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Sapwood and heartwood

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Forum topic by Bobmedic posted 03-15-2017 07:58 AM 782 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bobmedic

375 posts in 2637 days


03-15-2017 07:58 AM

What are your opinions on keeping sapwood and heartwood in projects? Personally, I like the unique look it gives a piece. Just as some people will strategically cut out these areas or place them in inconspicuous places, I will strategically place them to showcase these perceivably flawed areas. For example: book matching sapwood so that it centers on a panel or using the ez miter technique to make the wood grain flow across all sides of a box. Just curious about your thoughts and please post pictures. I’d love to see how creative you were with the grain.


16 replies so far

View pauljuilleret's profile

pauljuilleret

98 posts in 1488 days


#1 posted 03-15-2017 11:33 AM

I am working with some friends that want me to build new bath and kitchen cabinets for then using a mix of walnut and cherry we plan on using some sapwood as the third color of the sap would highlight the other two woods. We just finished a total house remodel where we used poplar for all the trim and baseboards it came out beautiful. the green sap wood in the poplar turns brown when exposed to light even after applying the finish

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4802 posts in 3796 days


#2 posted 03-15-2017 02:03 PM

I’m big on leaving the wood looking like wood. Walnut is a fav in my shop, and I’ll only stain or diminish the sapwood if the customer wishes.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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WDHLT15

1695 posts in 2312 days


#3 posted 03-15-2017 08:39 PM

Personally, I love the contrast.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

477 posts in 1305 days


#4 posted 03-15-2017 08:46 PM

For me, it depends on what percentage of the piece is sapwood vs heartwood.

If you build a table out of walnut and almost the entire thing is dark heartwood and you have one small corner that is lighter sapwood, it looks like a mistake, and in my opinion, it IS a mistake. But if you utilize two pieces of walnut that have a big band sapwood along the entire edge and put them on the outside edges of the table it could look very nice.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8301 posts in 1322 days


#5 posted 03-16-2017 01:30 AM



For me, it depends on what percentage of the piece is sapwood vs heartwood.

If you build a table out of walnut and almost the entire thing is dark heartwood and you have one small corner that is lighter sapwood, it looks like a mistake, and in my opinion, it IS a mistake. But if you utilize two pieces of walnut that have a big band sapwood along the entire edge and put them on the outside edges of the table it could look very nice.

- William Shelley

Agreed

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View BB1's profile

BB1

850 posts in 684 days


#6 posted 03-16-2017 02:14 AM

I like the contrast and try to find ways to incorporate into the design of my projects.

View Karda's profile

Karda

810 posts in 389 days


#7 posted 03-16-2017 02:22 AM

being new to wood working can you explain the construction difference between sapwood and heart wood is. I know what part of the tree they come from but not lumber uses thanks

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

27063 posts in 2174 days


#8 posted 03-16-2017 02:29 AM

It’s a personal choice that varies with every piece I make. Normally based on what the customer wants.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Karda's profile

Karda

810 posts in 389 days


#9 posted 03-16-2017 03:00 AM

ok but how can you tell the difference when you look at a piece of wood

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3828 posts in 1603 days


#10 posted 03-16-2017 03:47 AM

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Karda's profile

Karda

810 posts in 389 days


#11 posted 03-16-2017 04:05 AM

ok thanks

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1856 posts in 2474 days


#12 posted 03-16-2017 03:46 PM


ok but how can you tell the difference when you look at a piece of wood

- Karda


This photo is from Hobby Hardwood Alabama.

The sap wood is from the outer part of the tree through which the sap was still running when the tree was cut down. It is usually much lighter in color than the “heartwood”. The heartwood is the older part of the tree in the center which is “dead” in that sap no longer flows through it – although it is saturated with water, the water does not flow up through that part of the trunk.

The sap wood (if present on a board) will always be the on the edge of the board that was toward the outside of the tree. A board that was cut the full width of the trunk will have sapwood on both edges.

Is that what you were asking?

-Paul

View JayT's profile

JayT

5453 posts in 2047 days


#13 posted 03-16-2017 04:31 PM

Anyone that doesn’t like sapwood better never make anything from maple. ;-)

Sapwood used appropriately can be eye catching and enhance the piece as an accent. Instead of trying to use two different species to get contrast, you get color differences with a more organic flow and identical grain structure.

Overuse of sapwood/heartwood contrast, however, can make a piece too busy and detract from good design.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Karda's profile

Karda

810 posts in 389 days


#14 posted 03-16-2017 05:13 PM

thanks for the explanation, I know what they are in the tree bot not in the lumber, I never paid much attention to is I just like wood. Now i understand and can recognize it in the pictures. thanks for sharing your work they are all beautiful

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

1190 posts in 418 days


#15 posted 07-09-2017 06:54 PM

Be aware that sapwood is usually much less durable and softer than heartwood. I recently took apart my mom’s cedar chest which had been severely water damaged. Turns out it was made with cedar sapwood as the bottom of the chest, and that had rotted enough that I was shocked that the stuff stayed in the chest when we moved it. The heartwood boards in the bottom and sides were fine and I salvaged them for use in something else, but just about any of the sapwood was junk.

Different species are different for sapwood vs. heartwood. The wood database has information on most.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

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