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The title pretty much sums it all up. When selecting quarter sawn lumber, why should the very center (pith) be avoided?

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    if you buy a wider board and cut either side of the pith, you'll have nice quartersawn lumber – Edward Kirton Feb 17 '17 at 21:44
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The pith is what remains from the time when the tree was but a lad. It's soft and weak. Using it in woodworking would be like making something out of a bush. When the pith is exposed on two faces of a board, it will often crack and fall out.

It's also under stress. If you look at 4x4 posts at HD or Lowes, you'll notice that many of them have a split that runs from one face down to the pith. If you're going to make something that includes the pith (called "boxed heart"), you can make a cut that mimics this split and reduces the tension. Japanese woodworkers like to make this cut and then insert a piece of softwood to cover it up.

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    Good to know, since you just saved me from naively using a pith section in my next project! – Doresoom Mar 17 '15 at 18:19
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    I'm interested in the japanese use. I'm going to have to research...BACK TO THE LIBRARY! – BrownRedHawk Mar 17 '15 at 18:49
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    "LIBRARY" says the guy on the internet? :) – FreeMan Mar 17 '15 at 19:17
  • "LIBRARY" concurs this guy. Don't trust anything written after WWII when discussing technique. When it comes to really understanding how wood moves and settles, don't trust anything written after the civil war. – saltface Mar 17 '15 at 19:38

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