Motherload of free wood, need help identifying and ideas for working with it

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by hypnos posted 03-01-2010 04:47 PM 2006 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View hypnos's profile


28 posts in 3916 days

03-01-2010 04:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood identification milling rough lumber

I got this wood from my wife’s step-mom, she was having her neighbor store it in his garage otherwise I would have known about it sooner. It came some years ago from another neighbor she was friends with, a woodworker who passed away. She doesn’t know what kind it is, and my only guess is some sort of red maple maybe? It seems like that’s quite a lot of heartwood for maple though, but most of it is pretty hard and heavy and feels really tight grained when planed like it…

There’s 11 or more boards, most of them at least 10’ long and all are an inch to 1 1/8” thick

I brought it home in my wife’s not-minivan (Mazda5 – seats 4 kids in the back and hauls lumber: @28mpg)

It’s definitely all from the same tree

I ran one of the few shorter pieces through my planer a few times and squared 2 edges – this isn’t the prettiest piece but it gives you an idea. The planer wasn’t happy about taking a board that was hard and not face jointed, it definitely got bogged down near that knot.

Here’s a link to the whole album with a few more pictures and the ability to zoom in to view it closer

I’m looking for advice milling rough lumber like this, advice on cleaning it up and getting the most out of it. Only a few ends of the boards are over 13 inches wide, I plan on building an 8’ long planer sled that should allow me to get one face flat. I’d like to avoid ripping these boards down too much, esp. not knowing what all I’m going to do with them yet.

Thanks for any advice or help identifying!

-- David P., Kansas City

23 replies so far

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 03-01-2010 05:02 PM

Any aroma to the wood? Kinda looks like walnut.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View patron's profile


13649 posts in 3818 days

#2 posted 03-01-2010 05:09 PM

you could take it to a shop with a wide belt sander ,
for some $ they can clean it up for you ,
to any grit you like .

no ripout ,
no abuse to your planer .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View HenryH's profile


139 posts in 3881 days

#3 posted 03-01-2010 05:16 PM

Looks like walnut. Nice score.

-- HenryH - PA

View hypnos's profile


28 posts in 3916 days

#4 posted 03-01-2010 05:32 PM

Nothing unusual with the aroma, but I haven’t worked with too many types of wood. Looking at the hobbithouse I do see some similarities with the English or European walnut, I never would have guessed that because I’ve never seen walnut with so much white and red coloring, could be though.
David – I do vaguely know someone who works at some sort of cabinet shop, I could start there I guess. That would take a lot of the work out of it and not add too much to the cost of free…
How much is a reasonable charge for belt/drum sanding service on this amount of wood?

-- David P., Kansas City

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3675 days

#5 posted 03-01-2010 05:45 PM

I think it looks like cherry, not dark enough for walnut. Beatiful grain.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View hypnos's profile


28 posts in 3916 days

#6 posted 03-01-2010 06:07 PM

Cherry seems like a possibility, the bark could be black cherry or walnut. I found out that most walnut sold is steamed to bring out the darker colors, I guess that’s what I’m used to seeing at the stores. I’m reading up on how to conceal sapwood whatever it is, FWW has a nice article on it, but hopefully I can use some of the sapwood more naturally and do some book-matching.

-- David P., Kansas City

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3643 days

#7 posted 03-01-2010 06:29 PM

$60 per hour to have wood sanded in my area.
Looks like Cherry to me.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View Cher's profile


962 posts in 3570 days

#8 posted 03-01-2010 06:40 PM

Hypnos, that is a nice find. David has given good advice as he always does. Considering you were given all that wood it is worth it to pay to have it cleaned up.

-- When you know better you do better.

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

720 posts in 4095 days

#9 posted 03-01-2010 07:00 PM

Birch or Cherry…but probably Birch

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View alaskan79's profile


74 posts in 3830 days

#10 posted 03-01-2010 07:23 PM

I would lean to Black Birch but not rule out Cherry. Cherry has a light colored sapwood.


-- alaskan79, Michigan

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3551 days

#11 posted 03-01-2010 08:01 PM

Based on pictures 3, 4, 6 and 7 I’m thinking cherry. Pictures 1 and 2 don’t tell me much and picture 5 looks like walnut. Perhaps a relevant question is what kind of wood is common in your area.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View hypnos's profile


28 posts in 3916 days

#12 posted 03-01-2010 08:27 PM

The second picture shows some bark and I think that rules out birch… In the third picture the shorter board in the middle is the same one as all the pictures below that, you can see how much lighter the sapwood looks after going through the planer – maybe there was some exposure to sunlight darkening it over the years which makes cherry more likely…
Both black cherry and walnut are common in Missouri.
If I find a shop to sand it – does it matter belt sander vs drum? I forget – will they both parallel the two sides or does it still have to get ran through a wide jointer?

Thanks for all the help everybody!

-- David P., Kansas City

View patron's profile


13649 posts in 3818 days

#13 posted 03-01-2010 08:55 PM

the sanding is just like a planer ,
just not chipping it .
parallel is the result.

realy the best way ,
and you can see all the grain ,
not just the aged or rough stuff .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Earlb's profile


52 posts in 3495 days

#14 posted 03-01-2010 09:01 PM

there is a jig back a ways in the projects that would probably help. it used pipe and plywood to build a router sled that rides on angle iron to flatten slabs.turns your router into a surface planer sortof.

-- It is all in your perspective.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3723 days

#15 posted 03-01-2010 09:58 PM

If you expose some new wood and put in the sun a few days that might tell you something. Cherry gets darker in sunlight. Just need some bright sunshine now : )

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics