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What is Wood Grain?

Wood grain refers to the lines that naturally appear in lumber. They are a byproduct of the sawing pattern used when the mill first cut the boards of a piece of wood in relation to the angle of the existing growth rings. Since growth varies from tree species to species and from year to year, the rings appear consistent but unique like a finger print. Wood grain is important for more reasons that simply aesthetic purposes. If a board has been cut so as to show a tremendous amount of grain, then that will affect how that board dries and absorbs finishing stains.

To control the grain of boards, saw mills pay special attention to the direction in which a log is cut. The most common method for cutting is the quarter sawing, which will cut a log into even boards that form parallel plains. The lines of the grain will appear to run consistently along the length of the board. Flat sawing is the other most popular method for cutting logs into usable shapes of lumber, but the grain patterns it produces are considered unappealing. Therefore, flat sawed lumber is used for internal construction. Finishing wood and veneers are often created using sawing methods like rift or radial because these allow for greater control over the grain direction, which increases the beauty of the finished wood project.

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