Figuring Out Figure: Tiger
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.
Tiger is a compression figure of stripes lying across the grain of a board. The compressions can vary in density and spacing from one log to another. This is what determines the degree of figure. The greater the variance between soft and hard texture, the more striking the figure. The degree of figure is often rated 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A. This is a completely relative rating system with one person's 2A being another's 4A.
Tiger and curl are similar and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. We refer to a board as being tiger-striped when the stripes are long and bold. Curl figuring is shorter often with overlapping "squiggles."
Tiger figure is found in many species — soft maple, big leaf maple, black walnut, koa — the list goes on and on. Some of our favorites are Tasmanian blackwood, Swiss pear, soft maple and koa, shown above right. Traditionally, tiger maple, below right, was used by the colonials for fine furniture and Kentucky (Pennsylvania) rifle stocks. Today, tiger-figured lumber is prized throughout the woodworking community for all fine applications, from musical instruments to jet airplane interiors. It can be used for a whole piece of furniture or for just featured panels. As with any figured lumber, tiger takes a greater skill level, sharp tools and a steady hand but with a little patience the spirit of the tiger will be loose and the results will be spectacular!
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