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Author Topic: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science  (Read 1628 times)

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JK Lewis

Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« on: October 16, 2018, 07:50:06 PM »

Evening all. There's often lots of discussion about Narrow Grain willow and Wide Grain willow - the pros and cons, similarities, differences and everyone's personal preferences. I thought I'd run a little test on this, try to bring some amateur science to bear and see if I could shed any light on the issue, or simply add fuel to the fire. :)

I've chosen 2 clefts to study and mess around with over the next weeks and months. Best case they eventually become bats that can be tested against each other, we'll see how that works out. For now, some facts, and photos:

In this photo, the Wide Grain cleft is on the Left, the Narrow Grain cleft is on the right.



The Narrow Grain cleft is from a tree grown in Sudbury, Suffolk, about 3 miles from where I live. It was planted in 1987 and grew about 80 metres from the River Stour. I felled the tree on August 14th 2018 and cut this cleft on or around August 31st. It has 16 grains across the face of the cleft.

The Wide Grain cleft is from a tree grown in Boxford, Suffolk - approximately 4 miles away from the other tree. It was planted around 2006 and grew about 25 metres from the River Box. I felled the tree on August 7th 2018 and cut this cleft on 26th August. It has 5 grains across the face.

   

Due to my rudimentary sawing skills :) , the clefts are similar in shape and size, but not identical. The full dimensions of the 2 clefts are as follows:

                        Narrow Grain     Wide Grain

Length                 702 mm            770 mm 
Width                  125 mm            131 mm
Spine                   80 mm              72 mm
Edge                    56 mm              52 mm
Original weight    3992 g               3822 g
Today's weight     3226 g               2832 g


Both trees were mature enough to fell, but the Narrow Grain tree (Sudbury) was bigger. From the grain structure though (each gap between grains signifying 1 year of growth), we can see that the Wide Grain tree (Boxford) has been bulking up nearly 3 times faster, due to being planted considerably closer to the main water source and also benefitting from its location on a downslope. On average, the Wide grains are approximately 22 mm apart, pretty amazing growth each year to be honest.

Since being cut, both clefts have been airdrying in stacks in my workshop, within 5 metres of each other. Immediately after sealing them, I weighed both clefts and marked them with the measurements. In preparation for this post, I weighed them again today, approximately 6 weeks from their date of cutting.





So, this is the first interesting issue to comment on. As you can see from the scales, in just 6 weeks the Wide Grain cleft has dried faster, and has lost 990g - 25.9% of its original weight. The Narrow Grain cleft has only lost 776g - 19.2% of its original weight. This suggests to me that faster growing willow is made up of less wood fibre, and more water, which makes sense. The fibres of the wide grain cleft are therefore less dense and moisture is released more easily.

My personal belief is that there is little difference in performance between Narrow and Wide grain willow. But, I also believe that due to its higher density, narrow grain willow is stronger, and more durable - all things being equal, narrow grain bats last longer. I'm not sure if I will be able to prove or disprove this theory with this experiment, but I'll give it a go!

The next step will be to complete the drying of both clefts in a kiln. I will post an update at that stage. Any thoughts, comments or suggestions welcome.
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Buzz

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 07:56:26 PM »

Threads like this is what this forum is for. Thanks Justin.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 07:58:32 PM by Buzz »
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CricketXI

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 08:25:05 PM »

Very good little experiment. But as you suggested this is not a big enough sample to "Prove or disprove " the wide spread believes.
I would like to know from you and other forumites- Which cleft will they bank on to perform better as an end product.
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alexhilly1492

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 08:37:56 PM »

Fascinating!

Great thread!

Out of interest, where in the tree were these clefts from, top or bottom?
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JK Lewis

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2018, 08:42:43 PM »

Fascinating!

Great thread!

Out of interest, where in the tree were these clefts from, top or bottom?

Great question, sadly I don't have an accurate answer for you. All I can tell you is that the wide grain cleft came from a very standard tree, 4 rounds high. The narrow grain cleft came from a much older, taller tree, 10 rounds high.
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alexhilly1492

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2018, 08:45:09 PM »

Great question, sadly I don't have an accurate answer for you. All I can tell you is that the wide grain cleft came from a very standard tree, 4 rounds high. The narrow grain cleft came from a much older, taller tree, 10 rounds high.

Thanks for replying!

Ive been thinking recently if you can tell the difference between two bats purely based on characteristics from where in a tree they were from (higher or lower)?
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kaustav

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2018, 08:50:11 PM »

Very intriguing thread Justin. Thread of the month for me. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your experiment.

P.S: You should share a pic of your living room with the other bat neatly packed in the showcase. ;)
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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2018, 09:02:29 PM »

Would you able to measure displacement of a pendulum like item when dropped from a marked distance before and after the drying process?

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leatherseat

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2018, 09:09:16 PM »

Looking forward to seeing the results of this.

Sounds like the wide grain cleft is lower density and should therefore make a larger bat for a given weight. It will be interesting to see if this becomes reality, or if the rate of drying is the key difference, with the narrow grain ending up at a similar or lower density when the drying process has ended.
 
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addu84

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 09:52:11 PM »

Awesome Justin. Many thanks for this. I will definitely be following this closely !
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stevat

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 09:56:26 PM »

Great thread, always an interesting read your posts, and well written too - should collate them and release a book.

Very interested to see the results - I guess I would expect the wider grain to perform quicker given it's capacity to dry quicker and thus lower density. Who knows though?!?!
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JK Lewis

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2018, 10:15:36 PM »

Would you able to measure displacement of a pendulum like item when dropped from a marked distance before and after the drying process?

Interesting idea. What could I use? Would a golf ball work maybe? I'll have a think.
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InternalTraining

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2018, 11:12:21 PM »

Interesting idea. What could I use? Would a golf ball work maybe? I'll have a think.

Whatever is the object striking the surface should be (or closer to) 5.5 oz. Could be a cricket ball too. Spring loaded gadget with a flat surface ? Ultimately, the trick is to measure the rebound either distance or force and correlate the results with bat's performance after production.
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edge

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2018, 05:30:34 AM »

This will make interesting reading as usual Justin! My guessing is that if any conclusions are there to be drawn they'll tally up with the accepted wisdom of narrow grain bats perform earlier but wide grainers last longer. Will you aim to make them into identical shape or weight bats?

Performance testing would be relatively simple - lie the bats horizontally and drop a new ball from a set height. With a scale in the background and a decent quality camera recording it should be fairly easy to compare bats accurately. Not sure what there is to gain from testing before they're pressed but could be interesting if anything significant comes out of it.
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JK Lewis

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Re: Narrow Grain vs Wide Grain - Amateur Science
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2018, 08:16:34 AM »

Will you aim to make them into identical shape or weight bats?

Hello Ed, that's a question I've been pondering as well. I'm coming down on the side of same weight, variable dimensions, and then get properly good batsmen to test performance. But we have lots of time to debate the pros and cons!

Either way, we will need to rope in a better batmaker than I, who can make them as similar as possible. Maybe a forum sponsor might take up the challenge, in the name of science.
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