Having looked at a lot of stuff over the years I've kind of decided that if
I'm going to use wood with knots that they need to be whole knots, i.e., no
partial knots on the edge of boards or partial knots in glued up seams. To
accomplish this I rip boards to include or exclude knots or partial knots
such that even with glue ups only full knots show.
I've noticed more and more commercial work, as well as a fair amount of
amateur work with partial knots. Now I'm wondering if it's just me noticing
this or has the prevalence of partial knots in visible surfaces really
Seventy some odd years ago, when I was a youngster, you couldn't give
away a board that had a knot in it. Then in the 1950's it became the
rage to panel a room with Pine boards that had a whole lot of knots in
them. Since then, everything went down hill to where you now have
sawdust glued together and people are happy with it. I guess that you
can still get wood boards that do not have a single knot in then, that
is if you are slightly Rich.
A bit of a gloat; I just bought a load of lumber (used) from a farm
building that was torn down. Had to remove nails and such, but I am
noticing that a lot of the lumber is clear pine. It is marked Number 2,
but it is clear. Some of the 14 footers may have one knot, but that is
it. The guy I bought it from said the outbuilding was built in 1972.
A local cabinet shop owner says he gets a request for knotty cabinets,
especially hickory, from time to time. In fact we saw some work he
was doing a couple of years ago that had some pretty prominent open
knots in some of the doors. Sounds weird but it was really quite
SFWIW, if I have to use knotty material, I knock them totally out
(full or partial knots), then fill with microballoon thickened epoxy
complete with black color.
When cured, sand flush and treat it like solid material.
Truly not a woodworker purist, just the way I've done it.
It certainly is much easier to work with wood that has no knots however it
seems that they are becoming more accepted. I personally like them on the
right piece and especially if they are eaually spread out. I don't want "1"
knot, I want them all over. ;~) I actually prefer to see knots whith
small holes, I like to fill them in with a contrasting and or complementry
I don't know - do you like women with hairy legs? That's also
Wood prices affect the desirability of knotty wood - at least the
desirability of keeping some cash in your pocket and still getting
wood you can work with. It seems to me that knottiness (is that a
word?) is a fashion trend. As someone else pointed out, back in the
50's and 60's knotty paneling was in favor in much of the country.
That trend seemed to hit the top - or the bottom depending on your
viewpoint - with pecky cypress, where rotten wood 'sores' were
As far as the location of the knots, having the complete knot uncut is
certainly more stable, and if the knot is small and tight enough it
won't go anywhere. After the stability/longevity issue, it's all
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