Grain Glossary

Grain –  A general term referring to the alignment, appearance, arrangement, color, direction, and size of wood fibers in a piece of lumber. Among the many types of grain are coarse, curly, fine, flat, open, spiral, straight, and vertical.

Close-Grained – Wood with narrow, inconspicuous annual rings. The term is sometimes used to designate wood having small and closely spaced pores.

Coarse-Grained – Wood with wide conspicuous annual rings in which there is considerable difference between earlywood and latewood. The term is sometimes used to designate wood with large pores, such as oak and walnut.

Cross-Grained – Wood in which the fibers deviate from a line parallel to the sides of the piece. Cross grain may be either diagonal or spiral grain or a combination of the two.

Curly-Grained – Wood in which the fibers are distorted so that they have a curled appearance, as in ‘Birdseye’ figure.

Diagonal-Grained – Wood in which the annual rings are at an angle with the axis of a piece as a result of sawing at angle with the bark of the tree or log.

Edge-Grained – Lumber that has been sawed so that the wide surfaces extent approximately at right angles to the annual growth rings.

Fiddleback-Grained – Figure produced by a type of fine wavy grain found in species of maple, for example, that is traditionally being used for the backs of violins.

Flat-Grained – Lumber that has been sawn parallel to the pith and approximately tangent to the growth rings.

Interlocked-Grained – Grain in which the fibers put on for several years may slope in a right-handed direction, and then for a number of years the slope reverses to a left-handed direction, and later changed back to a right-handed pitch.

Open-Grained – Common classification for woods with large pores such as oak, and walnut.

Plain-Sawn – Also referred to as Flat-Grained Lumber.

Quarter-Sawn – Also referred to as Edge-Grained Lumber.

Side-Grained – Also referred to as Flat-Grained Lumber.

Spiral-Grained – Wood in which the fibers take a spiral course about the trunk of a tree instead of the normal vertical course. The spiral may extend in a right-handed or left-handed direction around the tree trunk.

Straight-Grained – Wood in which the fibers run parallel to the axis of a piece.

Vertical-Grained – Also referred to as Edge-Grained Lumber.

Wavy-Grained – Wood in which the fibers collectively take the form of waves or undulations.


Grain Pattern Three distinct grain patterns:

Plain Sawn – Plain Sawn has an arching grain.

Vertical – Vertical has pinstripes with no growth rings over 45 degrees perpendicular to the face.

Curly – Curly is the rarest.