Using Grain

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though.
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"Joe" wrote:

And maybe watch an execution.

Think Texas State Prison.
Lew
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GarageWoodworks wrote:

It is obtainable. Whether you're willing to spend the time to find it and/or pay the price for it . . .
One of the interesting (read "fun") things about doing solid wood furniture is flipping and turning and sliding boards around to get the best grain look for panels and table tops, rails and stiles and so on. If you do it right you get a nice flow of grain rather than a "well at least I got the most out of the boards I bought". Sometimes "waste" is mismatched grains and grain heading in obviously and glaringly different directions,
Lucked out with this one, had very little leftovers after doing the drawer faces. Those went into the top where the sapwood next to heartwood were used intentionaly put bands in the top.
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DrillPress/DrillPressDrawers.html
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Nice matching. I had a related decision to make when I was cutting the book matched plywood panels for my entertainment centre. I picked out the best looking sections of panels for the sides and top of the entertainment centre (2ea 21" x 60" and 1 ea 21"x 72"). The less handsome pieces when for interior shelving and dividers. It made for some difficult cuts to get the best looking pieces where they'd be viewed most often, but that's all part and parcel of woodworking as far as I'm concerned.
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On Sun, 7 Jun 2009 10:20:14 -0700 (PDT), GarageWoodworks

When I am working on an individual piece that I hope will be meaningful both to myself and the client (these days, mostly my wife, myself and my children) I usually begin with the gross parameters, such as size, shape and function, but this inevitably involves the recognition of how the grain, color and figure of the piece will come into play. To design otherwise would be to deprive myself of one (or two) of the premier elements of a wood object. Taking these into consideration makes me a painter. Ignoring them makes me a draftsman.
Grain and figure are not entirely the same. I have not read the FWW article but I would hope that they admired the difference between grain, which is a structural consideration, and figure, which is an aesthetic component of a piece.
They inform each other but are not equal.
Grain comes into play mostly in the engineering area of the design. It informs you as to how to do the joinery. When it becomes a design component on the visual level, as in QSWO stuff, the line is blurred.
Figure comes in on the visual level in a different way. It talks about how the piece is viewed as a piece of woodworking art.
This is not an absolute delineation. I am mindful that 'joinery is the beginning of ornament'. However, in a general sense, once you have gone beyond the basics of size and shape, it is figure and color that describe the piece.
There are some craftsmen who begin with the wood. Nakashima might be considered one, although his ultimate form was also informed by the grain and figure.
There are others who would make a piece of a given form and look to grain, color and figure to give it life.
That's where I live. While I am drawing a fairly rectilinear object, like the desk I am building for my daughter, I am thinking about what wood, what grain, what color and which figures to use in the piece. Then I go looking for the wood that fills my eye.
It is a kind of design circle, you see. You may start with the need, and the room that it will be in goes a long way to determine the size and shape and color. The use of figure will determine if it is to fit in, or to stand out.
You might also start with a beautifully figured stick and say to yourself, "I wonder what I can best make from this?"
I have wood that is waiting to be a jewelry box. I have wood that is clearly meant to be a chair. I have wood that is useless for joinery and needs to be turned.
Right now I have a desk to make. Because it does not have to fit into any particular room, excepting to be small enough to fit in a college dorm, I get to go crazy on the color and figure. It is a wildcard. It is a surd. It is a gift.
And you should see the figure and color of the fiddleback cherry.
That I saw in my mind's eye when I was drawing it.
Found the perfect sticks.
Nirvana.
Regards,
Tom Watson http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom:
In a world heavily trending towards the typically vacuous brevity of texting and twittering comes - Sir Tom to the rescue, waxing eloquently on those and that which are precious to him - and passing on knowledge of, and insights into, wood and woodworking (as well as life).
But it's the poet in you I appreciate the most. And this post on grain and figure is filled with ideas beautifully expressed which should be inscribed in a pieces of wood and placed in every woodworker's shop as both inspiration - and reminders of why we play with wood.
Thank you sir, once again.
With your permission, I'd like to share your post with others over in a WoodCentral woodworking forum.
charlie b
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wrote:

Thanks for the kind words. Please feel free to use them however you wish.
Regards,
Tom Watson http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson wrote:

Pure poetry ... thank you, Tom. Made my day!
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/22/08
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It seems that part of the issue here isn't so much finding good quality wood with pleasing grain as much as it is finding it at a price you can afford.
Do you own a planer? Do you have a place to store a fair amount of lumber?
There is another way to approach obtaining wood with pleasing grain at an economical price, which is to buy _cheaper_ wood, in a greater quantity than you need, and then pick through it to get the quality and grain you want. I don't know about in your area, but near me there are a number of places that sell roughsawn hardwood, often small producers with bandsaw mills and the like who make more than they need for their own use and sell the rest for cheap money. Keeping your eye on the local ads will often turn up deals along these lines.
It may require changing your project ideas somewhat. For example, if you can't get cherry where you are, but can find a good deal on pecan, you could still end up with some very nice looking pieces if you're willing to work with it. It also helps if you have other woodworking friends nearby to share out on "...but you have to take it all" deals, and to serve as aditional sets of eyes in the hunt. Or if you don't have a sharp time deadline on the piece, and can spend more time looking for the stock; or have the space to stockpile against future projects...
Having a larger amount of lumber to pick through, because you obtained it at a price you could afford can give you some of the flexibility to work with some of the other features of the wood that simply aren't available to you when you have to figure your cutlist out to the last inch.
--Glenn Lyford
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... There is another way to approach obtaining wood with pleasing grain at an economical price, which is to buy _cheaper_ wood, in a greater quantity than you need, and then pick through it to get the quality and grain you want. ...
That has been a very effective approach for me. The other approach is to simply overbuy. If you count on 30 or 40% waste rather than 10% you can pretty easily ensure that all rails and stiles are rifft or quatersawn rather than flat. Even then, only the last 10% is really ever thrown in the burn pile. less than optimal grain usually makes an acceptable drawer back.
-Steve
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