Unusable Wood Grain ???

Cushing H.

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I recently bought some wood blocks from a supplier (Bocote and Kingwood), and when I received them, I was taken aback by the direction of cut relative to the grain. While not "endgrain", they were cut so that when sectioned into scales, the grain would nevertheless run "vertically" (from the tang towards the sides) instead of forming layers parallel to the tang. Picture below - if I were to cut into scales, I would need to cut horizontally to get sufficient width to fit over a tang...
upload_2021-2-26_14-40-48.png

I am concerned that with the grain NOT forming layers parallel to the tang, this would just not be a strong arrangement, and might well split through the grain over time and use. Is this common from suppliers, and have any of you had experience with this grain orientation ... good or bad? Should I complain, or just go ahead and use these (these are not cheap woods......)
 

Greenberg Woods

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You're incorrect by the looks of it...

That piece is as a wood suppleir would say, long grain. That is to say its longest axis is acrosos the axis of Grain.
 

HSC ///

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Interesting... I don’t spend a lot on wood and Kingwood and bocote is some of the cheapest cost wood that I buy
 

Cushing H.

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That piece is quarter sawn. It should be very stable and resist warping and cupping.
I understand the quarter sawn piece is less succeptible to warpage... I am thinking more about mechanical strength, as wood, when stressed, tends to fracture along the grain lines, right? I have always thought the layers of growth rings should be parallel to the flat of the tang ,,, kind of like how plywood has parallel layers that make it very strong in bending. Am I thinking about this wrong?
 
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I've always thought as long as it isn't end grain for your scales then it should be fine, certainly not unusable, but I freely admit I'm no expert on this.
 

Greenberg Woods

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The danger of misalligned grain is if you have end grain on either of the larger two faces.

By the apperance of it, the face grain "I.e, the grain of the largest face," and the side grain"The grain of the second largest face" are both long grain, while only the ends of the piece are end grain, which is the proper orientation for strength.
 
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What are the dimensions? As long as the smallest dimension is greater than 3/4 inch, it should be usable on smaller handles. You might even get 2 handles out of that piece. Also, looks good for a hidden tang, so don't count it as a loss.
 

Cushing H.

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Imill, Ben, and Justin - I definitely will not have any endgrain, so sounds like I will be ok. I have just not so far run across purchased blocks where I had this particular grain orientation relative to the dimensions of the blocks.

The thickness is 1 1/8" - I would rather they were a little thicker, but can make do with these (I treat "standard" scales as 0.4"). And yeah Justin - one of the reasons I always buy blocks is to allow for the option of using the piece in a Wa handle (especially the Kingwood - I really like Kingwood :) )..... again, I wish they were a little thicker, but I can make do....

Thanks all.
 
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Try to look for the pores of the wood and see which face they are on. That should tell you where the end grain side is. Not quite sure what you are trying to do but the wood looks fine to me.
 
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Yep, quarter sawn is as close as you will get to a description on that block. "End grain" is made by taking a log & slicing it like a loaf of bread to get the wood. It's good for cutting boards, but not so good for other things & structurally the weakest cut out of a log. You would not want a house framed in end grain lumber. It can split easily as the strength is great in compression, but not good in the relatively thin sections across the slab, since forces can split the wood easily by running fasteners parallel to the grain. Any bending will split the wood relatively easily.

"Quarter sawn" is done by cutting the log in such a way that the annular growth rings are nearly perpendicular to one face (the wide face) & parallel to the other narrow face. This was the type of wood used in "finish" grades of lumber for appearance. It was very typical prior to WWII in naturally finished molding (doors & windows cut from old growth Douglas fir) because it tends to be very stable, not as prone to warping & is pretty strong if there aren't too many grain "run outs" within the piece.

As a cabinet maker "long grain" is not a term we used for building & I'm not sure exactly what it means, other than a board cut parallel to the axis of the log.
 

Cushing H.

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Sigh ... I fear people are not understanding the question I am asking ... or more likely I am not posing the question clearly ... for I am *not* asking about end grain (I only mentioned that in my first post exactly to point out that I was not asking about it!). Let me try again in a little while, but will use pictures to clarify...
 

Ron Raducanu

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Sigh ... I fear people are not understanding the question I am asking ... or more likely I am not posing the question clearly ... for I am *not* asking about end grain (I only mentioned that in my first post exactly to point out that I was not asking about it!). Let me try again in a little while, but will use pictures to clarify...

I understand what you are asking. Perhaps try getting some nice parallel lines from the block into segments and put a G10 liner between them? I don't think the strength of the wood will matter once it's all glued up if the wood is high quality and treated properly.
 

Horsewright

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I can't tell ya if its end grain, quarter sawn, short grain, long grain or any grain in between. However, I can tell ya I have used hundreds of scales of bocote cut like that, to make hundreds of knives. Don't worry about strength, its there.

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Remember my knives get used and abused in all the finest branding pens. If it didn't hold up, I would know about it.

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Cushing H.

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Thank you Dave. That is exactly the kind of experience I was hoping to have related.
 

weo

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I think you should be fine, depending on how dry the piece is.
when cutting blocks into scales from a warping/shrinking perspective, green would best (cut thick to accommodate warping), yellow would be fine, red would be most fragile.
upload_2021-2-26_14-40-48.png
 

Cushing H.

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Thank you also WEO, especially for the markup. The green cut would be for a really thin handle (not likely to happen) ... the yellow cut is much more likely for the size handles I would typically make. Good to hear you also would think that strong enough.
 

Horsewright

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Thank you Dave. That is exactly the kind of experience I was hoping to have related.

Yep, I traded (probably 10 years ago) a luthier a couple of knives for some nice wood he had. In that trade got a big board of bocote. Paid a buddy to use his table saw and cut er up for me. Had boxes and boxes of bocote scales, 1.5" x 12" x 3/8". Working on my last box of bocote now. There is some fancy bocote out there but what I had was all similar to yours. Makes great handles.
 
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I think you should be fine, depending on how dry the piece is.
when cutting blocks into scales from a warping/shrinking perspective, green would best (cut thick to accommodate warping), yellow would be fine, red would be most fragile.
View attachment 1517381

Weo,

I respectfully disagree with your assessment of which direction would be best. It is widely accepted in the woodworking community that quarter sawn lumber (growth rings perpendicular to the face) is more stable and less likely to warp or cup. Wood also shrinks more in the direction parallel to growth rings than perpendicular to them, so your green outline would move more across the face, possibly exposing or overhanging a full tang. Based on that, I believe your yellow outline would be the best.

https://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/lumber/wood-on-the-move
https://workshopcompanion.com/KnowHow/Design/Nature_of_Wood/2_Wood_Movement/2_Wood_Movement.htm

As to the OP's concern about wood splitting along growth ring lines, there's not a whole lot of info out there about that. Perhaps I'll head to my wood shop and do some experiments.

-Mark
 
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