Wood IDs

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Blog series by Gary Fixler updated 07-15-2009 11:41 PM 16 parts 99751 reads 98 comments total

Part 1: 2 species of branches found in my green waste bin - what are they?

03-08-2009 09:26 PM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

I’ve had quite a weekend here in LA with the free wood gathering. It’s laughable to you folks on farms, or out in the deep woods with harvestable lumber all around you, but here, we have to beg for our scraps, or put down hard earned cash at the stores :) Thursday night after work, I came home to find the green plant-matter bin out by the road, indicating the gardeners had been by (landlady pays for them 2x/mo). Unusually, however, were limbs sticking out of it. I only have a f...

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Part 2: A look inside the second mystery branch

03-09-2009 12:17 PM by Gary Fixler | 2 comments »

It would seem Rob (user: socalwood) nailed another species down for me in my previous post – the Pride of Madeira – going off nothing more than one gnarled limb (which turned out to be the whole trunk and some branches of a small plant) and some withering leaves. Great job, Rob! I looked a bit more into one of the few branches of the second mystery species, and found a yellowy, eccentrically-ringed wood that seems to love to split along its length down its ring and ray lines. I...

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Part 3: Another found ornamental tree, with a mystery hole

03-17-2009 12:51 AM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

More trash pick… I mean, recycling this past Thursday night. Someone in the neighborhood threw out what in the dark after work seemed like it might be plastic, but back in my garage turned out to be something with the texture, and a bit of the overall look of a plum, with smooth brown skin that seemed to have a purplish cast to it. I think it’s either a whole small tree, or the top of a very tall larger tree, as it doesn’t seem to branch in the way a branch would. It̵...

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Part 4: mystery ornamental branch identified

03-18-2009 04:12 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

After some online snooping, it looks like the branch I found the other day is of the Juglandaceae Family, which is to say it’s a walnut. Here’s some evidence… The chambers in the middle, seen here in my sample comprise what is known as a “chambered pith” (a pith being the center of a tree/branch/twig). Here's how it happens (in elaborate, if brief science talk). When it comes to chambered piths, it seems the only two choices spoken of online are black walnut (...

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Part 5: Mystery fallen tree in LA - my biggest haul yet

03-23-2009 12:34 PM by Gary Fixler | 14 comments »

I was putting in the rafters on my shed roof today, when while taking a break I noticed a message on my machine from a friend. He had spotted a fallen tree, which didn’t make it through today’s heavy wind storms here in LA. I grabbed my Irwin carpenter saw – the best hand saw I’ve used so far for wet logs (I’ve tried 3 now) – and headed out in my inadequate hatchback. It’s getting traded in for a truck soon, hooray. This was the pile I found: ...

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Part 6: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 1 of 3

03-24-2009 12:49 PM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

I went out for a walk from work late in the day last week sometime, through a neighborhood I’d not explored. At its end, I encountered a fallen gum tree, and as probably seems the right response to many in here, was overcome with joy. It had obviously been down for a while. These LA people sure don’t understand what treasure there is to be had in their trash. I determined to come back for it at night… sometime. Uncharacteristically for timid ol’ me, I went back...

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Part 7: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 2 of 3

03-25-2009 08:13 AM by Gary Fixler | 5 comments »

In part 1, I found a Euc in an LA neighborhood, went back under cover of ninja darkness around midnight, spent 3 hours cutting it up and hauling it home in 2 trips, and detailed what I ended up with. In this part, I cut up some of the bigger logs, look under the bark a bit more, and brush away boring bug excrement to reveal some more beautiful patterning underneath. The trails seen here are caused by Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae, several of which I found while digging under the bark,...

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Part 8: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 3 of 3

03-28-2009 01:01 PM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

In part 1 I found a Eucalyptus tree in a nearby neighborhood. In part 2 I cut it up and had a better look under the bark, finding great boring bug patterns. In part 3, I finally took a 3” diameter piece of the green wood and had a go at it on my Sherline 4400 CNC mini lathe, set up as a manual wood lathe. I’m quite ‘green’ myself at this turning business, and don’t yet have many techniques, experience, and tools necessary, but it came out alright, was a lot of...

