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What is Grain?

Grain is a term for the lines that permeate natural wood. The lines are the result of the tree’s growth rings. These rings are created each year as the tree grows. Because conditions are never the same, the growth rings occur at random intervals which represent the varying amount of thickness that is accumulated in each growing season. The largest determining factor in the orientation the natural wood grain of a board is the result of how the tree was cut at the mill.

A common method of cutting wood logs is to use quarter-sawing which evenly cuts the wood into parallel plains. A less common method is rift sawing in which a log is halved and then boards are cut at radial angles. Rift sawing is rarely used because it has the greatest potential to waste wood, but it is primarily used when a specific style of grain is desired. Though it is much more wasteful than other methods, rift sawing does produce the most stable pieces of wood with the straightest grain lines because it is cut perfectly perpendicular to the tree’s growth rings. Flat sawing is the most efficient and frequently used form of cutting boards because it produces little to no waste, but the grain patterns are considered unappealing for projects.

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