Wood grain patterns are created by the arrangement of the fibres as a tree grows and the lighter and darker growth rings are created through the growth seasons. There are different types of grains that are described as straight, wavy, spiral, curling, irregular and interlocking.
• Straight grain runs in one direction and will be relatively straight to the middle of the tree.
• Spiral grain will spiral around the core of the trunk
• Interlocked grain will also spiral around the trunk but reverses direction and interlocks.
Wood grain is used in a few different terms in woodworking for different woodworking techniques and cuts. You may hear the terms like, with the grain or against the grain. Also another term is end grain.
• End grain is what you would be cutting, and see if you were trimming or cutting the length of a piece of timber and you would see part of the growth ring structure.
• Against the grain would be if you were perhaps planing a piece of timber, and you were getting tear outs or the timber was chipping out
• With the grain would be perhaps planing a piece of timber, and your results would be easy going and a smooth finish.
The finest woods are favoured by woodworkers for their straight grain and are easier to work with rather than the other curvy, spiralling and interlocking grains which can be almost impossible to predict when working with.
Although the easier to work and finer woods are favoured, it can also be irresistible to a lot of woodworkers to work with a type of wood with more character in it and also to have more of a challenge when working with the chosen wood.
There are lots of different types of special effects in wood that is known as figured wood. The figure in wood is not the same as the grain in wood. Types of figured wood include bear scratches, birds eye, blister, burl, curl, dimple, fiddleback, flame, ghost, quilted and spalted. The effects in the wood are caused by things like a wound to the trees skin, insect attack, a shock to the tree and also created with different cutting methods of a tree.
The texture of the grain varies from course grained woods which have larger open pores to finer grained woods which have smaller and closer pores. The finer grained woods are easier to get a smoother and finer blemish free finish. Trees that grow evenly throughout the year give a more even grain growth and the trees that grow more and less in different seasons give a more uneven grain growth but produces a more pleasing to the eye appearance.