Shall we play a game?... Identify the mystery wood!? With Pics!

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Forum topic by BCurrent posted 12-30-2012 12:22 AM 1485 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2885 days

12-30-2012 12:22 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lumber unknown help identify wood guess

Hello Fellow LJ’ers… I’ve been lurking and learning from here for ages, but haven’t posted much, but now I’m in a quandary and need your expertise. Not long ago, I picked up some lumber for a few projects I had but also ended up picking up some additional lumber the gent wanted to get rid of. He did not know what it was nor do I so I bought it cheap and thought I’d just use it for odds and ends stuff, but after planing it this week, I’m not so sure i want to waste it. It has some very distinct grain running through it, often at random patterns along it’s length. Some of the boards are lighter in color, almost the same as birch but with more grain. Many of the boards have a darker tan hue that almost seems to have a reddish tinge at times. Having said that, I don’t think all of it is the same. The boards came in the same bundle, but there are three different colors of paint on the ends of the boards. Some boards are marked blue, these are the ones with the most ‘character’, darker hues of brown and tan, more grain patterns and quite a bit of ‘curl’. These boards also seem to be the most dense and at times close to knots and such, very dense, almost like an exotic wood. The rest of the lot are marked with orange and red. Is there any special meaning to these colors? I’m pretty sure it’s not anything I’ve worked with before, but that’s pretty limited to oaks, walnut, cherry maple, mahogany. I’m not going to rule out maple, but I’ve never seen maple with that much grain so distinct. So, that’s about all I know, time to hear from you guys! Feel free to ask questions, let the game begin! Here are a few pics… The two boards on the ‘right’ are both marked with blue, then other two on ‘left’ are red and orange. I’ve also included a piece of white melamine shelf for reference as pics don’t always show the colors well

Bill C.

18 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2727 days

#1 posted 12-30-2012 12:26 AM

Looks like some elm I have drying which gets darker as it ages.

Someone with more experience than I will chime in soon.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2473 days

#2 posted 12-30-2012 12:32 AM

Alder and red birch come to mind.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2804 days

#3 posted 12-30-2012 12:47 AM

maybe what the others said, but it looks a little like some hickory i’ve seen, but i don’t know if I think thats right

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

View Willardz's profile


59 posts in 2550 days

#4 posted 12-30-2012 03:16 AM

2 of the boards look like cherry to me. 3rd and 4th one from the top in the large picture. Others not sure.

-- I have Carrie, food, shelter, and wood to turn. What else do I need?

View Dusty56's profile


11830 posts in 3928 days

#5 posted 12-30-2012 03:53 AM

I also see some Cherry and Red Birch and a third that I’m not sure of.

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

View ErikF's profile


623 posts in 2484 days

#6 posted 12-30-2012 03:54 AM

I was moving some boards around earlier some of which were elm. Two of the boards (top two in 1st pic and the right two in the second pic) look exactly like it. The other two look like cherry.

-- Power to the people.

View BCurrent's profile


14 posts in 2885 days

#7 posted 12-30-2012 03:57 AM

Thanks for the guesses so far… I’ll add another 2 cents…

There are actually four pics shown… the top and bottom are of 4 boards… same boards, just different angle with the top pic having the white melamine shelf piece across the boards at the bottom of the pic. The middle two pics are close-ups? of the boards split into two pics… upper pic is of the two ‘right-hand’ boards, the third pic is of the ‘left-hand two boards. hope that helps.

Now that Wdwerker has guessed, I do recall the the guy I bought it from mentioned red birch… is that what birch looks like with all the grain and such? I’ve never worked with birch lumber, only plywood and it does not really look or feel like birch ply…

Dallas, doesn’t Elm have a pretty distinct odor? This wood has virtually no odor, even when being planed which I thought unusual.

BentheViking and Willardz, it’s not Hickory or Cherry, I’m familiar with both of those and this is not like those. It’s not hard enough to be Hickory, I have some left over Hickory flooring and that is some hard wood! It does resemble the coloring of hickory a little tho. Cherry certainly has a unique feel to it so I know it’s not Cherry either.

Thanks again,
Bill C.

View ShaneA's profile


7064 posts in 2838 days

#8 posted 12-30-2012 04:49 AM

Looks like Birch, it has a lot of color and grain variation, takes on many appearances.

View Willeh's profile


228 posts in 2579 days

#9 posted 12-30-2012 05:56 AM

I’d say two of those boards are cherry… bottom pic, the two on the left..

-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 2538 days

#10 posted 12-30-2012 07:57 AM

ash ash ash thats my guess

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2716 days

#11 posted 12-30-2012 01:23 PM

It is birch in my opinion. Most times the color code on end of the board is a length designation.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Dusty56's profile


11830 posts in 3928 days

#12 posted 12-30-2012 03:27 PM

This is made from just one piece of Birch about 1&1/4” wide , cut to length and glued back together. Talk about grain and color variations : ) This is why I love Birch so much !!

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

View BCurrent's profile


14 posts in 2885 days

#13 posted 12-30-2012 03:38 PM

Thanks all, I think the verdict is in and we’ll call them birch. I believe the two on the right are more of the ‘red birch’ if there is such a thing… while the other 2 are regular birch.

Wow Dusty56, that is a beautiful piece… whatever it is! Maybe a seat or ?? I believe it to be very similar to my wood in that a lot of mine has that ‘shine’ to it, though you can’t really see it in the pictures. Guess that’s what I was trying to say when I mentioned the ‘curl’.

I’d like to thank everyone who chimed in to help solve my mystery, now I can move forward with some confidence that I’m not using some weird wood!

Bill C.

View Dusty56's profile


11830 posts in 3928 days

#14 posted 12-30-2012 03:44 PM

BC , here is my project link. It is a lazy Susan that I made for a friend. You can’t see the base in the photos. : )

ps.The “curl” is known as Flame Birch : )

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

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2473 days

#15 posted 12-30-2012 04:33 PM

The difference is probably sapwood vs heart wood. Middle of the tree wood gets darker, newer wood is lighter.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

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