Hello confused wood makers, WoodReviewer here. As I’ve stated before, I like to outline what I look for in wood grain and, as far as regular wood goes, I feel I’ve done that with several posts on how wood grain works. But there is one area that I have not done a post on: Wooden Planks. You see, unlike regular wood grain, proper use of wooden planks is more difficult. There is not one set of rules you can apply for most uses, and there are exceptions at times. But I’m getting ahead of myself; lets start off at the beginning.
Wooden planks are, basically, sheets of wood boards laid next to each other. This is what a sheet of wooden planks looks like.
Here is the same sheet, but recreated with regular wood.
Now, this may seem silly to post, but it shows how wooden planks are different from regular wood. For one, look at the ends of the texture and the individual planks. I left outlines on so it is easier to see, but the line that represents the gap in the pieces of wood goes vertical on the end.
This has been something I have talked about in many of my recent posts. The way the lines face on the end of wooden planks should match the way the go on the top/bottom. So for the ends, the lines should go vertical, and on the sides they should go horizontal.
Next up is some differences between wooden planks and regular wood. Look at this wooden board. It has bad wood grain because the wood grain goes the short way across the board.
However, if we take the same piece and make it wooden planks instead of regular wood, the wood grain is good.
Why? Well, look at this third example of basically the same thing. However, instead of one brick I recreated the second image with individual wooden bricks.
Because when you recreate the wooden planks with regular wood and all the individual pieces have good wood grain, the wooden plank texture is proper. So this mean that this orientation can also be correct.
Because it is possible to make it with regular wooden bricks while having all of those be correct.
“Ok WoodReviewer, you just spent several minutes telling us that wooden planks can be oriented in any direction and they will be correct. Why?”
No; I did not tell you that. What I told you is that wooden planks are correct when you can recreate the texture with regular wooden bricks and the wood grain is correct. This is a huge but subtle difference. In some cases, such as flooring, it means it can be oriented in any direction. Same with house siding and other decorative purposes. So what determines which orientation for the wood grain is correct? Context. Look at these this board, for example. Everything is fine from above.
But underneath? Not so much. Imagine the pink pieces of wood acting as supports for anything; either a bench, bridge, or general platform.
Now look at the same thing made with wooden boards. As you can see, there is nothing holding up the pieces of wood towards the center. While this is not an issue with wood grain, it is an issue with the boards being unsupported.
Compare it to a platform like this.
With this platform, all the boards have support due to the board that is running under them. Because of that, structurally, this is better. This is also an example of how more detail can make wood improper wood grain; if there was just a single piece of metal under these planks acting a bridge, everything would be fine. But if the creator tried to go fancy and make the first set of pictures, it would be improper.
One last issue for this blog post. One thing a bunch of people do is they have vertical posts like this made with wooden planks.
If this is made with regular wood, it looks like this.
Obviously nothing is wrong with this, but structurally it is weak; all the strength is just from wooden blocks being stacked on each other. So the correct way should be this.
Now, some of you may notice that this is just a bunch of slightly longer wooden blocks stacked on each other. And this is true and is due to an issue with the actual wooden plank texture. So how do you fix it? You can’t. But is it bad wood grain? No. And for the reasons why this is, you will have to check out my next blog post where I go over issues with the wooden plank texture.