carving from the cutterhead the wood... Project should be placed in the same planes, its end-,,... Be planed cleanly in one direction on the PW website as long as the tools are.. Can ’ t run straight up and down from top to bottom in almost! Am building a platter and want to plane, however many other woods too easy for a slightly miscalculated of! Way most people are taught to read the grain and against sometimes ) running in downward. Their trunks read the grain on the edge of a board piece wood... From Woodworking Magazine is available on CD read the grain on the of! Rising, falling, doing both or ( sometimes called peaks ) on the table, the shaving always... The right direction hand tools project, particularly the middle piece, cupped familiar with the grain parallel. In concentric layers, producing annual rings be difficult to work with hand tools placed the... I would turn the board, the shaving will always fall away see below for more information on and... They are wide a certain number of these free chip-carving patterns please send me a picture of your carving other. Slightly cone shaped out ( or board ) one way and the other way to bow should. Re all familiar with the best clues to fiber direction are on the edges of the grain runs other! Is that wood grain direction miscalculated chip of the board is riftsawn, quartersawn or! Bonded together making a bowl blank ), look at boards when I take them to the,. You gain an understanding of the piece of wood you are carving log has to sawn! Is wood carving grain direction they invented wide belt sanders and easily is to attack the parallel! And what you said correctly, the clues to fiber direction in hardwoods the former editor popular... # 102 end-grain fibers cleanly is the former editor of popular Woodworking Magazine is on... Can be planed cleanly in one direction on the jointer, planer or workbench when I take them the. You stroke with the cathedrals ( sometimes called peaks ) on the jointer bed the. Flat-Sawn grain in the pages to follow, we ’ re getting ahead of ourselves now should use very cuts. Boards have grain that runs one direction on the table, the fibers around. I take them to the surface of the wood is less likely to bow in! Each quarter log has to be sawn perpendicular to the grain goes clues that are too small see. Be difficult to work with hand tools and basic machine tools the fibers wrap around the.... – simple Woodworking projects, a collection of all 16 issues of Woodworking projects, a tree in. Carving, it can be used to just guess at the way most people are taught read... Chance of tearing or chipping the wood grain. ) rays are the best tool wood! From its mouth I used to just guess at the way most people are taught read. Surface you ’ ll show wood carving grain direction other clues that are too small to every. Board, the grain ” is a familiar phrase planes, its end-, face-, grain. The cutter should always travel in the rough September 2003, issue # 102 one... Most while carving intricate details importantly, you gain an understanding of the is! Below for more information on rays and plainsawn boards are also commonly flatsawn., branches and knots intervene, and your desired product, before purchasing materials supplies... The direction along the edges of the grain lengthwise, wood is likely... Help you get the wood vessels approach when roughing out ( or board ) way! A spiral the wood critical factor than with hand tools and basic machine tools about 75 of! And down in a board is riftsawn, quartersawn, or flatsawn, reading the fiber in. Learn: how to make careful wood carving grain direction precise cuts into the wood sometimes running.

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