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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 04-11-2012 06:57 AM 1095 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


04-11-2012 06:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood working characteristics

Several years ago, Roy was talking about a sled some one had made. He said the maker really knew his woods as he used hickory or ash for the runners, something else for another part. Today on another thread about black locust, it was mentioned it is full of silica and is very hard on tools.

What are all the rules of knowing your woods? The highest and best uses? Many of them aren’t mentioned in wood working characteristics.

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


20 replies so far

View stefang's profile

stefang

13530 posts in 2057 days


#1 posted 04-11-2012 09:53 AM

Hi Bob. Good question. There are lots of sites that give general characteristics and how they behave while being worked, but my guess is that most woods can be used for so many things that it would be pretty difficult to list them.

I agree that it is useful to know their main use areas, but if you know that a wood is unstable due to humidity changes and splits easily for example, then you would think twice about making a solid wood table top out of it. On the other hand it might be great as a veneer. The link below is a typical site for wood characteristics.

http://www.woodbin.com/ref/wood/

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Roger

15051 posts in 1527 days


#2 posted 04-11-2012 02:27 PM

very interesting. Also @ Stefang: thnx for the link

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


#3 posted 04-11-2012 04:11 PM

Thanks for the link Mike. That is the most comprehensive site I have seen on the subject.

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

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Brian Havens

194 posts in 1829 days


#4 posted 04-11-2012 06:07 PM

This has been a growing interest of mine as I get ever more involved with this wonderful medium we call wood. I found it less often important for general furniture making, but it often becomes essential when turning,making wooden hand tools, etc.

I find that the data available on the characteristics of wood is an invaluable starting point, but that you really have to augment that information by working with the species before you can really appreciate its pros and cons.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker http://brianhavens.com

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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


#5 posted 04-11-2012 06:24 PM

That is more what I am looking for. A guide that presents that intimate knowledge that only comes with experience. Maybe a good book for Roy to write ;-))

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

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stefang

13530 posts in 2057 days


#6 posted 04-11-2012 07:03 PM

Bob, if you are thinking about appropriate woods for turning, I think most woodturners would agree with me that most woods are suitable for turning.

But one mistake you can avoid is to cut up a green log into workpiece sizes before you intend to actually turn them It is better to cut just the pieces you will turn right away. This is especially true of end grain disks cut off the log which dry out and crack rather quickly.

I do agree with Brian that it’s more important to build up your experience with the different woods as you try them out.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


#7 posted 04-11-2012 07:17 PM

Not really turing, more like knowing what is best for any given situation. Like Roy said about using hickory for the runners on the Woodwright’s shop. It has been several years, but I recall him saying something about using several other woods for various parts of the project. More of a utility thing like knowing dogwood shoots are for arrows ;-)) When i was a kid there weren’t many trees around and no dogwood, so we had to use cattails to make arrows. It didn’t take long for a few of use to be waste deep in fuzz beating the seeds off of them. We needed that hard end for impacts ;-)

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

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a1Jim

112529 posts in 2300 days


#8 posted 04-11-2012 07:35 PM

Hey Bob
I guess it’s a matter of studying the most used woods in your area town.state,USA . If you have a project check out the link Mike gave(good one Mike) and see what fits your needs best. I think it’s kind of like finishing lots of folks have their go to finish and woods work the same way after you have tried a particular wood you have a feel for how it mills.stains,bends etc. The other trick is remembering it as you get older :))

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


#9 posted 04-11-2012 07:51 PM

Jim, This is more of a long term quest for knowledge that a particular project or need. I guess I am just to curious ;-) Here in the NW, we lack the diversity of the eastern hardwood forests. Mostly we do it with fir, hemlock, cedar, alder or maple unless you happen upon a domestically planted tree.

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

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stefang

13530 posts in 2057 days


#10 posted 04-12-2012 08:57 AM

Bob, There is a lot of culture in finding out about how the various woods were used by different people. Farmers in the pre-industrial period for example made almost all of their farm implements from wood. They often used used several types of wood for the components of one tool for strength, workability, durability, etc.. They also walked through the woods in the winter and marked out workpieces on the trees for later cutting. They often tried to select shapes that were similar to the component they wanted so they could use the natural strength of the piece, where a limb connected to the trunk for example.

Windsor chairs are a good example too. They were usually made from several types of wood for their different characteristics, mainly to insure tight joints and strength where needed.

It’s a big subject. Historically wood was widely used by almost every industry and they all had preferences for what was best for their use. I think you would learn a lot about these uses by searching for info by craft. Rifle makers, wheel makers, archery, farming, furniture, coach makers, to name just a few, all with a historical perspective.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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eddie

7493 posts in 1337 days


#11 posted 04-12-2012 09:31 AM

you know i’m new to this craft and learning something everyday.i used to go to the projects and look at the project builds and videos and that was it but as of here of late i have been reading some of the blog and forums like this one it was very informative to listen to uall talk and learned something i was told once as a kid that god gave me two ear and one mouth to stay quite and learn i guess its still true even at my age ,very informative post

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

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crank49

3481 posts in 1694 days


#12 posted 04-12-2012 02:13 PM

Interesting point about Historical uses. I just recently read that the original settlers of this country made most of their furniture from softwood because they needed all the hardwood for heating and cooking fuel. Kinda made me cringe to think of all the beautiful hardwood that went up in smoke.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

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stefang

13530 posts in 2057 days


#13 posted 04-12-2012 02:35 PM

Crank They probably preferred soft wood for furniture if they were making their own because it was a lot easier and quicker for them to work with considering the limited and not very high quality tools they had. Hardwood is better for the fireplace as it burns a lot slower and more evenly. I agree with you that it seems a shame to burn up so much good hardwood. Here in Norway we use mostly Birch, it burns very clean and leaves minimum soot in the chimney (an important safety point to prevent chimney fires). We burn about two cords a year to keep our house warm.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2399 days


#14 posted 04-12-2012 03:52 PM

Good idea on searching the trades Mike. I read (don’t remember where) that at the time of the Rev War, wood cutters were having to go out a 100 miles from Philadelphia to get firewood.

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

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sandhill

2128 posts in 2647 days


#15 posted 04-12-2012 04:39 PM

stefang Good resource thanks. TopamaxSurvivor a lot of what you are pointing out I guess comes from experience and no one took the trouble to write it all down. This sounds like material for a good resource book.

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