Thursday, February 16, 2017


The wood pictured left is Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum).  This is a picture of break because the tree was hanging over power lines and was pushed  over with an excavator; it shows the grain very well.  This grain pattern is referred to as "fiddleback" and if the wood is cut the opposite direction, 90 degrees to the grain in the picture it is referred to as "quilt" or sometimes called "turtle". These terms may vary between localities and industries.

The fiddleback is formed when the tree or part of the tree is under compression pressure.  This  particular tree had been blown over in a wind storm when it was much younger and then continued to grow twisting up towards the sunlight causing  pressure were the tree turned upwards and grew larger.  Sometimes this will occur when a tree growing in a forest becomes shaded by other trees, and as the tree grows it will twist and turn to find sunlight causing pressure where the tree bends. You can also find this type of pattern under large limbs that are putting pressure on the bole.  Very often this pattern will not be visible through the bark. Look for the pressure points.

A bowl  turned from wood near the break is pictured below,  about 13 inches in diameter.   Maple Bark on a natural edge will not stay on the edge of a bowl.

Other Species can also have this fiddleback grain pattern.  Trees that grow on a ridge top or high point that is subject to winter storms tend to have a hard and tough grain.  Trees that grow in lower protected areas tend to have a softer and more consistent grain.  Trees that grow under the forest canopy and are forced to twist and turn to find sunlight will have some very interesting grain patterns.

Whatever wood grain or texture you encounter, I have the woodturning tools that will make your turnings come to life.

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