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How is sapele pommele cut from the tree?

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murrmac

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I am wondering if by any chance one of the experts here might have first hand knowledge of how sapele pommele is produced.

My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that the stripey sapele veneer figure which we have all seen on a million doors is produced by quarter sawing the log, and then knife cutting the quarter sawn surface.

The sapele pommele figure, on the other hand, I am assuming, is obtained by rotary cutting the veneer.

So the 1" thick boards which I have occasionally come across which have the beautiful sapele pommele figure, would I be correct in thinking that they are the result of the tree being flatsawn, (slab-sawn, crown cut, through and through, call it what you will) rather than quarter sawn ? And is the figure more pronounced nearer the perimeter of the tree, rather than towards the centre ?
 

Sgian Dubh

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You are correct to think the common stripey figure comes from either quarter sawn or rift sawn boards, or in the case of veneer, from a similar cut. The stripiness is due to interlocked grain. The fibres irregularly alternate between spiralling around the tree in one direction for a year, or a number of years, then they spiral in the other direction for a period of time.

Pommelle sapele boards generally come from tangentially sawn material, and the veneer version from the same -- generally sapele sent for veneer purposes isn't rotary cut as far as I'm aware. The pommelle figuring is due to wavy grain growth. Sometimes the grain forms a regular wave pattern, sometimes not. Planks cut from this form of growth pattern reveal ‘fiddleback’, ripple or curly figure, or variations of this pattern, including the pommelle pattern you asked about. The exact figure revealed depends on the length and breadth of the wave, the distance between wave peaks and the length between the height of one peak and the depth of the adjacent valley. Slainte.

 

murrmac

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Thanks, black knife, an informative response.

I am guessing that getting a good figure from the tree by tangential sawing is pretty much in the lap of the gods, and that not all trees would necessarily yield a striking pommele figure ?

Slainte Mhath ...
 

Sgian Dubh

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murrmac":29ud4884 said:
I am guessing that getting a good figure from the tree by tangential sawing is pretty much in the lap of the gods, and that not all trees would necessarily yield a striking pommele figure? Slainte Mhath ...
All true, but an experienced logger, sawyer, timber yard operative, or mill owner generally wouldn't miss the opportunity to use a log with curly grain or some such figure to greatest financial advantage, usually as a veneer log. The ripples and undulations are usually identifiable after picking off some bark, underneath which the ripple, or whatever, can usually be spotted in the sapwood. Slainte.
 

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