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learning types of woods

1295 Views 11 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  dustbunny
Hello all,
I am reletively new to woodworking and wated to know the best way to learnthe various types of woods. there is so much out there any help would be appreciated
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One good way is to decide what it is you want to build then post the question of what wood to use on this forum. Or choose a wood and ask what everyone thinks. Another way is if you have a good hardwood store near you just go in and check out what they have and ask the salesman about them and their uses, shortcomings and strengths. Often you will find the price can dictate what you use.

I just Googled, "types of wood" and came up with pages of web sites to read from.
I think the best way to learn what different woods look like is to actually look at different woods regularly. This may involve going to a hardwood lumber company, Rockler, Woodcraft, etc., and walking through their stock and get a visual of what the woods look like. I had tried to read books, look at pamphlets etc, but nothing seemed to work better than just doing my studying at a lumber company.

It also helps to build something with various lumbers and then you tend to remember its characteristics.

I have a really gross joke that would fit perfectly here, but I better not… :)
Welcome to Lumberjocks!

I think googling might be overwhelming…

instead, what I found to be of most value is what Wayne suggests - go to a lumber yard, and walk around - see, touch, smell, feel the types of lumber they have there.. this will give you so much more understanding than google in this case.

feel the weight differences, texture differences, and hardness of the different species available…

then , choose one, and try to work a project with it… this will teach you the working characteristic of that wood… then choose another for the next project… this will teach you the differences of working with different types of lumber, and might help you understand what to look for, for each particular project.
Check this out . I bought something similar years ago, and have found it to be a great resource, if you're willing to spend the money

There is also a very good book I have too. It's at home so I'll have to get you that info later.
Keep checking out the projects here and ask "what kind of wood is that" if I don't beat you to it. I have picked up tons of info in a short while and recently bought some wood I never thought I would buy… Or even heard of!

The knowledge tidbits are precious. In a very recent post I saw one LJ say how he hates to work with red oak because it splinters. Another said he loves it because it makes great straight edges. Lots of info to synthesize and test.
While there is no substitute for actually holding/seeing and feeling the real thing…here is a web site that shows pics of several different types of exotics.

Some already have pictures…others just click on the name and the pic will show up. The ones that already have pics…still click on them and it will show different parts of the wood, end grain, burl…stained, not stained etc etc etc.
I agree with all of the above
I say what Jim says:)) I'd start with the basic ones available to you locally and work up from there. Looking at pics on the web isn't anything like feeling the real deal.
Thanks JJ…...I said that link only shows exotics…it actually shows just about any wood you can think of…from A to Z
This is the wood reference I use. It has nice descriptions and specific gravity of exotics, and if you wish you can order from them.

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