What Wood Species is This?

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Forum topic by shaun posted 10-14-2007 02:15 AM 4152 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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360 posts in 3871 days

10-14-2007 02:15 AM

This is a basement window sill from a house that was built circa 1930. The existing windows are in seriously tough shape and appear to be original to the house. I’m replacing them with vinyl and was trying to keep as much of the exsting frame as possible. After carefully extracting the frame from the foundation I sarted to clean these up, quick passes through the jonter, planer, some sanding etc. At first I figured the wood to be run of the mill fir or pine but let me tell ya, this stuff is hard as a rock!

I’m actually thinking about building new frames and saving this stuff for a project. Can anyone tell me what you think it might be?

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-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

9 replies so far

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3878 days

#1 posted 10-14-2007 04:42 AM

Looks like Southern Yellow Pine to me. Given that it may be from the 1930’s it could be from old growth trees with very tight growth rings (I can’t really make out the ends of the board in your pictures). This typically produces dense and hard wood. Even if it is newer wood than that, SYP is still a lot harder than the typical Fir or Pine that you will find at the home centers.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3928 days

#2 posted 10-14-2007 05:15 AM

I think Mark is right.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#3 posted 10-14-2007 05:18 AM

Can’t say what species that is… but I’ll tell ya, any of the wood I’ve reclaimed from my house (circa 1880) mostly pine, has been clearer, tighter grained and way better looking (and easier to finish – a quick look around the room – newer timbers are blotchy, the older stuff is smooth and very evenly finished all done with the same stain at the same time) than any stuff straight from the big box. I can’t believe how far apart the growth rings are on a lot of the 1x these days. would be nice to have some projects around the house, made from the house – a second life, and a testament to all the history in your home.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4034 days

#4 posted 10-14-2007 05:51 AM

Best I can tell.Me thinks it pine.

-- Scott NM,

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 3871 days

#5 posted 10-14-2007 11:36 AM

SouthernYellow Pine it is then. Thanks for the answers. Sorry about the lousy end grain pictures, I was being called to dinner (for the third time) and was rushing to get the pictures posted last night. You’re right about the growth rings, they are super tight, this particular board is from the very center of the tree.

There were countless layers of paint on them so started cleaning them up with a scaper to get the lions share of the paint off before before trying to sand any of it. I ended up getting very aggressive with the scraper and didn’t even nick the wood. After I started sanding I had to double check and make sure I grabbed the right paper. I put P60 on the sander and it mght as well have been 0000 steel wool. After I finally got it cleaned up I jointed the edges and ran it through the planer barely taking 1/32 off and it nearly bogged the planer to a stop.

I really thought I had stumbled across some mystery wood, looks like pine but acts like steel. I’ve worked with plenty of pine in my life, never any as hard as this, but everything you guys say makes sense to me.

I think we’re going to build some new frames and hang on to this stuff. I’ve got 8 windows to do, that ought to be enough wood to build something cool.

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3956 days

#6 posted 10-14-2007 02:08 PM

Ya know, I wonder if the original carpenter treated the sills with a hardner?

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3859 days

#7 posted 10-14-2007 02:42 PM

I wouldnt rule out Western “Fir”. The top picture certainly looks like it could be. I have worked with quite a bit of westeren fir, reclaimed from graineries/factories etc. It’s like concrete. Albeit its pinkish in colour it can also have yellowish tones like that of pine. Fir was used extensively for things like window and door sills, flooring and structural posts and beams. It is also hardlike concrete/steel, especially when it dries out.

I made the cottage with re-claimed Fir posts and beams from Hiram Walkers Distilleries, same with the guest cottage… hydro back then, even the home made crane is re-claimed fir

main cottage

guest bunkie

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4366 days

#8 posted 10-14-2007 05:01 PM

Nice Diggs Roman. A great job.

Post it as a project, please.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Aubrey's profile


43 posts in 3937 days

#9 posted 10-16-2007 12:22 AM

Southern Yellow Pine would be my vote as well.

SYP has a very distinctive odor when you cut or plane it but I would be hard pressed to describe it.

Our home was built circa 1880 and your window parts look very familiar to me. We have some Cypress thrown in here and there as well. Lots of really cool mortise and tenon joinery and peg construction too but unfortunately you have to go into the attic or underneath the house to see it.

I can tell you from experience that the stuff is very very hard even without any additional effort from the original carpenters.

When we remodeled our bathroom I had to drill pilot holes and then use stainless steel screws because regular drywall screws would just twist into two pieces.

That old pine cleans up beautifully and with just a little bit of linseed oil topped off with a couple of coats of wax it takes on a striking glow.

It will be great to see what sort of project you end up using it for.

-- Jesus was a Jewish carpenter.

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