Need help in IDing this wood

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Forum topic by Budmon posted 11-05-2012 12:43 AM 1843 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 2058 days

11-05-2012 12:43 AM

I’m very new to this forum and find it to be really informative and like it a lot. I’m also fairly new to woodworking at this level, being newly retired I have recently jumped in with both feet. I just bought a large lot of wood that had been in a barn loft for over 30 years. It was dirty and unrecognizable but was id’d by the seller as Cherry. After cleaning a piece and planing it down I am not sure what it is. Overall color looks a bit like cherry, but grain is a bit more pronounced than cherry and has flicks – really a lot nicer looking piece of wood than photo shows. I’ve got about 500 bf and need to know what it is before I can figure what to do with it.

-- Bud, North Carolina

27 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2625 days

#1 posted 11-05-2012 12:53 AM

Looks like cherry to me, welcome to LJs now its time to make some stuff with it.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3714 days

#2 posted 11-05-2012 01:28 AM

If it was Cherry , you would really notice its unique aroma when freshly milled. With the Spalting and the chatoyance in the photos , I’d go with a Maple….possibly Red Maple. Any way to get a picture in natural light….no flash ?
Also found this referred to as “Sycamore Maple”...don’t know what you have for trees in your neck of the woods : )

Here’s a link to HobbitHouse for Red Maple , if you’re interested : ),%20red.htm

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2590 days

#3 posted 11-05-2012 01:32 AM

maple seems like a good guess

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2237 days

#4 posted 11-05-2012 01:40 AM

Welcome to LJ, Bud.

That looks to me like it could well be cherry, but hard to tell from photos of one sample – it could just as well be maple or birch or any number of smooth grain, lighter color woods. Like dusty says, you would really notice the smell if it is cherry. Whatever the case, you’re sure to have fun building something with it.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Budmon's profile


27 posts in 2058 days

#5 posted 11-05-2012 01:52 AM

The confusion lies in that the wood was described as Cherry when sold – but it is has been in a barn loft for over 30 years – no discernible smell. I went on a site that id’s wood and came to the idea that it could be red maple but the examples on that site did not match that closely – but I am pretty sure that it is not cherry. I’ve had one woodworker suggest that it could be beech but I have reservations about that as well. I probably need to cut and plane another piece to make sure that I didn’t just pick an anomaly as an example. This wood is really pretty and I want to make sure I chose the optimum use for it. I thank all of you for your comments and look forward to a long relationship on this wonderful site

-- Bud, North Carolina

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3714 days

#6 posted 11-05-2012 02:02 AM

I could bet from your pix that it is NOT Cherry : ) The next board that you surface may well be though : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#7 posted 11-05-2012 02:41 AM

In my neck of the woods I don’t have cherry, so I can’t be sure. I do have some Maple along those lines.

Welcome to LJ’s!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View dalaminator's profile


2 posts in 2055 days

#8 posted 11-05-2012 02:58 AM

Freshly milled cherry would look a bit like maple but after time would age a lot ” warmer”. Just to
be sure, send me a few boards and I’ll check it out . : D

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3263 days

#9 posted 11-05-2012 10:43 AM

I’ve sawed a lot of both cherry and maple. I’ve seen cherry that was as light as maple when freshly cut and some maple that was as dark as cherry. Especially red maple. I’ve also seen those quartersawn flecks in both maple and cherry. The easy way to tell which you have is to sand a small piece and put some tung oil on it, then put it in the sun. The maple will darken slightly when you rub in the oil, so will the cherry, but in a short time the cherry will darken a lot.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


405 posts in 3048 days

#10 posted 11-05-2012 10:51 AM

Put a strip of painters tape on a freshly milled piece and set it in direct sunlight for a couple of hours. If it’s cherry, you will be able to see the difference in darkening caused by sunlight when you remove the tape.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2437 days

#11 posted 11-05-2012 11:05 AM

I’d bet steaks to cheeseburgers that it’s cherry. The color could be either cherry or maple, but cherry has a unique kind of flame that is quite different than the figure that shows up in maple. The ripples in these photos are the kind you see in cherry.

with that said, the tape test that Sawdust4Blood mentions will tell you for sure. Make sure to put the tape in one of the reddish areas, which will darken considerably more/faster than the whiter areas. I would give it a full afternoon to be certain.

-- Kelby

View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 2273 days

#12 posted 11-05-2012 12:51 PM

I’d vote cherry, but I’m not the best at IDing though photos.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2719 days

#13 posted 11-05-2012 04:01 PM

That looks identical to something milled up recently—I wasn’t able to figure out what species, but it was a cherry or berry tree of some sort. I’ll see if I can dig up a picture. Also, I don’t know that that is spalting.. Looks like a gum pocket. Where’s WDHLT15 when you need him?

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Budmon's profile


27 posts in 2058 days

#14 posted 11-05-2012 09:10 PM

I did the tape and sunlight test for the better part of the day with almost no change in color. Makes me think that I have a red maple or something similar. Question: does the fact that this wood had been sawn and sat in a barn loft for over 30 years have any effect on the darkening possibilities when exposed to sunlight? This wood is very dry and maybe the elements in the wood that cause it to change color have evaporated or dissipated somehow?

-- Bud, North Carolina

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3151 days

#15 posted 11-08-2012 11:40 PM

Hi Welcome. I am thinking Maple… some maple can be darker, some cherry can be lighter, but I love cherry and have been using it for a decade now. I guarantee Cherry only gets darker with age, oxidization and uv exposure, so after 30 years.. it would still get darker. I really doubt that it is cherry, but the boards, with the little bit of spalting and those inclusions look exactly like a maple to me… I use a lot of found wood and then dry it myself, so I find all kinds of maple figuring and grain and have come to realize which are unique to Maple.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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