Another Question About Wood Species

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Forum topic by Chris Speights posted 12-17-2012 02:51 PM 1466 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Speights

129 posts in 3269 days

12-17-2012 02:51 PM

This isn’t a great picture, but I figure I could explain this wood well enough that someone can probably answer.

So, the board on the left is some cherry. The board on the right is, well, that’s what I am asking. It has profound grain, similar to oak. It’s the color of cherry (maybe a little more orange). It has an odd sheen to it, sort of “sparkly” and when I cut it, it smells like rubbing alcohol. It’s not very dense/heavy, but it’s not “soft”. I happen to have quite a bit of this stuff, so would like to figure out what it is. As always, any help is greatly appreciated.


13 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3398 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 03:28 PM

It looks like Bur oak from here, but I can’t see it well enough to tell.
Bur oak often has an astringent odor depending on how it was fed when growing.

I would take a chunk to your local extension agent or down to the local university and see if they will identify it for you.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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Chris Speights

129 posts in 3269 days

#2 posted 12-17-2012 03:42 PM

I looked at some images of bur oak, but didn’t see any that really looks like this piece. The bur oak images I saw seemed to suggest a lot of curl in the grain. This is all very straight grained.

But, I didn’t know there was somewhere I could take the wood to be identified. I will look into it and see if I can find somewhere local.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3762 days

#3 posted 12-17-2012 03:55 PM

Dallas, go here and at the bottom of the page choose M and scroll down into the mahoganies and check them out. This is a wonderful site if you have questions like this.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View a1Jim's profile


118143 posts in 4488 days

#4 posted 12-17-2012 04:05 PM

I second Lee’s guess.


View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

129 posts in 3269 days

#5 posted 12-17-2012 04:08 PM

It does somewhat resemble cuban mahogany. At least the physical characteristics. But, I cannot find anything about the “smell” of cuban mahogany.

This smell wouldn’t be forgotten by anyone. I made a box out of whatever this is. By the time I was done cutting the pieces, my garage smelled like a barber shop…haha.

The only thing I have found about any wood that smells like rubbing alcohol is sandalwood, but most of the pictures of the sandalwood don’t look too much like this…so, I am completely at a loss.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3921 days

#6 posted 12-17-2012 04:48 PM

I would guess African mahogany. There are lots of different species that fall under this label, most notably Khaya. I just got a bunch that is particularly fragrant. I wouldn’t exactly call it rubbing alcohol, but I could see how another person might.

If only there was a way to transmit smell over the interweb!

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4070 days

#7 posted 12-17-2012 05:34 PM

Look like a mahogany variant, even similar to Spanish cedar (a cousin of mahogany). If the smell you describe smells like a cigar box, then you’ll know.

-- jay,

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3398 days

#8 posted 12-17-2012 05:52 PM

Thanks Lee, I’ve been there before and it’s in my favorites.

I’m basing my uninformed guess on several criteria:

He’s in East Central Texas, the home of a lot of Bur, Post, Pin and White oak.

It has that Alcohol astringent smell of oak laying for awhile before processing.

I have a pile of Bur oak here and it’s pretty similar if flat sawn.

However, I would still take it to the local extension agent or one of the local universities to get a proper ID.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6231 posts in 3725 days

#9 posted 12-17-2012 06:43 PM

Mohogany is an open grain wood like oak, but has its own color. Wipe some poly on it. Mohogany gets a warm red-brown color to it under a clear finish.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View darinS's profile


719 posts in 3779 days

#10 posted 12-17-2012 06:59 PM

This might give you a little more information.

They go through a number of different characteristics.

-- Rule 7 - Always be specific when you lie

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3387 days

#11 posted 12-18-2012 03:39 AM

It definitely looks tropical with that grain pattern. I know the native woods well, but I don’t mess with the tropical stuff. My first thought was a type of mahogany or related species.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Dusty56's profile


11861 posts in 4599 days

#12 posted 12-18-2012 03:58 AM

First glance appears to be a Mahogany variety , but your photo doesn’t really even show the Cherry that well.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

129 posts in 3269 days

#13 posted 12-18-2012 01:29 PM

I ran by the hardwood lumber store yesterday to pick up some walnut. I took a piece of this wood with me. The guy confirms it is African or Cuban Mahogany. He couldn’t explain the rubbing alcohol smell, though. I am a little embarassed for not knowing this, haha…but, at least I am learning.

What is it, “the only dumb questions are the ones you don’t ask”? haha…

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