View Poll Results: how do you determine grain direction?

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  • figure/growth rings

    20 47.62%
  • i look for rays

    9 21.43%
  • i try to find a check

    5 11.90%
  • I plane one way and if it tears out, i flip the workpiece around

    21 50.00%
  • what are you talkin'? i'm a power tool guy!

    1 2.38%
  • wood has grain???

    6 14.29%
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  1. #1
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    Default how do you determine grain direction?

    after reading "understanding wood" i feel even more confused about finding the grain direction. i usually use a combination of the options, but want to know how you like to do it. :confused:

    there's no school like the old school.

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  3. #2
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    I never understand what the fuss is about, it always runs parallel with the smooth face surfaces.

    It's a function of how the fibres are compressed during manufacture.

    This is true whether the boards are melamine faced or just plain old MDF.

    Cheers,

    P

  4. #3
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    I usually eyeball it and try and determine the grain direction that way based on growth rings. But if that doesn't work I go for planing and if I get tear out then flip the board.

    So a combination of 1 and 4.

  5. #4
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    I learnt how to pick the grain in a joinery but that was mainly with one or two types of timber. You do get a feel for it after awhile but I still plane things the wrong way regularly. Then there's the curly grain timbers that reverse direction every inch or so.
    "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

  6. #5
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    I run my finger along the edge face.. IF I get a splinter, the grain is running the OTHER way
    I try and do new things twice.. the first time to see if I can do it.. the second time to see if I like it
    Kev

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    Like Brudda I usually take a good look and then run my hand in the direction I think best.

    Every now and then I am wrong and a repeated visual inspection results in a confused "buggered if I know". The direction of planing without tearout has the final say.

    Like Silent said, curly grain is always a challenge with the plane having to be twisted and turned along with the grain. That's when a scraper comes into it's own.

    I do feel sorry for the power only people who must find it difficult or impossible to work with tricky grained timbers. Maybe they have techniques to overcome these problems such as drum sanders etc
    - Wood Borer

  8. #7
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    working mainly with burl, I gave up long ago worrying about direction of grain
    prove how bored u really are, ..... visit....... http://burlsburlsburls.freespaces.com/ my humble website

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    working mainly with burl, I gave up long ago worrying about direction of grain
    I try looking first, if that's not enough, I wet a bit of the surface & run my finger over it, if I still can't tell, try planing & see which direction rips out least & if all else fails, use a scraper.

    Just on scrapers, I always thought a scraper was a scraper, but I've given the veritas one that came with the burnisher a fair workout on some purpleheart & am convinced that it holds its edge longer.
    Visit my website
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  10. #9
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    If I can see triangle-like patterns, I imagine these resulting from a slice through a cone. I then imagine which way the cone must lie in relation to the surface of the wood based on the direction of curvature on the endgrain. That tells me which way the grain is pointing, and which way to plane. (Does this make *any* sense at all?) Can post pic if there's interest.

    Then there's all the other techniques. Usually still get it wrong 50% of the time, which is the same success rate as chossing a direction at random (!). It's a bugger of a thing.

    I'm in the middle of making a box out of mahogany, which seems to conspire to have the grain running all over the place, even though it looks straight. I might have to break out the scapers.
    Those are my principles, and if you don't like them . . . well, I have others.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenwood
    If I can see triangle-like patterns, I imagine these resulting from a slice through a cone. I then imagine which way the cone must lie in relation to the surface of the wood based on the direction of curvature on the endgrain. That tells me which way the grain is pointing, and which way to plane. (Does this make *any* sense at all?) Can post pic if there's interest.
    So you are looking at the figure Zen? in my (admittedly limited) experience the grain runs counter to the figure about 25% of the time in hardwoods. or are you looking at something else?

    there's no school like the old school.

  12. #11
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    It doesn't matter, I everything seems to go against the grain.
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  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanarcher
    So you are looking at the figure Zen?
    Here's the promised pic.

    Also, just found this:

    http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingp...grainindex.htm

    which alludes to the same technique (and I'd thought I'd come up with something new). The side has a usefule mnemonic:

    on the heart-side, the flames point in the planing direction
    on the other side, it's the opposite.:confused:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	grain and planing direction.jpg 
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    Those are my principles, and if you don't like them . . . well, I have others.

  14. #13
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    Thanks Zen! that's a good technique for flatsawn boards. I think that looking at the edge and always planing "uphill" will give the same result most of the time. what if the board is quartersawn? what about edge planing? and quite often the rays and figure don't run in the same direction.

    there's no school like the old school.

  15. #14
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    Default

    When I'm not using MDF, it's mostly been Douglas WoodFir(Oregon) and I think it's fair to say the grain of the hard bits and the soft bits runs in opposite directions!! It may not be true, but it's fair.

    I've found the same with lots of softwoods, WRC and Surian Cedar are two that come to mind.

    This is different to the gnarly bits in hardwood, and while I don't claim to have much experience in the hand treatment at all, with my new-found plane collection, I have:

    Taken a light pass on the jointer and/or thicknesser.... that sorts out direction pretty quickly! After that if feeding it the right way causes more grief, it's through the belt sander @120 grit, followed by a very light hand plane, or even a blast with the ROS.

    The MidgenFang gave me no end of grief with the spoke shave on the curvy bit, no matter which direction I came from, but that was easy to fix with the 1" sanding belt, followed by a bit of a scrape with the neck of a broken bottle.

    It's an old trick I learnt from my old man, and I'm curious given his lack of patience in the finishing area, as to why he did it, perhaps it was the most expedient way of rounding off edges, but I always keep an odd lot of broken glass around for getting into strange shapes.

    Cheers,

    P

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingmidge
    ...but I always keep an odd lot of broken glass around for getting into strange shapes.

    Cheers,

    P
    Funny...I keep an odd lot of bottles around for me to get into strange shape. esp. on Fridays.
    The only way to get rid of a [Domino] temptation is to yield to it. Oscar Wilde

    .....so go4it people!

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