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A knot is a particular type of imperfection in a piece of wood; it will affect the technical properties of the wood, usually for the worse, but may be exploited for artistic effect. In a longitudinally-sawn plank, a knot will appear as a roughly circular “solid” (usually darker) piece of wood around which the grain of the rest of the wood “flows” (parts and rejoins). Within a knot, the direction of the wood (grain direction) is up to 90 degrees different from the grain direction of the regular wood.

In the tree a knot is either the base of a side branch or a dormant bud. A knot (when the base of a side branch) is conical in shape (hence the roughly circular cross-section) with the tip at the point in stem diameter at which the plant’s cambium was located when the branch formed as a bud.