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Reply by cathyb

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Posted on why so up tight!?

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cathyb

757 posts in 1848 days


#1 posted 1265 days ago

Tension wood results from a tree growing under significant mechanical stress. For example, if it somehow survived while growing on the side of a steep hill or exposed to high winds or any situation which forced the compression of the tree fibers. Think of the fibers like a straw. The pressure on those fibers creates a compressive load that forces the fibers to compress and really creates a spring. When those fibers are cut on a saw, the cut releases the stress and it opens up from energy released. It is not common, but it does happen. The thing to remember is that if you have a piece of lumber that is just contemptible and no matter how hard you work to get it milled it just won’t stay flat and it won’t stop twisting- it’s got some tension and stored up and it could come back and bite you. To be sure not all tension wood has so much tension that it will actually hurt you, but you have to be vigilant.
If I can’t cut tension wood into thin strips on my band saw, I toss it. It’s just a shame that I didn’t know that this piece of mahogany was a trouble maker. It was only 14” long, but when it came apart and hit the blade. Those projectiles sure were scary. I found fragments on the other side of my shop and yesterday found one in the wall about six feet behind my saw. That is very scary. I consider myself lucky to have walked away with a cut finger.
Be careful, don’t be spooked, just pay attention to your wood. If it seems more trouble then it’s worth, it just might be. Best of luck to you….........

-- cathyb, Hawaii, www.cathyswoodworking.com


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