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Wood grain- just starting to learn

1377 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Crickett
These two samples both came from big box stores. The one on the right cut in my hand miter box just fine. The one on the left cut much slower. I could push my fingernail into the end grain of the one on the right and make a mark- not the one on the left.

Can someone help a new guy understand what is happening?
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Looks like 2 different species. The left one looks like SYP to me and the right one, maybe hemlock?
Thanks for responding.

That could be. They both had labels that stated they were Pine, but I guess anything is possible at some of these stores.

If the left one is Pine, it cut much more slowly than the Poplar that I have been using recently.

Thanks again,

The left grew slow and is more dense, the right grew very fast and so the wood is softer. The left is rated as good wood for woodworking the right is not.

Plus pine is just a common name for many species of wood. There's white pine, southern yellow pine and probably dozens of others.

If you really want to know about wood, I'd suggest getting your hands on a copy of Hoadley's Understanding Wood.
Yep Slemi has it. Left one is slow growth from up north somewhere. The trees grow slowly and the rings are dense. Southern pines grow very fast and the rings are less distinct and farther apart.
Our local HD carries Yellow Pine, Knotty Pine and something called Whitewood. I was told in the store that Whitewood is a low grade of Spruce. It certainly is softer and cheaper than the better pine but if you are building something that doesn't need a lot of strength or will be painted, the Whitewood works good….holds screws, cuts easily, glues up good and takes stain well.
You will learn quickly that big box stores lumber is of the lowest grade available meaning that it is all fast-growth lumber and its primary useage is for the construction trades. Even though they may sell oak, and on occasion even some cherry, it's a very low quality and often times when you bring it home to aclimate to your shop environment, you'll notice cupping/checking/warping within a few days. Pine and poplar are fine for projects to be painted. If you want wood that you intend to finish and money is an issue, I recommend saving until you can buy from a reputable lumber dealer or saw mill in your area as you'll be amazed at the difference.
With the spaced out growth rings on both pieces, you have very large open grain which is where moisture enters and leaves wood the most rapidly and quickly causes the problems mentioned above. Does the wood on the right have hints of "reddish" tones as it may be a type of Fir - a very soft wood. Happy woodworking.
Hold on just a second. All pine growing in the South is not Southern Yellow Pine (SYP).
SYP is a much harder pine than White pine. And, it has much higher resin content.
In years past they even used SYP heart wood for flooring and that stuff is really hard, and hard to cut.
Now some forestry practices can make trees grow faster and trees are planted and harvested like any other crop in ways to realize the most profit. I see truckloads of pine trees all the time that have been cut when they were barely bigger than fence posts. Guess that's why all box store wood seems to have the pith in every board and some even have the pith and live edge in the same board. That means the tree was just barely big enough to make a couple of boards and the rest is used to make OSB, particle board and MDF.
Crank, I couldn't agree more. Which is why I say to stay the heck away from those places. People may think it's the more economical route to buy from them, but when you consider how much of it you'll be replacing once it "moves & aclimates" on you (yes I understand all wood moves), paying for premium wood up front is the wiser choice.
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