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Thread: Can you identify a strange wood.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Can you identify a strange wood.

    Hi All

    Some time ago I stopped on the side of the road and picked up a hunk of wood that was from a tree cut up through roadworks. The leaves etc were all gone and being a stranger to North America I could not identify the bark. Cut a long story short I started looking for books to be able to identify wood. Trouble was most of the books assumed you could see the leaves or get a chunk of the bark. Well I found that even with this evidence many barks looked the same to me especially with small pics in the books. Recently I found this book,,46127&ap=1

    At the time it was on special and I bought it and tried out the manner in which you can identify wood. It help me tremendously and I thought it would help some of you.

    I was then thinking that there are several woods which get mentioned/used or bought here that i have never heard of being a "real commercial wood" (not grown in cultivated forests for lumber) and would like to discuss the merits of setting up to identify and catalog those woods. They are obviously not in the book. Any interest on the part of the family to do this.

    What I was thinking of here is if you have a piece of wood that you think would fit, you cut a small end piece such that the end grain could ve vissible enough to take a sample and identify it. You ship the piece to me. I will take a sample and photograph it, ( have a neighbor that is a photographer) and then I will publish a PDF with the picture of the wood, the picture of the annual rings and the name of the wood as you understand it. I am thinking of woods outside of say oak, maple etc. As an example I have never seen apple wood. Yes I have been near an apple tree but never thought it had the charateristics to be able to be harvested and used in projects.

    Once one has the detailed picture of the annual rings (cell structure and pattern) the rings become like a unique finger print. I think this could help many woodworkers out there. The key though is that you need to know for definite the name or origon of the wood that you send in. This would be vital for the output to have any credibility. The sample would need to be thick enough to have a number say 3 or 4 annual rings present to be able to see the cell structure in a repeatable manner.

    Any interest here to do this? Anyone else have this book. By the way the book is available from other sources and for the record I have no connection with either Lee Valley or the Author of the book. Just sharing the little I have found out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    When I inherited all my father's wood working stuff it included a number of display boards with samples of various wood types. At the time, I didn't think I would ever have use for them. Wrong. I trashed the lot. Wood come in handy now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway

    I wouldn't worry too much. I have a book very much like that. Full color photos of hundreds of species of wood. It was a well-meaning gift. While it's fun to browse, it's never been of any actual use in identifying even a single piece of wood. Too many color variations, too many grain pattern variations.

    Still, it *is* a lot of fun to look through, and see all the woods I'll never be able to work with. Kind of like reading Conde Nast Traveler...



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