previous
  • Buyer's Guide to Insulation
    Buyer's Guide to Insulation
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad
  • The Hobbit House and More
    The Hobbit House and More
  • Shorten a Prehung Door
    Shorten a Prehung Door
  • Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • Remodeling in Action
    Remodeling in Action
  • 12 Remodeling Secrets
    12 Remodeling Secrets
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • Play the Inspector Game!
    Play the Inspector Game!
  • 9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertops Ideas
  • Electrical Articles & Videos
    Electrical Articles & Videos
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details
  • Video: Build a curved step
    Video: Build a curved step
  • Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • The Passive House Build
    The Passive House Build
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
  • Deck Design & Construction
    Deck Design & Construction
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • How to Install Housewrap Solo
    How to Install Housewrap Solo
next
Pin It

The grain scribe

I use logs and site-milled timbers in my work, and as I search for which logs to use where, I study the logs for twist. A log or timber with grain that twists more than 1 in. for each 10 in. of length is used only in certain areas, such as the first couple of courses in a log house where the weight of the upper logs will stop the bottom ones from twisting. In critical areas such as roof systems, spiral grain must be less than 1 in. in 20 in.

To track the twist in a log's grain pattern, I use the grain scribe illustrated here. This simple tool starts out as a 4-in. strap hinge. I bend one end of the hinge so that it's perpendicular to the hinge knuckles. Then I run a bolt through the bent end and sharpen the bolt to a fine point. The other end of the strap hinge ends up inside a wooden handle.

To use the grain scribe, I snap a chalkline down the center of the log and place the scribe's point on the line at one end of the log. As I pull the scribe down the log, its point follows the grain. The hinge allows the point to follow the grain around knots and other imperfections. Measure down the log in multiples of 10 in., and then measure the distance from the chalkline to the point of the grain scribe. The distance from the line to the scribe point over the distance traveled is the ratio, or grain slope, of the log.