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Question about end grain vs. crosscuts

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Forum topic by spunwood posted 1173 days ago 975 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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spunwood

1193 posts in 1334 days


1173 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question carving tool chisel tablesaw milling finishing sanding sharpening

Can someone explain why it “appears” to be easier to make a crosscut than to work with end grain. Aren’t they essentially the same thing? It is really difficult to sand endgrain, but a crosscut is relatively easy.

I am reading L. Lee’s book on sharpening and this has been bugging me.

Any thoughts?

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν


7 replies so far

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CharlieM1958

15539 posts in 2716 days


#1 posted 1173 days ago

Making a crosscut exposes end grain. If you are comparing the relative ease of making a crosscut vs. sanding end grain, it seems like you are comparing apples and oranges. I’m not sure I understand the question.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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spunwood

1193 posts in 1334 days


#2 posted 1173 days ago

I am wondering why paring endgrain with a chisel would be any harder than making a crosscut.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

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shipwright

4648 posts in 1296 days


#3 posted 1173 days ago

Because you’re trying to cut through each fiber instead of sliding between them and separating them (oversimplified).
OOPS,Sorry I answered the wrong question.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

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CharlieM1958

15539 posts in 2716 days


#4 posted 1173 days ago

Think of the cells in wood like a bundle of drinking straws, the length of the straws being oriented the same direction as the grain of the wood. Cutting across that bundle of straws is difficult because they first want to just mash together. You can do it, of course, but a good deal of force is required. Turn your blade the other direction and it will slip easily between the straws.

Now think about paring the end off that bunch of straws. You can’t use brute force because the straws will just distort in shape while your cutting edge slips over them. The only way it will work is if your tool is sharp enough to slice through them before you have applied enough pressure to distort their shape.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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swirt

1912 posts in 1470 days


#5 posted 1173 days ago

I think the difference you are focusing on has two other causes not addressed yet.

1) Doing a crosscut with a saw is cutting through fibers that are supported by each other on each side of the cut. Paring end grain with a chisel or plane is cutting fibers that are only supported from below but are free to “waggle” on the very end. This waggle makes them more likely to deform than cut. (the fibers are less supported)

2) A crosscut saw (talking about a crosscut handsaw here right?) is making a slicing cut with just the points of the saw teeth. To make this style of cut with a chisel or plane you would need to skew the plane/chisel significantly and move it much more in the horizontal than in he forward direction. If you did this the cut would be very easy, but you would only progress “forward” maybe 1/4” or less with each pass.

In terms of actual “Work” from a physics perspective, they are probably quite similar. It is just that with a plane you are trying to cut all the fibers in one pass, vs a saw which cuts only a small fraction of those fibers in one pass, which is why you need to move the saw back and forth so many times.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

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swirt

1912 posts in 1470 days


#6 posted 1173 days ago

Forgot to mention… it “appears” easier because you are spreading the work out over a longer time. (lots of back and forth with the saw cut, vs one or two swipes with the plane or chisel. It is similar to the difference between trying to get to the second story of a building. Climbing a rope, climbing stairs, or walking up a long ramp. They all get you to the same height, but some seem easier than others. You can move a short distance with a lot of force or a long distance with less force. Same amount of work, but one seems easier.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

667 posts in 1456 days


#7 posted 1173 days ago

It’s not about a sharper tool, it’s that it is not the same thing. Wood is wood, not clay; working it in cross vs end grain directions are two different tasks. As Swirt stated, the wood fiber tips of the end grain can “waggle”, or move away from the blade and be pushed aside a bit, making it difficult to cut; cross cutting will be easier as the ends are not exposed, but rather held in place and therefore you will be able to cut them cleaner. An exception to the rule would be if you are trimming less than a blades thickness off; you would still have one side unsupported, and the cut ends up rougher than if you cut a piece off. Turning a block of wood is a great way to see the difference. A tree grows in an interesting fashion (well, to me anyway), maybe a good idea would be to study that first, then sharpen your tools accordingly.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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