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What is Cross Grain?

Cross grain is when a board of wood is cut so the growth lines in the wood are not parallel with the long edge of the board. Instead the grain lines run diagonally, or cross, the board. Plywood is a common cross grain wood that is used in the construction of kitchen cabinetry. The surprising factor is that cross grain wood is considered to be stronger and more durable than solid wood. Solid wood will contract and expand depending on the temperature and humidity level of its environment. Painting or finishing wood will not impede this process completely, so newly constructed cabinets made of solid wood can be expected to change dimension and shape as they settle and dry. This change in the properties of the wood can actually cause it to develop weak spots that can result in broken joints, splitting and cracking. With cross grain wood, the stress of moisture fluctuations and temperature changes is minimized , which then results in fewer structural changes. This is one reason why plywood is often used to construct cabinetry frames and substructures.

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