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Wood grain

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Wood grain describes the , and appearance of the wood . This is often important in its effect on woodworking techniques (e.g. against the grain).

In describing the alignment of the wood in the tree a distinction may be made. Basic grain descriptions and types include:

  • straight - grain which runs in a single direction along the cut wood, a product of a straight growing tree
  • cross - grain in which some cells grow out from the major growth axis of the tree
  • spiral - grain which develops as the trunk of the tree twists in development
  • interlocked (roey grain) A step beyond spiral grain occurring when growth rings in a twisting trunk develop misaligned grain
Maple burl, not to be confused with bird's eye maple

In addition, there are a few special grain alignments. Their rarity often promotes the value of both the raw material, and the finished work it becomes a part of. These include:

  • bird's eye
  • quilted
  • fiddleback
  • curly
  • tiger

In describing the application of a woodworking technique to a given piece of wood, the direction of the technique might be:

  • with the grain
  • against the grain
  • across the grain
Sketch of A–Quarter-sawn & B–flat-sawn

In a wider sense, the term grain may also be applied to the orientation of the cut, the way a given piece of wood has been sawn:

  • flat-grain: flat-sawn or plain sawn,
  • edge grain: quarter-sawn or rift-sawn or straight-grained, and
  • end grain.