Since the beginning of civilization wood has always been appreciated for its decorative value. It’s commonly understood that wood comes from trees. The inherent qualities and unique characteristics given to a piece of wood can be traced back to the original tree from which it was cut. As woodworkers, realizing that wood is a natural element whose grain, color and appearance is greatly influenced by the specific environment in which it grows is the key to successfully working with it.
Figured wood is a factor of its overall appearance and can be traced back to the cellular structure and physiological functions of the original tree. The term figure is used to describe the distinctive appearance or “markings” on the woods surface. Figuring in wood comes from the combination of a species’ normal wood anatomy, changes in grain structure from growth abnormalities, extractives that change the appearance and the orientation of the wood surface during the cutting process.
Whatever the cause, figured wood is highly prized for its uniqueness and artistic beauty. Whether as a veneer or dimensional lumber cabinetmakers, woodworkers and consumers alike treasure the experience and products from this material.