In This Wood

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But by cutting down trees, we are destroying forests and their unique, unquantifiable ecosystems; therefore, a forest cannot be renewable. There are many different names for woods; sometimes they are made-up new names for old woods to confuse people. Grace Jeffers tells us that we have to ask three questions every time we specify wood:.

From where did this wood originate? What is the state of the forest from which the wood was harvested? This is not easy to determine. You could spend your time studying the Red List of threatened and endangered woods , and even if your vendor says wood is sustainably harvested, it is hard to know for sure; the hot stuff can be mixed in and it is impossible to tell the difference.

Even the best certification systems have problems with this, particularly with imported woods. This material is made into flooring then sent to North America as being Sustainable and Green not mentioning anything about ruining the habitat for the last remaining Siberian tigers. They are in the local wood business and are not an unbiased source of information, but make a good point:. Would you buy a stolen car? Why walk on a floor made with stolen wood? Make the right choice and close flooring from forests that are sustainable.

The only way to be absolutely sure that your wood is good is to buy North American woods certified by a reputable third party system; that probably limits your choices to maple, oak, cherry, and ash. The travel distance is shorter, too, and it supports a local industry. More on good wood: Different types of wood timber: This wood is recovered from buildings, piers and warehouses being demolished; they were often built with huge beams and structural elements that can be sliced up into flooring.

It is often full of character. It can be expensive because it is a lot of work pulling out nails and preparing it. The trouble with reclaimed wood is that, in many places, old buildings have more value as materials than they do as buildings, so local structures that are part of the cultural heritage are being demolished. In North America, barns disappear from the landscape; in the Far East, teak is so valuable that entire generations of buildings are demolished for their wood. They provide hardwood timbers. Woods common in Egypt are marked red.

Woods not common in Egypt but imported on a large scale are marked blue. Types of wood Dicotyledons These are broad-leafed plants with two seed leaves. Acacia Acacia species Leguminosae-Mimosoidea. A flat topped tree.

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Wood Identification Guide | The Wood Database

Its flowers are yellow or white. The tree is common in hot deserts. Its use is limited by the small size of the timber, but nevertheless very popular. Acacia blossoms are common in garlands and collars. A small often shrubby tree, which is often found up to an altitude of metres, especially in Europe including Turkey, but not in Egypt. It is used for a wide range of objects, for which strong wood is important wagon-building, bows, arrows, musical instruments. A soft-stemmed shrub with large orange-yellow flowers. It is found on river-banks of rivers and lakes in Africa. It must have been imported from the lands south of Egypt.

There are only a few objects. Tree of middle size. It occurs in Europe, including northern Greece, but not in Egypt. There are only a few objects in Ancient Egypt made in this wood bows and staves. An evergreen tree found in moist woodland in all parts of Europe and the hills of western Syria. It is often used for sculpture and small items. A dark evergreen tree, which is found all around the Mediterrean, but in Egypt only found in gardens. It is used for furniture but also for mummy labels. Ebony is found in the dry savanna woodlands of tropical Africa and must have been imported from there.

It is used for furniture, inlays and sculpture. A tree with massive lateral branches. The fruits are smaller and less tasty than the common fig. The tree is sometimes represented in Egyptian art, and was very common for bigger objects.

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When examining the wood in question, compare it to other known wood species, and ask yourself these questions:. Many times we forget common sense and logic when attempting to identify wood. Some common-sense questions to ask yourself when trying to identify a piece of wood:. Despite its discoloration and wear, its very likely that this old rolling pin is made of Hard Maple.

Sometimes, after all the normal characteristics of a sample have been considered, the identity of the wood in question is still not apparent.

Believe it or not, freshly machined wood can have a very identifiable scent. Assuming there is no stain, finish, or preservative on or in the wood, quickly sand, saw, or otherwise machine a section of the wood in question, and take a whiff of the aroma. Although new scents can be very difficult to express in words, many times the scent of an unknown wood may be similar to other known scents.

For instance, Rosewoods Dalbergia spp. Although difficult to directly communicate, with enough firsthand experience scents can become a memorable and powerful means of wood identification. While certain woods can appear basically identical to one another under normal lighting conditions, when exposed to certain wavelengths—such as those found in blacklights—the wood will absorb and emit light in a different visible wavelength.

This phenomenon is known as fluorescence , and certain woods can be distinguished by the presence or absence of their fluorescent qualities. See the article Fluorescence: There are only a small number of chemical tests regularly used on wood, most of which are very specialized and were developed to help distinguish easily confused species with one another.

They work by detecting differences in the composition of heartwood extractives. A chemical substance called a reagent is usually dissolved in water and applied to the wood surface: Sometimes a wood species will have heartwood extractives that will be readily leachable in water and capable of conspicuously tinting a solution of water a specific color.

