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Thread: What to do when you find a wood you aint sure what it is.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256

    What to do when you find a wood you aint sure what it is.

    Hi All

    Well i thought i would post this as a heads up to other newbies like myself. Soem while ago i found a great few pieces of wood at the local garden waste dump.

    I sent some to Mac Cameron and he made a pen for me from it, and i also turned a little bowl from it. All excited i got to believe it was Osage Orange. Well the trouble with us all relying on internet pictures was that colors can be misleading when the lighting aint that great and you shoot a pic of your wood or work. Added to that you get the finish changing the raw wood so its pretty hard to be sure on the identification.

    Well while over at Exotic Woods last week for the Lie Neilson Hand tool event roadshow, i saw some wood that looked like my "Osage Orange". Turned out when i asked the guys there it was Sumac.

    Then to be sure it was not one of these local names i asked if they had any Osage Orange. Sure enough they showed me it as well.

    Thats when i realized what i had was Sumac.

    So pleased with myself i PM Frank to tell him the news. Now Frank alerts me to the fact that Sumac has species that have toxins in them that cause all sorts of rashes. I cannot identify my species due it being a log and no leaves to go by.


    So the moral of the story for all you newbies coming across new wood you aint seen or heard about before is proceed with caution and err on the side of safety until you definitely know for sure what you have. You never know.

    My concern is i sent some to Mack and so far he is ok I would have felt awful if he had broken out in something due to the wood i sent him.

    Often one lets ones enthusiasm get you carried away before you done your homework.

    Thanks Frank for the heads up. I never thought to check on wood toxicity before messing with that wood.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    10,604
    We have poison sumac around here but I think it's a bush rather than a tree.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
    Posts
    17,472
    rob if i recall your pieces were at least 8' diameter and if so its not sumac that you had it doesnt get that big. it was probally the osage orange or possible mullbery. both look yellow and then go brown after the air gets to it.. sumac does have some bad stuff in some speicies of it just like frank said. that variety is a bush not a tree, as you and i think of trees.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,098
    +1 on what Larry said. I think of ivy and sumac more of vines. Granted they can get to be pretty thick, 8". And believe it or not, some guys successfully turn poison ivy and sumac then when sealed with a finish do not pose a problem to the user. Some exotic woods create the same conditions, cocobola is a kissing cousin to poison ivy and when our local woodcraft store had a turning day for troop pens, the owner broke out severly with a poison ivy type rash and that is when we learned that fact.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    12,256
    Thanks guys my main point though that i dont want lost regarding the topic was I should have been more careful when finding a "new to me" wood.

    I have a number of books on trees and wood and yet got so excited by the beauty and color of the wood i did not even think to check what it was. Luckily i did not learn the hard way as no humans were harmed in the working of this wood.

    Yeah Larry i still aint sure this is Sumac. At some point i will take a piece over to the Exotic Woods guys to check.
    cheers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,098
    Exotic woods, spalted woods and even some common woods create reactions in the nasal cavities, eyes, ears and throats of some turners. Some have higher and lower tolerances to each species. So care should always be exercised. FOR or FIG woods are common and used often and identified later. Man don't stress on this!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

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