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  • Grain direction

    I just finished up 50 of Larry's happy Christmas trees. I was starting with 3" x 3" basswood stock and milling it down on the table and bandsaw. I was milling it so that the "face" grain was the "presentation" surface or, the surface I did the face carving on. I noticed I had lots of what I call "feathering", that is, wispy edges on some of my cuts that I could never get to blend in. I've got more wood arriving this weekend and I'm wondering if I mill the stock so that I'm carving on what would be the "edge" grain if that would help with the feathering. Any thoughts?

  • #2
    I might be able to help but I have to know exactly which surface of the wood I'm looking at.
    There are 3 faces to every piece of wood. Consider the log as a cylinder.

    The round face, the end, exposed when the log is cut to lengths is the transverse face.

    If you had chopped a blaze mark through the bark surface of the log, that's the tangential face.

    If you split the log in half and look at the freshly exposed surfaces, those are radial faces.
    = = =
    Are you seeing fuzzies on the tangential face (that you call the presentation face)?

    Water travels upwards in the hollow tubes of the cells in a zig-zag fashion.
    The cells are attached to each other much more firmly in the tangential (left-right) direction
    so that the fibers split away from each other in the radial direction which you see as fuzzies.

    Basswood. If the growth rings are not very obvious at all,
    would anyone notice which face you did the carving in?
    Brian T

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    • #3
      This is what I do, not saying it's right, but buy my basswood, so it been cut when I get it. I look at the end to find the growth rings & I face them out to do my carving on, also looking at that surface the growth rings will appear a squiggly "V's" I point the "V" down.

      It would be interesting to hear from some of the other carvers regarding this?????????
      . . .JoeB

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      • #4
        tangential? Brian T you are a wealth of technical information.
        9C2D2820-1EBF-44A1-9D25-E6297C927CF8.jpeg

        I have referred to this as the top of the growth ring arch. It is my preferred direction to carve as I think the wood carves easier. Don’t know that this will help with fuzzies.

        Carving in the round I have not noticed one side more fuzzy than the other.

        I’m in the wash and sand and oil camp for removing and controlling fuzzy fibers.

        Also since I never paint my carvings there could be issues with water based paint that I’m oblivious to.
        Ed
        Living in a pile of chips.
        https://www.etsy.com/shop/HiddenInWood
        https://m.facebook.com/pg/CentralNeb...ernal&mt_nav=0

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brian T View Post
          I might be able to help but I have to know exactly which surface of the wood I'm looking at.
          There are 3 faces to every piece of wood. Consider the log as a cylinder.

          The round face, the end, exposed when the log is cut to lengths is the transverse face.

          If you had chopped a blaze mark through the bark surface of the log, that's the tangential face.

          If you split the log in half and look at the freshly exposed surfaces, those are radial faces.
          = = =
          Are you seeing fuzzies on the tangential face (that you call the presentation face)?

          Water travels upwards in the hollow tubes of the cells in a zig-zag fashion.
          The cells are attached to each other much more firmly in the tangential (left-right) direction
          so that the fibers split away from each other in the radial direction which you see as fuzzies.

          Basswood. If the growth rings are not very obvious at all,
          would anyone notice which face you did the carving in?
          Yes, the tangential face is what I'm referring to. I'm wondering if, referencing the pic above, I rotated the stock so that I was cutting 90 degress to the tangential face (as a boat builder, I've always called that the "vertical grain" surface which is normally the edge of say a 1" x 6" piece of store bought lumber.

          So, if I milled the stock to have the vertical grain side as the face, would there be any less feathering?

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          • #6
            I'm trying to recall instances where I'm carving into the radial face in western red cedar and yellow cedar. I think there's less tear-out fuzzies. But, again, I don't carve basswood so my references to wood anatomy might not be very useful.

            This just might be an instance where you have to mill some and try it to get experimental results that you can rely on.
            Brian T

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            • #7
              I think of fuzzies of basswood being the result of machining processes - especially bandsawing or working with power carving burrs. The cuts of really sharp knives or gouges rarely produce fuzzies - in my opinion.

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              • #8
                Thanks for the fine image Ed. The "tangential" reference is the side I try to carve.
                . . .JoeB

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                • #9
                  I did a Master's Degree in Botany, studying the anatomy of the grafts in fruit trees between the stock and scion. Radial, Transverse and Tangential are the standard terms. That led to very interesting work in archaeology, automotive restoration, antique furniture repair and some really weird legal cases.

                  I think that pallin (Phil) got to the bottom of this. It takes supersharp, carving-sharp edges to make clean cuts in soft woods. Wood working machinery is never at that level.
                  Brian T

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