But one woodworker has stumbled on to a wonderful way to visually display how a tree really goes together. He started out by applying his love of wood turning to the task of seeing how thin a cross-section of wood he could turn. Once he had his extra-thin disc, he probably noticed that the less dense early wood tended to crumble away as he got too thin...leaving a web-like skeleton of a tree in his hands. Being an electrical engineer, he was probably familiar with the high-tech machines that are used to put a fine sand-blasted finish on circuit boards to eliminate any extra solder or fiberglass that could impair the functioning of the circuits. Ingenuity being what it is, he probably thought to himself...hey, I could use a circuit-board sand-blaster to knock out all this early wood, and it would look real neat.
Well, he was right.
The art work he's produced does look amazing, but to us at Go Wood the real value of his work is to bring all those wood technology drawings to life. The web produced by the intersection of the medullary cells (we generally just call them rays) with the remnant ring of dense late wood cells gives us a visual sense of just how the strength of wood is accomplished. Imagine this wood web a hundred thousand or so layers thick, and you have the stem of a tree. No wonder it's so strong.
Here's a picture of oak cells for comparison with the wood "lace" in the video.
From the picture, we can see that the earlywood being removed with the circuit-board sand-blaster is very porous, and that the latewood bands that are left are held together by the thick wall fibers. Thus, the spidery bands of remnant wood we see in the video.
Any guess, then, why the art works in the video are being performed on oak? Well, in softwoods and diffuse-porous hardwoods, there is far less differentiation between the earlywood to be removed and the wood to remain. Take a look at this picture of a diffuse-porous hardwood.
You might think that heavy, dense diffuse-porous woods, such as many of the tropical species, would also be good candidates for this type of wood-turning skeletonization. But the sand-blasting process would have to be done on individual cells, not on bands, so that already tedious process would become extremely tedious.
So, now you know what the inside skeletal structure of a tree really looks like, and how it is all engineered by nature to support the tree's weight.