For instance, the heartwood extractives contained in Osage Orange Maclura pomifera contain a yellowish-brown dye that is soluble in water. This can sometimes be observed anecdotally when the wood is glued with a water-based adhesive: In a simple water extract color test, wood shavings are mixed with water in a vial, test tube, or other suitably small container, and the color of the water is observed after a few minutes. If the heartwood extractives are leachable by water, then a corresponding color change should quickly occur.

Because this property is quite uncommon, it can serve to quickly differentiate these woods from other lookalikes. Perhaps no other technique for accurate identification of wood is as helpful and conclusive as the magnified examination of the endgrain. Frequently, it brings the identification process from a mostly intuitive, unscientific process into a predictable, repeatable, and reliable procedure.

There are three components necessary to reap the full benefits contained in the endgrain:. When working with wood in most capacities, it becomes quickly apparent that endgrain surfaces are not nearly as cooperative or as easily worked as face grain surfaces. However, in this case, it is absolutely critical that a clear and refined endgrain surface is obtained. For a quick glance of a softwood sample, a very sharp knife or razor blade can be used to take a fresh slice from the endgrain.

However, in many denser species, especially in tropical hardwoods, one of the best ways to obtain a clear endgrain view is through diligent sanding. It need not be expensive, but whatever tool is used to view the endgrain should have adequate magnifying power. In most instances, 10x magnification is ideal, however, anything within the range of 8 to 15x magnification should be suitable for endgrain viewing. Standard magnifying glasses are typically in the range of 2 to 4x magnification. These stronger magnifiers, sometimes called loupes , usually have a smaller viewing area than standard magnifying glasses.

Fancier models—with built in lights, or larger viewing surfaces—are available at a premium; but the most basic models are usually only a few dollars. The third element that constitutes a proper endgrain examination is simply knowing what to look for. In analyzing the patterns, colors, shapes, and spacing of the various anatomical features, there is a veritable storehouse of information within the endgrain—all waiting to be unlocked. Yet, if these elements have not been pointed out and learned, the array of features will simply seem like an unintelligible jumble.

The discipline of recognizing anatomical endgrain features is not easily summed up in a few sentences or even a few paragraphs, but it is nonetheless critical to the identification process. To this end, an in-depth look should be given to the various categories, divisions, and elements that constitute endgrain wood identification on the macroscopic level. In this regard, macroscopic denotes what can be seen with a low-powered, 10x hand lens—without the aid of a microscope—rather than simply what can be seen with the naked eye.

Something more beautiful than one could imagine exists.

Because the anatomy between softwoods and hardwoods is so divergent, each will be considered and examined separately:. Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide. It contains many of the most popular articles found on this website, as well as hundreds of wood profiles—laid out with the same clarity and convenience of the website—packaged in a shop-friendly hardcover book.

Thanks for providing this forum to further our education about wood! Very tight grain see end grain in the photo and very heavy Can anyone possibly identify what species by common name? Many thanks in advance. I pulled it from an old shipping crate and planed it down.

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I build furniture and I find 7 or 8 cherry trees pushed over by the stars to wilden the road. Hi Eric, I read through your guide and found it thoroughly helpful but in this circumstance I was unable to reach a confident conclusion. The door is from Indiana, though I am not sure if the wood originated there. Sorry for my ignorance. What is your opinion on it? Looks like stained oak to me. Those little black spots are made with a technique called flyspecking, which was popular in the 70s and 80s….

What type of wood are my kitchen cabinets? Also, does anyone know the color that you would call them? Is it a white wash? There is an odd color tint to them. Pretty tough to ID with a grain that is so bland. This is a hall tree coat rack from, I think, early s. When stripped down, the wood was reddish. Do you know what kind of wood it is? Help please, Eric or anyone who has an idea what this timber is. The end grain pic shows light sanding. The boards were originally owned by an old neighbour 40 years ago whose hobby was making clock cases, but never used them.

They were given to me but until now I never had a use for them. The boards have been dry stored all these years, strapped between scaffold boards to protect them from warping. I understand they were delivered straight from the saw mill when new.

Advice would be appreciated, thanks, Glynn. I cannot figure out what type of wood this is. It was a part of a teak table around the teak slats. The one in the middle reminds me of walnut, but these pieces look strange, especially that brown heartwood splotch in the lower right corner of the picture. Can someone identify this for me?

Wood Identification Guide

I have enough to make a few bar stools that I thought would be kind of cool. Purchased this old dresser and when I sanded off the stain I could not identify this wood? Hello, Can anyone tell me the species of this wood please? A fair amount of it fell off a ship and washed ashore 16 years ago. In Wales, UK Thanks. This is a sample of a veneer from a 65 year old cedar chest. There are some areas chipped that I would like to fix, just not sure what the wood type is. Chest was made by Cavalier in Chattanooga, TN.

Any help would be appreciated. Wondering what this desk is made of. Any help would be great. I have been repairing this tool box which was made about 60 years ago.