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Side grain versus face grain?

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Forum topic by Toller posted 01-27-2020 03:38 PM 205 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Toller

54 posts in 2243 days


01-27-2020 03:38 PM

I am going to make a box out of 1/8” thick wood. It won’t be subject to much force, so it probably doesn’t matter how the wood is oriented, but it got me thinking.
I will cut notches for a box joints into either side of a block of wood, and then resaw it into my 4 box sides.

Obviously I don’t want the pieces to be end grain, but does it matter if they are face grain or side grain? Side grain looks like it should be weaker along the grain, but I have never heard any thing bad about quarter sawn wood, so maybe not.


4 replies so far

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TechTeacher04

429 posts in 2174 days


#1 posted 01-27-2020 03:46 PM

I would avoid the side grain, I attempted to make an oak dovetailed box many years ago and can still picture the broken tails and pins as I attempted to put it together. Mine was 3/4” thick and snapped along the grain, 1/8” has even less strength unless you used a plywood.

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LittleShaver

630 posts in 1262 days


#2 posted 01-27-2020 03:47 PM

Quarter sawn will have less shrinkage across the grain. I don’t see that there would be any differences in strength. There may be a bigger risk of splitting during assembly, but with your plan, that shouldn’t be an issue.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Toller

54 posts in 2243 days


#3 posted 01-27-2020 05:27 PM


I would avoid the side grain, I attempted to make an oak dovetailed box many years ago and can still picture the broken tails and pins as I attempted to put it together. Mine was 3/4” thick and snapped along the grain, 1/8” has even less strength unless you used a plywood.

- TechTeacher04


I’d rather do it quartersawn (side grain) as it will be more interesting, but not if it won’t work.

Did you have the grain going up and down, so you parts broke off along the grain, or sideways, so the breaks were perpendicular to the grain? (I hope that makes sense…)

I will have the grain sideways (horizontal), so if the break potential is along the grain, it won’t matter much. I can easily cut a bunch of extra pieces to protect against breakage during assembly. Once it is glued up, it shouldn’t be able to break.

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Rich

5265 posts in 1232 days


#4 posted 01-27-2020 06:57 PM

It does matter how you orient it. Like TechTeacher04 says, if you orient the grain vertically on box joints or dovetails it’ll be weak, and you’ll probably get a lot of broken joints before you even glue it up.. Mitered joints are generally OK although it’s not the best way to do it unless you’re going for that look.

For the record, there’s really no such thing as side grain. On a standard board, you have long grain and end grain. What the long grain on the board face looks like is a result of how it’s milled—quarter sawn, rift sawn or flat sawn.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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