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What makes Curly Maple, Curly Cherry "curly"?

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Forum topic by barringerfurniture posted 03-17-2014 12:14 AM 1850 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1175 days


03-17-2014 12:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question curly maple curly cherry quarter-sawn oak

I know I could just Google it but I thought it would be a good topic for the board in case anyone else is curious.

Also, where do the “tiger stripes” in quarter-sawn oak come from?

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com


16 replies so far

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WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1939 days


#1 posted 03-17-2014 12:16 PM

Curl is caused by the cambium, the single layer of dividing cells between the wood and the bark. It produces wood cells to the inside and bark cells to the outside. What causes the cambium to divide in a ripply, curly pattern? I don’t think there is a definitive answer. It is just what nature does sometimes. It is beautiful, though.

Tiger stripes in oak are the medullary rays sliced open along their long axis (radially). All trees have them, but in most trees, they are only a couple of cells wide and are not prominently visible when sawn radially (quartersawn). However, in 4 species groups, they are much larger and are very prominently visible to the naked when viewed on an end grain slice. These species groups are the white oaks, the red oaks, beech (Oak is in the beech family), and sycamore.

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

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Nomad62

726 posts in 2421 days


#2 posted 03-17-2014 05:36 PM

Straight grained wood grows like a broom, the grains running like the straws. In figured woods, these grains grow twisted or curled, wiggled, however they do; often times it is caused by growth stresses, other times it is just the nature of the tree. Tiger striping is generally caused more by the wood being “crushed” into more dense lines formed by the weight of the tree pushing downward on the living, growing cells; they have a hard time growing straight up. Once wiggled or bent, the new fibers grow in the same shape and bear the same stresses. Wood fibers in crotches and bent (hillside) trees do the same thing, sometimes growing whichever direction they can. The rays in oak ( and some other woods) are a natural occurrence, and usually much easier seen in a quarter sawn piece. The visual affects are more due to the reflective qualities of the wood; the sides of the fibers are shiny in comparison to the end grain, and when you mix the two you get a varying reflection that most think to be attractive.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2153 days


#3 posted 03-18-2014 12:21 AM

Danny, Add mulberry to the list. I have gotten some amazing figure when quartersawing it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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Purrmaster

914 posts in 1555 days


#4 posted 03-18-2014 01:02 AM

What about birdseye maple? Does anyone know what causes that in the tree? Is it something that can be “engineered” to happen while the tree is growing?

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EPJartisan

1116 posts in 2588 days


#5 posted 03-18-2014 01:53 AM

Funny thing… Half the maple trees on my land are on a high hill and are subjected to strong winds all year. The trees lower than the hill rarely have curly grain, while he ones on the hill almost always do. I have also seen some tree grow on angles where the ground is not level and I get twisted grain. Granted these are only limited observations, but my hobbiest research agrees with nomad and Danny.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1939 days


#6 posted 03-18-2014 02:08 AM

gfadvm,

There are some other species with a noticeable ray fleck like your mulberry, cherry, and maple. It is visible on the quartersawn surface when sanded and finished. I particularly like it in cherry. It is a matter of degrees. Beautiful, just not as dramatic as in the oaks, beech, and sycamore. Don’t you just love wood!

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

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alexdom_89

98 posts in 1759 days


#7 posted 03-18-2014 02:20 AM

Ill add that qs mesquite dose display ray flecking to a very good extent as well as having curly tiger figure but mesquite grows sideways and is almost always never strait.

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2153 days


#8 posted 03-18-2014 02:25 AM

Danny, For me sawing a log is like opening a Christmas present! I got a load of your “devil trees” yesterday! 30” diameter standing dead hickory with 9’ of straight trunk on each. We’ll see how I like it…...

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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Woodendeavor

276 posts in 2069 days


#9 posted 03-18-2014 12:07 PM

There are two different types of curl that I have found. There is compression curl that you get at the bottom of the tree where the weight of the tree itself has crushed the gain into a curly pattern. Then there is genetic figure that is through out the whole tree, and what causes it is unknown.

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Mainiac Matt

5991 posts in 1791 days


#10 posted 03-18-2014 01:10 PM

A friend had a huge maple taken down (carpenter ants were in it) in his small front yard by tree service guys and offered as much of it to me as I could haul away.

As I split that wood I was amazed at the ripple texture in which the log splitter cleaved the wood.

My point being that curly looks different when split than when sawn.

Sure wish I had pulled some out to play with on the band saw.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

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Nomad62

726 posts in 2421 days


#11 posted 03-18-2014 03:24 PM

Birdseye maple is a tree that has a specific issue, I’m too lazy to go look it up but they are similar to burls, just small and generally scattered about thru the wood like golf balls. Tree peeps in the forests of the East keep an eye on them as they are distinguishable by their bark patterns, waiting until they are of size then cutting them for us to use. I’ve had 1 big leaf maple with a similar pattern in it, but I guess that’s not typical.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1939 days


#12 posted 03-19-2014 12:55 AM

gfadvm,

Good luck with the devil! I have some pecan logs that were felled 1 year ago. I bet that sparks will fly when I saw them.

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

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2153 days


#13 posted 03-19-2014 01:21 AM

Danny, Cut the first hickory and the LT15 handled it fine. It was a good candidate with a crotch at one end. We’ll see how it dries!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1175 days


#14 posted 03-19-2014 01:39 AM

Awesome! Lots of great responses and information here. Most of this is new and very fascinating to me. I’m sure many of you have seen it but just in case:

http://www.wood-database.com/

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com

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Purrmaster

914 posts in 1555 days


#15 posted 03-19-2014 01:50 AM

Hickory cuts fine on my tablesaw. But it is rock hard. Considerably more so than oak. I’ve used it for one project and I probably won’t be getting anymore. It was more trouble than it was worth.

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