Mystery Wood

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Project by thewoodworker01 posted 06-28-2014 04:54 PM 2460 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello LumberJocks, sorry this isn’t a finished project, but its a project alright! I’m helping a buddy out in my woodshop and he brought over some lumber he got off of an old barn, they were rafters. I have yet to figure out what the kind of wood this is (in the first 3 pictures, its the board on the left) and was wondering if anyone here would be able to help me? The board on the right in, those 3 pictures, is red oak. These boards have the grain of oak and the smell, but not the color. It almost looks like black oak, but I have yet to find any pictures of it on Google. It is not walnut, and I do not believe it is mineral stained (like if it was a sinker log in the bottom of a creek). The sap wood looks like white oak, but on the edges of some of the boards you can see remains of bark. I have a little less than 10 of these boards like this. The color and grain patterns range in the pile. If anyone could help me out that’d be great!

UPDATE: I have since added a picture of the endgrain, and it is dark as well, but the sap wood is white like white oak. Also if you look close, you can see the white pigment similar to what is in white oak. I do not have all the boards on hand, this is the closest I can get to one right now, so unfortunately this one does not have the sap wood in it, or the curvature of the darkness following the end grain. These boards have been milled with my machines. None of my blades are dull enough to cause that much burning.

UPDATE 2: Well its no longer a mystery wood! I was talking to a local sawmill and they said that it was white oak. Apparently white oak turns dark the older the tree gets. He said that the only difference between black oak and red oak is the bark. When a red oak tree is a sapling, its bark is smooth; but when a black oak tree is a sapling, its bark is rough. He said there is nothing black about black oak, its coloring is red.

Thanks Christian

Thanks, Christian.

-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

12 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24777 posts in 3874 days

#1 posted 06-28-2014 05:33 PM

Red oak!.........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View wiswood2's profile


1138 posts in 4465 days

#2 posted 06-28-2014 05:43 PM

No doubt

-- Chuck, wiswood2

View KnotCurser's profile


2034 posts in 3837 days

#3 posted 06-28-2014 06:19 PM

Weathered red oak – Jim and Chuck are correct.

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View JT23325's profile


168 posts in 2916 days

#4 posted 06-28-2014 06:31 PM

Red Oak… which also has a very unique scent..

-- Jeff, Ability will never catch up with the demand for it. - Malcolm Forbes

View bondogaposis's profile


5783 posts in 3120 days

#5 posted 06-28-2014 06:56 PM

It would be really helpful to have end grain shots, as well as know what part of the country the barn was in, as most old barns were made from local woods. I’ll go w/ the others and say weathered red oak unless an end grain picture says otherwise.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2318 days

#6 posted 06-29-2014 01:48 AM

How is the hardness and weight compared to the known red oak piece? Looks like weathered white oak to me. That wood would be more common in barns, here anyway.

View bondogaposis's profile


5783 posts in 3120 days

#7 posted 06-29-2014 04:54 AM

I’m still thinking oak, the end grain shot is not close up enough to tell whether it has tyloses or not. White oak has ‘em and red oak don’t. White sap wood is common to both types of oaks. The weather checks around the nail holes is the give away that the left board has been exposed to the elements and would explain the color difference.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Firewood's profile


1213 posts in 2403 days

#8 posted 06-29-2014 12:38 PM

If the barn was used for livestock could it be this board is naturally fumed from years of exposure to ammonia?

-- Mike - Waukesha, WI

View sawmillman's profile


27 posts in 2235 days

#9 posted 06-29-2014 01:56 PM

I have run a small sawmill as a hobby for several years now in Southern Illinois sawing just about every hardwood species native to this area. I agree it could be a species of oak but I will go out on a limb and suggest it might be Black Locust. I would have to see the board in person or perhaps a really zoomed in photo to say for sure. Just saying.

-- I thought you said there was no metal in this log !!!!!!!!!!!!

View geekwoodworker's profile


378 posts in 2229 days

#10 posted 06-29-2014 08:18 PM

Its all garbage. I will come and dispose of it for you.
Definately looks like red Oak to me. Get as much as you can and store it for future projects.

View hookfoot's profile


380 posts in 2718 days

#11 posted 06-30-2014 12:20 AM

Cut a small sample of your mystry wood on the quarter. That should tell you if it is red oak or white oak by the fleck that is in quarter sawn white oak.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3196 days

#12 posted 06-30-2014 02:43 AM

The end grain looks like locust to me.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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