Burl figure is one of the rarest and most beautiful figure patterns. Burls are balloon shaped growths composed of swirls of grain laced with eyes.
"Ambrosia" is a term that's commonly applied to lumber from eastern red and silver maples that has streaks of color caused by an infestation of the ambrosia beetle.
Angel Stairs or Angel Step is a figure pattern found in lumber cut from trees that have twisted trunks, and is common in maples and walnuts.
Bird's-eye is the name for a figure pattern most often associated with hard maple (acer saccharum), but I have found it in many other species, including koa, black walnut, cherry, Tasmanian blackwood, and a few rosewoods.
Crotch is a figure that develops when a tree knits a trunk to a branch or when two branches come together. The figure is also referred to as plume or a feather.
One of the most common figure patterns, curl is also known as tiger stripe and ripple. Curl is compression grain perpendicularly crossing the face of a board, producing alternate stripes of hard and soft board fiber. This phenomenon creates a chatoyantcy in the board, varying in strength depending on the degree of compression leaving the viewer with the illusion of a three-dimensional surface.
Fiddleback is a figure pattern specific to musical instrument builders, in particular luthiers. Classical stringed instruments — violins, cellos, upright basses, etc. — are traditionally built of quartersawn European Maple, also known as English Sycamore or European Sycamore.
Spalting is a figure pattern caused by fungus . It produces black streaks usually growing with the grain and can result in a beautiful marbling.
The word tiger conjures up images of a spectacularly striped animal stalking through the jungle. Transpose this image onto the face of a board and you now know why this word is associated with the tiger figure pattern.