Understanding the Basics of Wood Grain

Carpentry is an art that can easily take a lifetime to master. As a novice woodworker, the most fundamental knowledge one can possess is the nature of wood grain. When properly understood, the grain of the wood can be worked with rather than against, thus allowing the joy and success of carpentry to manifest.

The grain of wood refers to the cells that comprise lumber. Cells in their simplest form are bunched together to form the trunk of a tree. These cells grow vertically in ideal conditions and make up the length of a trees’ trunk. These cells, depending on the wood, are very small in diameter, but very long in length. For an in-depth understanding of woodgrain, visit Woodmagazine.com

You can identify the grain of wood by looking at the parallel stripes that run in a common direction along its length or width, depending on how it was cut from its origin log. The grain of the wood is much like that of a cats fur. To pet against the direction of its fur will surely end in disaster. If you pet a cat with the direction of its fur, the cat will purr. Wood is much the same. Sawing or planing against the grain is difficult and will damage the wood. Cutting with the grain is easy and clean. If you intend to cut across the grain of the wood, the proper tool, like a crosscut saw, is designed for this use and will ensure a proper cut.

By learning how the grain of the wood is formed, we can easily approach our projects from a place of knowledge and understanding. Working with the grain is the way in which a carpenter labors with ease and obtains good results. Albert Einstien says it best in his quote, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”