You should still be able to find wood like that, it might require a bit of a
search though, and a fat wallet!
Looks like thay have used a slightly darker tinted finish to make it stand
out more, and perhaps that item has also aged a little and darkened for
Online Tool Reviews
Complete our tool survey, Win $200!
Latest 6 Reviews:
- Betterley Tru-Cut Insert System
- Digital Calipers & Height Gauge
- Delta SS250 Scroll Saw (Review Updated)
- Porter Cable FR350A Framing Nailer
- WoodHaven Biscuit Master
- EZ Smart Guide System
Yes, it still exists, and no, it's not a finishing method. You've
just got to look in the right place, and be willing to dig through
stacks of lumber. I've got a bit of it on my router table, so I can
look at it whenever I'm working.
Sure, but you will pay a huge premium.
It's not cheap and you've gotta start with the right board, but I seem
to recall some fellas mentioning that tung oil and torching the wood
lightly with flame will "pop" the figure out better. Luthiers will
prolly be the best source of info on this sort of thing though.
If you live in a region where Home Depot stocks maple, you can
search through their stacks and find curly maple. It is not
often that one finds a wide board, but they do show up once in
a while. Curly maple 1x2 is pretty common. All of the maple
at Home Depot is priced a bit higher than rough cut curly maple
is at a mill, but a lot lower than curly maple is at a hardwood
Last I checked the local Home Depot was asking about $4.50/bf for
maple, Doll lumber (Ohio) had rough cut curly maple for $3.50/bf
and a hardwood lumber place up in Balmore, MD has s4s curly maple
It has been a while since I visited Doll.
Yeah, I've noticed that too...I was amazed. "They have curly maple? Wow."
I myself have picked up some nice QS red oak there of late - just last week
I picked up 4" and 8" QS boards (1 each). Pretty cheap, really.
I've noticed of late a lot of the wide maple and oak that HD is stocking are
actually finger-jointed and/or edge-glued bits that are veneered with wider
Try Sandy Pond Hardwoods (among other places you can find on the internet).
I've bought curly maple from them before and been quite happy with the wood
Gary in KC
It still exists, but a lot of it gets used by the musical
instrument industry. I was walking around one of the places I get
wood and found a nice little peice about 2'X3"X3" sitting in a
corner. I wanted to pick it up for bowls but they were sending it
to Europe for violins. I ended up with a 12" round about 2 1/2"
thick that has just slightly less figure that I use as a trivet.
I haven't gotten around to making a bowl out of it and it's too
pretty to sit in a corner.
Dave in Fairfax
Yes available. This is in the category of "Figured" wood. Various
figures include "Curly", "Tiger", "Stripped", "Birds Eye", "Qulited"
and "Fiddleback". Some of these names are redundant or a bit arbitrary.
Curly, Tiger, and Fiddleback are all pretty much the same thing.
You'll find all of these in Mapleand some of them in Cherry, Mrytle,
and others. It is essentially just some wierd grain patterns that
happen somewhat randomly. You can sometimes find figured wood in the
standard wood rack at a supplier. However, most commonly the highly
figured pieces are sorted out and sold at multiple times the price of
If you want to see lots of pretty pictures try ebay for "Curly Maple"
or "Curly Cherry" (pretty rare and one of my favs).
I've always wondered if the figuring can be attributed to any specifc
condition of the tree. I always though maybe some burl like growth
might signal quilting or a very wind blown/bent tree might have some
tigerring. Let us know if you "figure" anything out.
One nice aspect about Maple is that the figure tends to be deep within
each board so you should be able to find it pretty easily. I know with
QS White Oak you can plane a 1/4" off and lose all the figure. I've
resawn nice looking boards only to find no figure in the middle.
I wonder if it matters the direction of the cut through the log. Maybe
you take a slice first and try splitting it in different directions
looking for a figure pattern. Sorta cut it like a pizza.
I was roughing out a birch blank on the lathe tonight after work, and
noted that there was a pretty good tiger figure beneith the crotch
where a good sided branch had been. It appeared to me like the weight
of the branch had somehow compressed the grain underneith, and caused
the pattern by buckling the fibers slightly. I don't know if that was
the case, but it was something to wonder about anyhow!
The only one that doesn't seem to go all that deep in maple is bird's
eye. I found that out the hard way when I made a lamp out of some,
and ended up with regular old maple where a lot of excellent figure
used to be. Curly figure usually seems to go all the way through.
I imagine it would- look at the difference between flat-sawn and
quarter-sawn. I don't believe I've ever seen flecks in flat-sawn oak.
Indeed it looks like that and there is ample folklore to that effect.
However if you find a long section of trunk that is curly it will
be curly all around, not just on one side, for the reasons explained
If you lost the ray flecks you most have sawn off the grain that was
perpendicular to the face of the board. Keep in mind that ray flecks
and curl are entirely different figure.
Casual observation indicates that bird's eye shows up best on a flat-
sawn face. Quarter sawn bird's eye looks like curl, though true
curly wood is curly no matter how you slice it.
Curly figure in maple is not related to flecks. You can see flecks
in flat sawn oak, they are very very thin dark streaks in between the
grain boundaries. In Oak and beech flecks are also prominent in
the end-grain. You can also see flecks in maple and cherry, but
only if it is very precisely quarter sawn, that is with the grain
very close to perpendicular to the wood surface. The flecks in
maple and cherry look rather like fish scales. They are very
small and numerous.
All wood has ray flecks, they are cellular structures that grow
perpendicular to the growth rings and knit the layers of wood
together. In most woods they are very small and so hard to see.
In oak, beech, sycamore, lacewood (Australian silky oak) they
stand out in quarter sawn wood, most of all in oak.
Curly figure in wood is caused by irritation of the cambrium
by a fungus resulting in an abnormal growth pattern. It is
most common in and near stumps and crotches, places where
moisture accumulates and encourages the fungal growth.
Where curly figure occurs in a trunk the grain does not
run vertically up and down the trunk as in normal growth
for most trees, but spirals around the trunk. For that
reason, any curly maple boards you see that were cut
symetrically with respect to the centerline of the trunk
will have approximately equally curly left and right margins
and the outermost margins will have a 'curlier' figure than
the heartwood. That is not a quartersawn vs.flatsaw effect
as can eb demonstrated by observing that edge (arris) of a
quartersawn curly board (which is a flatsawn face) is as
culry as the quartersawn face.
Because curly wood grows in a spiral around the trunk all
boards cut parallel to the axis of the tree, whether flat,
rift, or sawn will be short grained. This makes curly wood
unsuitable for things like drumsticks, hammer handles and
the uprights on frame saws. Curly boards easily break when
laoded in bending. It is commonly said that the curls run
perpendicular to the grain. This is not true. The curls
run perpendicular to the apparent grain direction, but the
apparent grain is skewed with respect to the true grain.
If you bend a piece of curly wood until it breaks and
observe how it breaks you will see that the grain runs
at about a thirty degree angle with respect to the
apparent grain direction.
The same fungus is supposed to be responsible for curl, quilting,
and bird's eye. I _think_ that bird's eyes form where tiny
leaves grow out directly from the trunk and are analogous
to needle scars in softwoods.
Yes it is. I often refer to this as "fat rolls" that can be seen once
the bark has been peeled back to expose the skin of the tree. Maples
are one of the few that exhibit this feature. Walnuts and other figured
trunks show no apparent outward signs of what lies under the surface :-)
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.