Help me identify wood.

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Forum topic by IowaWoodcrafter posted 11-19-2007 04:11 AM 1482 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4553 days

11-19-2007 04:11 AM

I need help identifying the wood attached to this topic. All of the wood was milled from a single piece. I have a bunch of this stuff that someone gave me. I think it’s spalted soft maple but I’m not sure. I can’t really decide what to do with it. I was going to try and use it to make bookshelves but that’s out with the black streaks. I might use it to make some unique gifts. (One picture is with the flash on and the other is with it off).

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

11 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4351 days

#1 posted 11-19-2007 05:21 AM

Looks like spalted maple to me. There’s a way to tell if it’s soft or hard maple … something you can put on the wood that turns soft maple a different color. Without that, I’d guess this is soft maple because of the grey undertone. I’m sure some other guys on here are better at identifying than I am!

-- -- --

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4439 days

#2 posted 11-19-2007 05:30 AM

spalted maple. If you don’t want it where can I pick it up?

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35197 posts in 4877 days

#3 posted 11-19-2007 05:36 AM

I agree Spalted maple is not for everyone. I made some drawer fronts for my wife’s kitchen and sh didn’t like them. So I made walnut instead.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4776 days

#4 posted 11-19-2007 05:42 PM

It looks like it would be nice for boxes, or decorative birdhouses. Click on birdhouse tag to see some.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4049 posts in 4541 days

#5 posted 11-20-2007 05:58 AM

CharlieM1959 and I will take what you don’t give Tom. This stuff makes my heart race. Just remember to wear a dustmask when working it. It can cause some very nasty lung disease. Oh, and Iowa- I’m only just one state over.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4474 days

#6 posted 11-20-2007 07:31 AM

I agree with the others…but who really knows? Would need closer shots of the long and end grain…

There have been some good wood id blogs or forums around here I recall…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4482 days

#7 posted 11-20-2007 11:08 AM

Visual is just one way to identify wood. To really assess wood i personally have to hold a piece to get a sense of its density and preferably cut into it to smell it. You grab a board of Maple and you know right away whether its hard or soft Maple!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Andy's profile


1711 posts in 4385 days

#8 posted 11-20-2007 02:46 PM

I agree with the others,looks like spalted Maple (Western,Big Leaf) but could also be Alder or Birch.Regardless it would make nice boxes or preferably to me,nice tops for boxes,and use a simple grained wood like Eastern Maple for the body.

One of the frustrations with spalted woods is the fact that they can be fairly well in to the decay stage and it is common to find rot and soft punky material in with the colors and ink lines that are desireable.Very difficult to work with.The best wood is when you get marbled coloring and/or fine caligraphy lines in solid wood.They resemble paintings, or Chinese writing,or Old World maps.Those are the most prized pieces.To the right person (me) they are worth more than Amboyna orThuga Burl. We get this fairly regularly out here in Oregon, but the wood with the fine ink lines goes so fast you seldom get a chance to buy any.It starts out at $15.00 b.ft and goes way up from there.

If you decide not to use it,consider putting it on Ebay.It will sell.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

549 posts in 4367 days

#9 posted 11-20-2007 03:32 PM

I think the BEST free index of wood species with good pictures is found here.

I’ve spent hours getting to know about wood that I didn’t dream existed. God is good to give us all that wood!
I’m a poet and did not know it….. LOL

This web site as of Mid August 2007 has over 17,000 pictures of over 680 species of wood….WOW!!! I saved this page as a Complete HTML web page on my hard drive so I don’t have to wait so long for all the pics to load—I’d suggest the same for anyone who likes the site.

THIS is the page dedicated to spalted maple on that site.

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4474 days

#10 posted 11-21-2007 04:35 AM

I agree that visual id is only one – less than perfect – way to id wood. The ideal way is to analyze the cellular structure on the end grain. See Bruce Hoadley’s texts for more info…

Andy, et al. – We’ll be milling up some spalted maple tomorrow – can’t wait to see what we get!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4049 posts in 4541 days

#11 posted 11-21-2007 05:41 PM

Frank has posted this resource for wood ID. Very thorough. Also like a Sears Wish Book (Christmas Catalogue) for wood folk.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

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