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Maple question.

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by neilG, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I notice, on nicer bridges where you can see the medullary rays, the rays are longer on the top side and often just dots on the bottom. Does this mean the the bottom is cut more more precisely perpendicular to the grain? Or the other way around? Thanks
  2. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    The stripes are on the side that was most nearly pointed directly at the center of the tree...the closest to a true "radial" cut.
  3. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Thanks. Does that apply to larger pieces like backs? The longer the flames the more of a true quarter cut?
  4. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Medullary rays, yes...I think the flame is harder to read, but in general, you are probably correct. I have maple whose flame runs all the way across a one-piece back, but which is slab-cut, not even close to quartered. So it probably is not a reliable indicator, unless you are really good at reading what kind of flame it is. For myself, I look at the end grain, and see which way the rings are pointing. then I am not guessing.

    But I have had people complain that I "left scraper marks" on spruce, and when I looked to see what they were talking about, of course, it turned out to be the very fine medullary rays showing up in the areas of the top that were exactly radially cut, and which can only occupy a small portion of the compound curve. Ah, well...not everyone appreciates that look.
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  6. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    You can get "flame" type figure from being more of a true quarter cut on some boards and on others it is, for a lack of a better term, part of the genotype. Some boards display flame, figure, or curl in every direction and cut, like curly hair; you can see it all the way through to the bark on the outside of the tree. This tends to be the most beautiful but also the most structurally weak- the grain goes in all kinds of twisting, turning directions. Personally, I'd rather have nice clear well quartered wood with no flame or figure, but the market prices get three times as much for the same instrument with lots of bling!

    A friend of mine likes to describe overly figured woods like blister quilted maple: it's like going to a girly bar and falling in love for all of the wrong reasons....


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