These are the growth rings laid down around very trunk, branch and twig of the tree. You can discern each year’s growth because of the sharp contrast between the large quick growth of the spring and the small slow growth of the late summer which result in the series of definable concentric rings.
This is the last three or so inches of a tree's circumference and it is not fully lignified (hard wood) It is often a paler colour and will remain so as the heartwood gains colour and patina with age. In general it is softer than the heartwood and delicious to the woodworm, so on the whole we very much try to avoid it. As always, there are a few exceptions to the rule and the staggeringly contrasting white sapwood of the Yew tree looks spectacular against the darker heartwood.
When looking at the end-grain they are seen as lines or flecks radiating away from the centre of the tree and are normally non-descript. When the timber is quarter sawn or rift cut, they are seen on the face quite dramatically in the case of English oak, spectacularly in the case of lace wood and discreetly with elm or beech.
The outer boards with swirls, classic
woody look to them, almost like
cartoon drawings of wood.
Usually straight grained with medullary ray
figure very apparent in the grain. The most
stable, in terms of movement, of the cuts.
This is a cut seldom used these days. It is by far the
most stable cut, but as you can see it's very wasteful.
We normally pick out the quarter sawn cut if we are
seeking very stable material which we might use for
drawer sides or components that fit and move between
other pieces of timber.
Tending towards straight grained with little evidence of
medullary ray flecks. Reasonably stable. It gives images a
clean unfussy look.