Hi Bob, Could you possibly create a post explaining why and how
tight ring counts improve lumber qualities? I know that tight ring
counts are preferred, but why is it better?
My pleasure… it’s really quite simple, looking at a close-up of the
In early spring the wood grows quickly with large, thin-walled
cells…”earlywood”…seen as the lighter colored portion of the growth
ring. As the season progresses and growth factors such as light,
temperature, nutrients and water become more limiting, the cells get
smaller, thicker-walled, denser and more resinous…”latewood”…seen as
the darker portion of the growth ring.
You can actually see the cells get smaller in the photo as they
darken. Smaller, denser cells with more natural resins are
stronger…and a higher proportion of them in the wood makes for
stronger and more durable timber…significantly stronger and more
Even in the tropics there is usually some limiting factor to create
latewood…like an annual dry season…and it is the rare tree that
doesn’t show some sort of growth ring.
But it also helps to understand something of how the tree grows…
many folks think of growth rings in three-dimensional form as
cylinders, but they are really cones as shown above.
That’s useful to understand when ripping bending stock from wood
originally milled from a cant as most sawmills do…there is almost
always some grain run-out in straight, sawn boards that should be
identified before selecting stock for bending.
That’s why riven or split boards like the Vikings’ early lapstrake
planking are almost always stronger than sawn boards, and for most
store-bought wood, boards milled from nearer the pith will have less