What are these marks?

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Forum topic by MalcolmLaurel posted 02-21-2014 04:16 AM 1197 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MalcolmLaurel's profile


300 posts in 1822 days

02-21-2014 04:16 AM

This is a piece of oak from a tree I took down a few years ago. While splitting it for firewood, one piece split off almost flat, so last weekend I flattened it out with a hand plane, mainly as an experiment. Now it’s becoming a small chair side table. When I planed it, some odd marks appeared. At first I thought they were perhaps artifacts from the planing, but they’re still visible after sanding. I’m not complaining; they’re kind of interesting, but I’m wondering what causes these marks?

-- Malcolm Laurel -

6 replies so far

View ChuckC's profile


843 posts in 3134 days

#1 posted 02-21-2014 04:28 AM

Ray flecks. They can appear in quarter sawn oak.

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3663 days

#2 posted 02-21-2014 04:30 AM

I have some oak with similar marks. I think they are a variation of the ray flecks that show up in quarter sawn oak. I’m not certain about this but it seems to make sense.
Do you know the exact sub-species of Oak this tree was?

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2153 days

#3 posted 02-21-2014 04:46 AM

These are medullary rays grow in a radial fashion, so when a board is cut, the cut is across the ray. They are more pronounced in some species and command a premium when it’s in a board and often the board is pulled out to cut a batch of veneer. They are spectacular in white oak.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5285 posts in 1920 days

#4 posted 02-21-2014 04:56 AM

Those are a good thing, the closer you get to the wood being quarter sawn the more prevalent these become. Many like the look, but it also indicates a board that will yield greater seasonal stability.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View WDHLT15's profile


1792 posts in 2675 days

#5 posted 02-21-2014 01:08 PM

All trees have medullary rays. Only a few domestic trees have very large rays that give a dramatic figure when quartersawn. These are the oaks, beech, and sycamore. Quartersawn lumber with the ray fleck is much more valuable than flat sawn lumber. It is a very good thing.

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

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


300 posts in 1822 days

#6 posted 02-21-2014 02:08 PM

Thanks all… I’m not sure what species of oak it is. Most of it has gone up in smoke by now, except for an 8’section that I adzed a flat face on for a rough bench.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

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