Wood Terms

Wood Terms
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In this page I try to define the terms I use to describe the properties of the various woods. I've paraphrased most of the definitions and data from World Woods in Color by William A. Lincoln.

Texture is the feel of the wood surface, or if you prefer, the size of the physical elements that make up the surface. In general, Coarse Textured woods have large pores or broad rays. Fine Textured woods have small pores and small rays. A Coarse Textured wood doesn't feel like sandpaper once it's finished, it just has pores that are easily visible.

Strength is fairly intuitive. I'm using William Lincoln's Bending Strength data for strength. He classifies woods as having Very Low, Low, Medium, High, or Very High Strength.

Stability is anticipation of how much effect temperature and humidity will have upon the wood. All wood continues to absorb and lose water, depending on the humidity of its environment. Putting on a finish just slows down the exchange. Wood expands as it absorbs water. Unfortunately wood expands a different amount in each of its three different directions, longitudinally (up and down the tree) radially (in and out from the core of the tree) and tangentially (around the tree). A wood that has high stability has little difference in expansion in the various directions. A wood that has low stability has a larger difference.

Springiness is how easily the wood bends. Ordinarily, stiffness is good, but in shuttles, springy is good. I'm using the inverse of William Lincoln's stiffness ratings. This yields ratings of very springy, springy, moderately springy, stiff and very stiff. The actual springiness of a shuttle is due to more than just the woods properties. It also varies with the thickness of the wood and the length of unsupported wood (how far the tip is from the post).

Grain is often misunderstood (or at least not understood as William Lincoln understands it). It is only the physical natural formation of the wood fibers relative to the main axis of the tree.

Figure, to Mr. Lincoln, is what a lot of people think grain is. Figure is the surface pattern of the surface, and is more or less the sum of the grain, texture, and color variation. While I try to describe the color of the wood, the pictures do a whole lot better job.