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Reading wood grain?

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  • Reading wood grain?

    I’ve always struggled to “read the grain” of oak, or unfortunately every other wood type too. I have a lathe, and a jointer, and often attempt to glue together strips into layers and layers on top, to make a block to turn; seems every time there are “a few” pieces which do not behave like the others - leading me to think i misread the grain on said pieces.

    does anyone have tips for me, with pictures please, of which features indicating “the direction of grain?” Oak & Cherry are my most frequently used woods, but I’ll take any and all input I can get!

    here’s a pic of a cherry block I put together that had those 2 notable different pieces.
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  • #2

    Re: Reading wood grain?

    What you have there is the growth rings going in the opposite directions which when turned will give an interesting pattern inside and outside of a bowl, I guess the question of "will it be nice" is in the eye of the beholder, its not usual to glue pieces together unless it is a segmented piece, but having said that I do then wonder how to hide the joints or make them less obvious, I just gave away a bowl with joints in it and it was gratefully received, its also amazing what some people will buy.
    Now were you talking about growth rings or the grain direction, if its grain direction and gluing all those pieces together I don't know how you would plan it and turn it without having a problem somewhere during the turning, even a one piece block on a lathe gives you problems to overcome.
    I see you have lined up the growth rings in the lower part of your picture but when you cut the 45 degree corner it all changes and it will change even more when turned, I think enjoy what you do or get bigger blocks and avoid gluing pieces together or get into segmenting with contrasting colors.
    DoubleAron likes this.


    • #3

      Re: Reading wood grain?

      Here's a rough picture of grain direction in your glued up block. Some times it's difficult to distinguish between grain and sawblade marks, so this is just the general grain direction.

      (pardon my lack of artistry)

      Click image for larger version

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      • #4

        Re: Reading wood grain?

        This is a good book to have.

        Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology: Hoadley, R. Bruce: 9781561583584: Books -
        Kayak Jim likes this.