Grain Direction in Jointing

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Forum topic by Rick George posted 02-01-2010 07:06 PM 1312 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rick George

48 posts in 3227 days

02-01-2010 07:06 PM

I have seen Norm of “The New Yankee Workshop” reverse the grain of the center section of a 3 section jointing project for structural integrity. Is it recommended that the grain be reversed on adjacent boards when jointing only two sections?

-- Rick

6 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3824 days

#1 posted 02-01-2010 07:11 PM

you’ll get 50%-50% opinions on this.

my take is that it doesn’t really make a big difference – instead of all the board cupping one way, each will cup in the opposite direction making the board wavy – in WORST CASE SCENARIO. however. to hand plane a board that has opposite direction grain is a PITA, you’ll get lots of tearouts and have to change your plane orientation in each section of the panel. it’s easier when all the grain in the panel goes one way.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View MichaelMacD's profile


20 posts in 3228 days

#2 posted 02-01-2010 09:54 PM

I have heard of one idea that seems to make sense. Though a jointer may be setup as square as possible, there may be some bariance from 90 degrees that is not detectec. If you reverse boards according to the orientation in which they were jointed, then any possible variance from 90 degrees will cancel out when the boards are glued together. Otherwise, the variation from 90 degrees will actually multipley.

I agree with the “wavy” comment above… I never understood the logic of the cupping “cancelling itself out” if you reverse the grain. But my intention would be to consistently orient the grain on the jointer, then reverse the grain so I know the jointed edges are opposite.

I don’t have a jointer, but when I do buy one it will likely be cheap… so I definitely plan on executing this strategy.

View TheDane's profile


5534 posts in 3838 days

#3 posted 02-01-2010 10:08 PM

I think it might depend on the stock … how wide are we talking about and was the stock quarter-sawn or plain/rift sawn?

If we are talking quarter-sawn stock, I wouldn’t worry about. If the stock was rift or plain sawn and wider than about 3 inches, it might be worth alternating the faces.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3376 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 12:08 AM

I agree with TheDane. If you watch “Norm”, he is usually making a tabletop 36” wide and is using 4 slabs. Width is the deciding key for alternating grain.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#5 posted 02-07-2010 06:30 PM

I agree it has to do with what kind of material,how dry your wood is and what the project is but in the long run I go for the appearance of the wood and how well the grain blends together. I don’t remember were I had a problem when I did not alternate the wood grains.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Stanley Coker's profile

Stanley Coker

254 posts in 3371 days

#6 posted 02-07-2010 07:40 PM

I also agree with TheDane, but there has been times that I have had to go along with Jim opinion to get the grain blends that I was looking for.

-- Stanley, North Georgia

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