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Open AccessArticle

Microstructure and Mechanism of Grain Raising in Wood

Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Centre for Wood Durability and Design Life, University of Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast QLD 4558, Australia
Bioresource, Paper and Coatings Technology, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang 11800, Malaysia
Centre for Advanced Microscopy, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Coatings 2017, 7(9), 135;
Received: 8 August 2017 / Revised: 22 August 2017 / Accepted: 24 August 2017 / Published: 29 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood Coatings)
PDF [7211 KB, uploaded 2 September 2017]


Grain raising, the lifting of fibres when water is applied to wood surfaces, is a reason why some companies are reluctant to finish wood products with water-borne coatings. However, the elements that lift-up and cause grain raising have not been identified, and the relationship between wood density and grain raising has not been clarified. Our work sought answers to both questions. We planed or sanded different woods using aluminum oxide abrasive paper, and characterized surfaces using profilometry and SEM. Surfaces were re-characterized after wetting and drying. Grain raising is inversely related to wood density. In particular, very low-density woods are highly susceptible to grain raising, whereas grain raising does not occur in high-density woods or planed woods. In low-density woods, sanding tears cell walls creating loosely-bonded slivers of wood that project from surfaces, particularly after wetting and drying. This mechanism for grain raising was confirmed by modelling the action of abrasives on wood cell walls using an array of hollow tubes and a serrated tool. Less commonly, fibres and fibre-bundles project from surfaces. We observed that grain raising was correlated with the coarseness of the abrasive and conclude that it can be reduced in severity by tailoring sanding to account for the density and surface microstructure of wood. View Full-Text
Keywords: wood; grain raising; sanding; water-borne coatings; fibres; slivers; confocal profilometry; scanning electron microscopy wood; grain raising; sanding; water-borne coatings; fibres; slivers; confocal profilometry; scanning electron microscopy

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Evans, P.D.; Cullis, I.; Kim, J.D.W.; Leung, L.H.; Hazneza, S.; Heady, R.D. Microstructure and Mechanism of Grain Raising in Wood. Coatings 2017, 7, 135.

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