Tips for finding the best grain in a board
Mason McBrien's tips will help any woodworker get the most out of their lumber stash–without sacrificing beautiful grain selection.
See the grain
When breaking down a board, Mason McBrien likes to use a clear template a little bigger than the part he’s laying out. This way, he makes sure the grain is exactly what he wants.
Straight rips at the bandsaw
Because laying out for grain often means running at an angle to the board’s edge, use the bandsaw for rips. A jigsaw can handle the crosscuts.
Rip adjacent parts from single wide board
Ripping nearby upper and lower parts from a single wide board keeps the grain matching between the two, strengthening the project’s aesthetic harmony. Mark the end grain so you can easily identify matched pairs later.
Legs need rift grain
Look for straight grain on the edge of an 8/4 board as well as straight grain on the face. Ideally, you want growth rings that are evenly spaced on all faces and run 45° across the ends.
Make wide tops from a single board
This ensures grain and color match. Crosscut the board and use one half as the middle of the glued-up top; the second half gives you straight, riftsawn edges.
Glueline disappears in the rift
Rotate the riftsawn edges end for end and glue them onto the first half of the board you crosscut, and the glueline vanishes in the straight grain. The tighter and straighter the grain, the better the effect.
With tapered legs, split aprons, and profiled top, Mason McBrien’s table was designed to showcase the lightness and straight grain of the American white ash.