Natural or Unnatural Wood?

Natural or Unnatural Wood?

Many of you know that I work predominately with native woods to West Virginia.  Having harvested trees and converting them to usable lumber for my shop is very gratifying and economical.  Sometimes this results in top quality boards that are straight-grained and easy to machine or hand plane. 

I know some woodworkers refer to this as “natural grain”.  However, the unusual grains, such as curly, birds eye, burl or crotch really make a project stand out.  So when I see one of these growing in the forest it is an exciting find! 


If straight-grained is called “natural” then is figured grain called “unnatural”?  If it grows in this form how can it be “unnatural” when it is naturally occurring?  I recently spent a few days in the Cranberry Backcounty camping, fishing, biking and hiking in the Monongahela Forest.  While there I saw several large burls and some potential curly grained trees. 

Of course there were the large, straight trees that would result in several hundred bd ft of top quality lumber.  I did find one large, straight cherry tree that when I “hugged” it my arms would not reach half way around the tree (Diameter Breast Height). 

lumber Am I the only one that gets excited finding these in the forest?  What is your favorite “unnatural” or figured wood to use in your shop?

Enjoy your shop time,