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Part 9: Sealing up the mystery tree (probably California Bay Laurel)

03-29-2009 08:38 PM by Gary Fixler | 3 comments »

You folks helped me to ID this as probably a California Bay Laurel, blown down a pretty strong wind storm a week ago. I’m still going to research it, but for now, it needed to be sealed up against the checking that had already begun. I wanted some good pics of the cross sections before they get their coat of sealer. I have 2 gallons of Anchorseal in shipment now from the source, and I’m wondering if I should have gotten the 5gal bucket. Meanwhile, last week I picked up 2 quarts of...

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Part 10: Found limb - Bottlebrush

04-03-2009 01:51 AM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

This branch, found a week ago now, was a mystery for awhile, but then I accidentally identified it while looking up something about paperbark trees, which are in some ways related. Callistemon, or Bottlebrush Trees, in the Myrtaceae family, are – like many LA trees – native to Australia. My coworker and officemate, who knows about my log and tree-collecting shenanigans told me one morning that the city had roped off a big branch that had fallen. He saw it on his drive in to work. ...

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Part 11: Paperbark branches

04-14-2009 02:21 PM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

A couple weeks ago I passed some tree trimmers cutting up a handful of paperbark trees (Melaleuca quinquenervia). I passed a few times on lunchtime errands, and finally decided to stop and ask for some free wood. I’ve been so curious for 5 years now about what’s underneath the spongy, peeling bark of these trees. You can punch the trunks and leave a deep imprint of your hand, which swells back up eventually, hiding the dent. It doesn’t hurt, because they feel like a s...

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Part 12: Not a California Bay Laurel after all...

04-20-2009 09:49 AM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

Previous blog entries on this tree: Wood IDs #5: Mystery fallen tree in LA - my biggest haul yetWood IDs #9: Sealing up the mystery tree I found a really great site out of Canada for help in identifying plants and trees. It seems a place where horticulturalists, botanists, dendrologists, and maybe even scientists hang out and share things about plants and trees: UBC Botanical Garden. And they have a forum specifically for plant and tree IDs! In this thread I got my answer. It’s...

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Part 13: Hollywood Junipers heavily trimmed = probably a lot of pen blanks

05-05-2009 12:24 PM by Gary Fixler | 5 comments »

Wow, it’s been a busy month. These are from a month and 2 days ago. My landlady stopped by to check things out, and decided the Hollywood Junipers (Juniperus chinensis) needed trimming. Here’s how they looked, during a day when I was drying out my tarp, and realizing it was the same size as my tiny back yard: That was 3 months before they were trimmed. They had grown in a lot more in that time. I had cut down a limb last year so I’d have room for a wood storage shed, ...

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Part 14: Figured out what kind of Eucalyptus it was that I found

05-31-2009 04:08 AM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

It’s a #2 phillips, based on the seed pods. In other news, I stuck all the old sets of the tree find and subsequent handlings (ongoing) into a collection here. I also went through and rotated some that were on their sides, added descriptions to some missing them, and finally made everything public, as I’d forgotten to on several, like these: That’s from May 4th, and shows significant shrinkage of the euc cup. It had been turned and sanded flush with the lat...

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Part 15: African Blackwood and conservation

06-26-2009 03:12 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

I picked up another box of 20 exotic wood turning blanks from Rockler. It’s been on a big sale for a long while now, and I had free shipping going, too. I have an idea for possibly turning it into some saleable items, and running the numbers, it was a very good deal. One of the woods it includes, of which I have now 4 1.5”×1.5”×12” pieces is African Blackwood. The tree, – Dalbergia melanoxylon, found primarily in Tanzania and Mozambique, though native to, and ...

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Part 16: The American Woods - 350 N. American species specimens

07-15-2009 11:41 PM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

I just tumbled into a fantastic vat of info hosted by the Special Collections Research Center of the NCSU Libraries. ”Radial, tangential, and cross-sections of 350 North American woods from the 14-volume rare book The American Woods, published between 1888 and 1910 by the author, Romeyn Beck Hough. The images can be accessed by volume number or by the scientific or common name of each tree.” The 600DPI i...

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