Identifying Wood

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Forum topic by Eac67gt posted 04-20-2017 12:34 PM 690 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 1025 days

04-20-2017 12:34 PM

Hi Everyone,
I’m looking for suggestions on a book or books on identifying woods.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

-- I Forgot Way More Than I Ever Knew

8 replies so far

View pontic's profile


722 posts in 1217 days

#1 posted 04-20-2017 12:38 PM

Leaf, Bark and Grain patterns. That’s what I would think.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View firefighterontheside's profile


20749 posts in 2465 days

#2 posted 04-20-2017 12:46 PM

This one has good reviews, but I have not bought it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1256 days

#3 posted 04-20-2017 01:02 PM

I agree with Bill … Herbert Edlin’s What Wood is That?  is awesome. I have a first edition and refer to it often.

View Rich's profile


5147 posts in 1198 days

#4 posted 04-20-2017 08:16 PM

The Wood Database is an online encyclopedia of woods, and he published a book as well.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View shipwright's profile


8453 posts in 3406 days

#5 posted 04-21-2017 04:34 PM

Books and the internet are great resources for wood identification but you can’t beat “in person”.
To that end you might consider one of the sample veneer sets sold by many veneer suppliers.
Like this one….
or if you want the deluxe set, this one ….

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View onoitsmatt's profile


439 posts in 1784 days

#6 posted 04-21-2017 04:47 PM

I’ve been known to go to the local wood supplier and just look, feel and smell the wood and what is different about each. I’m still not great at identifying wood but getting better and better at it. Different species have unique smells that you have to experience in person. Weight/density is another factor that can help that you kind of need to experience first hand.

-- Matt - Phoenix, AZ

View Eac67gt's profile


12 posts in 1025 days

#7 posted 04-22-2017 12:15 AM

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for everyone’s input. I have tried the internet but sometimes it is hard to match things up. Also the books will probably be the same sort of issue. Bottom line is all these are great ideas and I will use both but I guess more important is time and learning through use to identify these woods. I had bought a piece of African Mahogany from Rockler’s and also bought one of their assortment boxes. There was two large blocks in there that had that kind of red tint the mahogany has. The thing was it looked somewhat different. The “pits” in the piece I bought as African Mahogany were not evident in the blocks with the assortment. I took pics and asked Rockler. They said it is the variations within the species but was indeed African Mahogany.
I guess my point in this is being a newbie to this hobby there is a lot to learn in identifying these woods.
Having forums like this are a great tool and the people that use them also.
Thanks again!

-- I Forgot Way More Than I Ever Knew

View ocean's profile


196 posts in 1442 days

#8 posted 04-22-2017 02:03 AM

“What Wood Is This” is a great book and it has samples of the wood species as Ron said. Online you can find color corrected photos of many species at . Also a great site. Funny you should start with mahogany as it has so much variation within all the species referred to as mahogany. Lets see maybe at least 10-15 species referred to as mahogany world wide. Try starting with one of two true species of the Caribbean/Central America – Swientenia mahagoni (West Indian) or Swietenia macrophylla (Honduran). I have several of both growing my back yard and I can tell from just these two species there is a wide color difference to the wood from tree to tree. Truly if you like the color and grain of any wood species it really doesn’t make any difference, it really is how easy or hard it is to work with. I know that identification is not always easy, so all I can say is good luck with some of these sources.

-- Bob, FL Keys

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