Let’s Learn About: Wane

Anatomy of A Rowhouse, Reclaimed Wood
We resisted calling this post Wane’s World, so we’re already off to a good start. What is wane? Or, more specifically, what is wane as it relates to wood?
The word itself is familiar enough, as in “waning strength” or “wax and wane.” The etymology is worth exploring- “wane” comes from the Old English “wana” meaning shortage or defect, which in turn comes from the Germanic “wano” which roughly translates to insanity.
Wane is shown as the dark triangle on the right (Image courtesy of decks.com)

Wane is shown as the dark triangle on the right (Image courtesy of decks.com)

In the wood world, wane is a rounded corner on a piece of milled lumber caused by the natural contour of a tree. In other words, wane is what happens when a tree isn’t quite big enough to yield that last piece of square lumber. Wane doesn’t necessarily weaken a piece of wood, but it does decrease the surface area for fastening floorboards and lath.
This stud features a couple waney patches. This is as the result of the knot you see towards the bottom of the piece, which would have grown into a branch, thus creating a bulge in the tree.
This stud features a couple waney patches. This is as the result of the knot you see towards the bottom of the piece, which would have grown into a branch, thus creating a bulge in the tree.
We come across quite a bit of wane. In some cases, traces of bark help us identify the species of tree which gave its life to become a stud or joist.
wane bark stud

From looking at the inner bark on this patch of wane, we can tell that this stud came from a loblolly pine tree.

In the woodworking world, there’s a strong demand for live-edge furniture, that is, furniture that features the outermost part of the tree, bark and all. This furniture is usually made from slabs from felled trees, but maybe a “wane-edge” cottage industry will crop up, too.
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