General Purpose Tools

Understanding Wood


What wood wants

Wood is one of the most versatile materials known. You can coax it into uncountable forms. However It exhibits extremely complex behavior, as if it were still living. This tome dives deep into woodology, and returns with great insight into what wood wants. It is essential understanding for anyone wishing to master working with wood.

-- KK 05/19/13



A knot is the basal portion of a branch whose structure becomes surrounded by the enlarging stem. Since branches begin with lateral buds, knots can always be traced back to the pith of the main stem.





Various shapes of red pine have been dried and superimposed on their original positions on an adjacent log section. The great tangential than radical shrinkage causes squares to become diamond-shaped, cylinders to become oval. Quarter-sawn boards seldom warp, but flat sawn boards cup away from the pith.



A wafer cut from a kiln-dried plank of white ash shows no symptoms of stress (left). Another section from the same plank, after resawing (center) reveals the casehardened condition (tension in core, compression in shell). Kiln operators cut fork-shaped sections that reveal casehardening when prongs curve inward (right).



Most of the boards in the drying shed at left are restrained by the weight of the others. At right is a similar, simpler setup, where the wood is protected by a sheet of corrugated plastic. In both cases, the boards are stacked in the sequence they came off the saw.



Red oak end grain cut with a ripsaw (right), which mangles the cell structure, and with a crosscut saw (left), which severs the fibers cleanly.

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