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Our Inventory > Glossary of Wood Terms

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Birdseye There are many theories concerning the generation of “birdseye” figure or appearance, which occurs almost exclusively in Hard Maple. It is said that birds peck the surface of the trunks of the relatively limited number of “chosen” trees, and to varying degrees, maybe in search of bugs or possibly seeking the Sugar Maple sap. These variously scattered irritants to the normal growth layer heal with spotty distortion, are cut across and revealed in the veneer as birdseye figure.

Blister A decidedly uneven contour of the growth rings brings about blister figure when the log is rotary cut and the straight knife passes across these contour variations. The veneer, while smooth, appears to be covered with blisters. The only difference between blister and quilt or Pommele is size of figure. Occurs mostly in West African redwoods such as Khaya (Mahogany), Sapeli and Makore.

Broken Stripe This stripe effect develops only in quarter slicing veneer, usually includes some end wood character, and it appears that the stripe figure runs down under the surface and then out again, more or less “broken”.

Cluster The cluster figure results from cutting half round veneer from the trunk of certain trees in which it is characteristic. It is some variation of scattered clusters of burl figure, intermingled with plainer grain or what is commonly called muscle figure surrounding the clusters of burls and intermingled between the clusters. Often the muscle figure is very strong around the clusters and fades out to almost plain areas between. This is most common in Myrtle and West Coast Maple, Claro Walnut and European Ash.

Crossfire This is a general term often applied to all the various types of figure markings across the grain.

Crotchwood-Swirl The swirl figure is that developed in slicing from either side of the crotch block toward the center, which is feather figure mentioned above. The concentration of the distorted fibers spreads out toward the outside of the tree and becomes more of an overall swirly, grainy pattern.

Curly Results from distorted growth of fibers in the trunk of the tree that gives a wavy or curly appearance in the veneer. This figure is usually most common to Birch


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