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RAY FLAKES (FLECKS)


Rays are ribbons of parenchyma cells that carry nutrients laterally through the bole in hardwoods. In some woods, these are very pronounced and a quartersawn board from such a tree will look very different from a flat cut board from the same tree because in the quartersawn board the surface of the board will contain significant swaths of ray cells. These are formally called "ray flecks" or "ray flakes" but more often are just called flakes or flecks. "Flecks" is the preferred term but a lot of us learned it as "flakes" and that is an acceptable alternate term. You will occasionally see the terms "button figure" or "snowflake figure" for heavily flaked woods but the most common term is simply "flaky".


Examples:


All of these pics are of quartersawn wood, because that's the only kind of cut that fully shows ray flakes. Rift cuts will sometimes show considerable ray figure, as you can see in the bowl pics at the bottom of this page. The woods that I am familiar with that show the most prominent flakes include lacewood and red and white oak. Very likely, there are many others.


Lacewood has VERY strong rays and thus the most prominent flakes of any wood I am familiar with, but even for lacewood, the flakes in this board are amazing.


small flat cut sapele plank showing side grain (which is, of course, quartersawn) and a closeup --- this is an excellent example of very small, but very clear, ray flakes.

 
sycamore --- the first pic shows the kind of exceptionally long flakes that you can get in a perfectly quartersawn surface and the 2nd shows smaller flakes from a surface that is not perfectly quartersawn.

 
silky oak --- the first pic shows the kind of exceptionally long flakes that you can get in a perfectly quartersawn surface and the 2nd shows rift cut silky oak with the ray flakes showing as little ovals


Australian lacewood, Brazilian lacewood, and leopardwood


White oak, white oak, and burr oak. The first piece of white oak is perfectly quartersawn and the flakes are fat but in the second piece of white oak it is not perfectly quartersawn so the rays are thinner.


American black cherry, beech, and birch


black ash, black hawthorn, and bocote%203


hard maple, sheoak, and teak


wawabima and zircote