Unusable Wood Grain ???

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Cushing H., Feb 26, 2021.

  1. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Fair enough. You might be right there.
  2. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    Hold on please .... we are mixing two different things: strength versus warping potential. Lets please not confuse the two and start getting into flames owing to misinterpreting what people are saying.

    I would tend to agree with what WEO said in terms of his "green" cut - that it would be better from a strength perspective, **but** he did make the point of cutting thick enough to accomodate for warpage before flattening (at least that is what I read him to be saying). (if you look at that cut and the way the growth rings are arranged - it is kind of like plywood - laminated layers that would make the piece strong against bending).

    If you look at WEO's "yellow" cut, you do **not** end up with that "laminated" grain structure, and so you lose the strength against bending that the laminated structure gives you. At least with some woods, this "quarter sawn" grain structure makes the wood definitely weaker against bending when the bending could cause the wood to break along the length of the grain.

    My son is a third-degree black belt in karate. they break boards. If you look at videos of that being done .... you will see that they **always** hold the board on the sides where the grain runs lengthwise along that side - and the board ends up breaking along the length of grain. If they hold the board the other way, they are basically trying to make the board break **across** the grain lines .... and broken hands (not boards) result.

    so my question was, for knife handles, is this grain structure still sufficiently strong?? I think Horsewright answered this question. I do think that WEO's "green" cut would be better/stronger (owing to the resulting laminated grain structure) - but only after allowing it to dry and then flattening to compensate for that warpage.

    (BTW - these pieces are at 8-10% moisture - which is pretty close to equilibrium that I see for denser woods - though into the drying cabinet they will go!)
  3. Jarrett Fleming

    Jarrett Fleming Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2011
    I think you're overthinking this. Quartersawn wood is commonly used on knife handles bocote, ironwood, and various oaks being some of the most common I see.
    You don't have anything to worry about if it's dry it's ready to work.
  4. Greenberg Woods

    Greenberg Woods Wood Fanatic and Rosewood Addict

    Dec 27, 2013
    Seriously you guys are way, WAY overthinking this.

    As long as you arent using endgrain, i promise you are fine.

    The pieces of wood used in knife making are small, and the amount of warp along a flat sawn face vs a quartersawn face in wood this size that has been properly dried is nothing.

    There is zero downside to using flat sawn or quartersawn or rift sawn grain for your knife handle, i promise it wont effect preformance. Just dont use endgrain and only use seasoned wood
    Ken H> and LCoop like this.
  5. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    Overthinking? In Shoptalk? Say what?
  6. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    LOL. Yes, yes, and yes. Lets just leave it at that. The appearance of grain presented like that (as in Horsewrights examples) are kind of cool too. Looking forward to seeing how it looks!

    Thank you all :)
    Scaniaman likes this.
  7. DanF

    DanF KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 17, 2017
  8. Storm W

    Storm W

    Feb 19, 2019
    Unless you are using a wood like hickory with a interlocking grain there isn't a large difference in splitting potential between flat and quarter sawn wood. @Greenberg Woods can probably tell you how much the wood is interlocked. If you want details about what kind of bending a wood can take the Traditional Bowiers Bibles goes into a lot of depth. Think of it as similar testing to what @Larrin did. The basic way to think of wood is like a bundle of strings or straws. Every season puts on a different color that has its own properties. So if you are looking for maximum strength you have to go to a ring or sapwood or heartwood the direction that the wood is split doesn't make a lot of difference. The only thing that makes a big difference is when that long grain is cut. That's why end grain is a problem. If you have figure in your wood then some has been severed so it comes down to how much is to much. A wood bow ask for more strength than any other wood object that I can think of and it can sometimes take some grain violation. A knife handle can take a lot. The one advantage to quarter sawn wood is that it warps less and is less likely to cause growth and shrinkage problems.

    Is this what you were asking our did I just take it in a different direction but still the wrong one?
  9. Joshua Fisher

    Joshua Fisher KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 27, 2018
    Like it’s been said no real difference in strength in flat or plain sawn lumber and quarter sawn lumber when it comes to breaking with the grain, warping is another issue, most woods on average will shrink/swell twice as much tangentially compared to radially. This means a flat saw board or scales will move more along the width which can leave the tang exposed when wood shrinks or swells compared to a quarter sawn board that will move more in thickness at a lower rate. On a block like that assuming you aren’t trying to pick the prettiest side I would cut the scales like Weo showed in the yellow section to give the most stable scales. As an example with bocote based off wood movement data you could make an educated guess that on a 1” wide section of handle cut flat sawn it could move up to .074” so over a 1/16” a quarter saw piece the same width would only have an estimated movement of up to .04” so just over 1/32” and as a fun fact the human finger can decent down to 13 nanometers of a difference in a surface, 1/32 is 793750 nanometers.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  10. FredyCro

    FredyCro Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 11, 2019
    IMHO once you glue it on with epoxy on a (full) steel tang the strength wouldn't matter that much, even if it's was the weakest of all woods you could think off.

    Hardness (as in not prone to scratching/nicking), workability (how does it grind and polish, will it crack easily if mistreated) and looks is what I am looking at.
    Ken H> likes this.

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