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How do you know your woods???

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Forum topic by mhein68 posted 02-20-2010 04:26 AM 1282 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mhein68

62 posts in 2486 days


02-20-2010 04:26 AM

Hi all, I know that sounds like a stupid question.. But I am kinda clueless to identifing different woods.. I got the walnuts and pines, but oaks and such escape me.. Where I work we have alot of pallets come through and I would love to use free wood if I know what they were made of!? How do you learn your wood types? I am starting to collect samples as I find them. I have seen sample kits online but they seem expensive. am looking for cheap sources. Any reccomended Books/DVD’s or sources? Thanks for the help..

-- Mike, Southern IL


12 replies so far

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KMJohnson

165 posts in 2487 days


#1 posted 02-20-2010 04:29 AM

Go to woodcrafts or rocklers and look at the woods they have in stock. They will be labled and you can see the colors and grain patterns of most common wood.

-- Let's do it in the wood pile!

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2516 days


#2 posted 02-20-2010 05:25 AM

You could also visit local lumber suppliers.

And supplement it with pictures and information online. Although this won’t give you the “hands-on” experience, or the real 3-D visuals, it’s a decent place to start.

Here’s one that I found with a vast array of species: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-identification/ Not the best images, but lots of info.

If there are certain woods you find on there, just do a quick google search, such as “Red Oak Pictures” or “Red Oak Images”, or whatever species you want to see.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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rcs47

182 posts in 2595 days


#3 posted 02-20-2010 05:32 AM

Here is another website for pictures of different lumber types.

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/index.htm#letterK

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

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Beetroot

8 posts in 2485 days


#4 posted 02-20-2010 09:08 AM

A lumber place near me has labeled samples in their shop. I found that very helpful. Maybe visit some shops and see what they have on hand?

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TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3141 days


#5 posted 02-20-2010 10:16 AM

Just grab them if they are hardwood and halfway decent. They make good practice if they don’t turn out looking great.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2540 days


#6 posted 02-20-2010 03:32 PM

The primary way to tell woods apart is based on what they look like. However, you can also get clues based on how heavy they are and sometimes based on smell. For me, mahogany and ipe look a lot alike but I can tell the difference as soon as I pick up a piece – ipe is heavier.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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Andrew

709 posts in 2664 days


#7 posted 02-20-2010 03:53 PM

do not forget the power of smell. scratch and sniff works really well when you go to lumberyard and get a general idea of what they look and smell like. Lots of woods look king of similar but smell different too.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

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Sawdust4Blood

392 posts in 2487 days


#8 posted 02-20-2010 04:27 PM

I’m with Topamax. If it’s hardwood, take it regardless of what it is. There are hazards with recycled wood though that you need to be careful of. There can be lots of hidden metal waiting to destroy your power tool blades. Depending on what the pallets were used for, they can also have lots of grit in the wood. You might want to invest in an inexpensive metal detector if you’re going to be using a lot of this. I also save a warn set of planer blades to give recycled lumber a first pass through the planer rather than nicking up lots of good blades. If the lumber has really been exposed, it can be a good idea to cut an inch or so off the ends since end grain will suck up more of the grit and contaminants.

One clue to identifying pallet wood is the point of origin if you know it. People tend to make pallets from lumber that is readily available in the local market. As a result, pallets from overseas can hold some surprising treasures.

-- Greg, Severn MD

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Moffett77

32 posts in 2493 days


#9 posted 02-21-2010 09:16 PM

The Woodbook is a great way to get to know your woods, it offers descriptions and pictures of virtually every species on earth and shows finished and unfinished shots of each, as well as how each species looks from different cuts, quarter sawn, endgrain etc.

-- Moffett, Sacramento CA

View Mark's profile

Mark

1801 posts in 2739 days


#10 posted 02-22-2010 12:03 AM

http://www.themodernwoodsmith.com/woodspecies.php

theres a site for you with wood samples…

this here is the oak grain which is VERY similar to ash only it has the tiny brown lines in it which is the difference. this pic is very upclose

Photobucket

and this is the ash grain

Photobucket

-- M.K.

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SnowyRiver

51452 posts in 2946 days


#11 posted 02-22-2010 12:11 AM

I think you can get a good start by studying some samples and books, or going to a lumberyard and looking through the stacks of wood. Although over time as you work with different woods you will get better at identifying it.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2516 days


#12 posted 02-24-2010 12:04 AM

Greg,

Thanks for the info. on how you handle pallet wood. Good stuff.

Although I’ve thought about the metal detector, I didn’t really think about all the grit damaging your better blades.

I’m going to be getting a few pallets from my dad and will probably end up turning them into planter boxes of some sort. I’ll make sure to use your tips once I start the project.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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