What is ‘Figured Wood”?

No two pieces of wood are alike. One of the great rewards of working with wood is knowing that no matter if I am crafting a simple cutting board, or carving a large-scale masterpiece, each of my creations will be 100% unique. Like snowflakes and fingerprints, the grain pattern that forms in trees never perfectly repeats, so each piece will have its own unique features.

I am always looking for the most unique and interesting pieces of wood around to use in my one-of-a-kind creation. What is it that makes my curated woods so special? 

When speaking about a particular cut of wood, the shape of the grain and the pattern it makes are referred to as its figure. Since all woods have a grain pattern, if “figured wood” means “this wood has a figure”, then all wood is figured wood. Instead, I like to define ‘Figured Wood’ as “Wood that possesses an interesting and desirable figure”. Burls are an example of figured wood. As are spalting and chatoyance.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder; from an artistic point of view, here are a few types of figuring that I pay particular attention to when selecting a piece:

  • The grain pattern.  Notice how there appear to be two different patterns overlapping one another.  This is a telltale sign that you’re getting wood from the joint of the trunk and a branch, or a gnarled part of the tree.
  • These irregularities can really alter the color range of the wood grain.  Notice how the clashing patterns run from very dark to very light in much more interesting ways.
  • The horizontal grain forms ripples, or curlsthat are a prized feature in their own right. Curly wood is formed from unique growing conditions and pressure on the grain, and take on a shimmery, 3D effect known as chatoyance that is highly prized.


When it comes to my creations, you are getting a one-of-a-kind piece of woodworking, and it will never look exactly like a picture of another piece of the wood, or a past piece of mine.

I am always pleased to show customers my figured wood option for their commissions, so feel free to drop me a line or message me on Facebook if you’d like to see some of my wood inventory and pick the grain pattern (and figure!) that’s perfect for you.



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