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Direction of grain

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  • Direction of grain

    All the information about finishing wood products say to go with the grain. Does that just mean not to go across the grain. Is there a right and wrong way to rub the grain and if so how do you tell which is with the grain. Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    Hi enaid

    How nice to meet someone from the 'other' Lincoln - I spent a large part of my life in Lincoln, England and I often visit relatives there .

    It can sometimes be difficult to see which way the grain's running, so I run my hand over it. It's a bit like stroking a dog or a cat - if it feels rough, then you're going against the grain (and the animal will get irritated), if it feels smooth then you're going with the grain (and the animal will be happy).

    Generally speaking, you're better applying finish with the grain, because you'll lift the wood fibers with your brush or cloth if you go against it. However, before you apply the finish you should have already planed or sanded your work to the point where the wood fibers are so fine that any lifting is immaterial.

    It's much more important to go with the grain when you're planing or sanding, otherwise the fibers will tear and you'll get a rough finish. I've got a drawing somewhere that helps to identify grain direction according to tree growth ring curve, but can I find it now that I need it...?

    There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
    (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


    • #3
      ok, its time for a homemade example enaid. Get yourself a piece of wood. A hardwood would be nice. ay, maybe a nice small piece of oak. Buy yourself a short piece of red oak about 2 feet long, try a 1"X4"X2'. Now cut it in two, so you have two pieces 1 foot long each.Now, with your sandpaper, ohhhhhhh try 150 grit, that'll work good enough. Sand the surfaces of one of the oak boards. Move the sandpaper up and down the length of the board.Do this for a few minutes, you wouldnt want to miss anywhere ya know! Next, with the same grit 150 paper, sand the other, but this time, instead of sanding it the long ways,give your elbow a break. Use short strokes, and sand this piece the other way, go back and forth across the 4 inch way on that piece.Remember, go ahead and sand it that way a couple minutes, we wouldnt want to miss anywhere now you know!. Ok, all sanded nice, now, get a bit of stain. It dont have to be dark, just a few shades darker then the wood itself.This is the fun part..... slobber the stain on both pieces, get it all covered, we wouldnt want to miss anywhere you know.Ok, right now on your pieces your seeing why sanding with the grain is so important. Take a rag and wipe off the extra stain on the boards. Get them few drips wiped off the floor too, before you get caught staining in the kitchen!!!!. Ok, now, look at the sanding lines left on each of the two pieces, one will be a lot nicer looking then the other.Thats sanding WITH the grain. Save them two boards for reference in case you ever arent sure ,one look at them will remind you which way to sand. OH , now.....go get them stain rags, dont leave them laying there in a heap, spontaneous combustion can destroy your whole life!

      I hope you smile and actually do will learn why sanding one way is prefered over the other. Dale
      Dale w/ yella saws


      • #4
        direction of grain

        Thanks for the help. Dale I know the difference between going across the grain and and along the grain. My question is there an up and down on the grain and which way am I supposed to go.


        • #5
          sorry i didnt understand your question fully i guess. to the best of what i can guess, with the grain is up and down, across the grain is sideways on a piece of timber. Sand it the way it looks best!
          Dale w/ yella saws


          • #6
            Enaid--Yes, there is an "up or down" with the grain. If you look closely at most wood you will see that the "grain" tapers at certain points. By that I mean that it seems to form arrow points or seems to get narrower as you go down the board. The direction that the "points" are pointing (does that make sense?) is the direction of the grain or sometimes referred to as "with the grain." The other direction is called "against the grain." If you use a carving knife or spokeshave and cut in the direction of the "arrow points", you will get a smooth cut, but if you cut "against the grain" (not cross grain), you will get rip outs or digs in the wood. "Up" would be against the grain and "down" is in the direction of the grain. If you use a scraper to smooth the wood, you always go in the direction of the points or with the grain.
            Old Mooner


            • #7
              I guess you all know why bread is traditionally crosscut and not sliced lengthways.

              If you slice it lengthways you cut across the grain, ruining the taste.
              CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
              "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
              Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


              • #8
                It Depends

                That's true only if the bread is whole grained. If it's not whole grained the taste is already ruined so you might as well make toast.



                • #9
                  Speaking of toast I saw a pyrography site where someone made images on toast, but they cheated and used a laser.

                  So much for toast on Ebay.
                  CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
                  "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
                  Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


                  • #10
                    Carl -- they actually have toasters that will toast the toast with pictures on it


                    • #11
                      Thanks all.

                      Old Mooner you win the award for being able to understand the ramblings of a beginner in woodworking. That is exactly the information I was looking for. Thanks so much.


                      • #12
                        Thanks all. Old Mooner you win the prize for being able to unravel the strange language of a beginning woodworker. That is the information I was looking for. Thanks so much.


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