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Thread: Need Help Identifying Wood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Need Help Identifying Wood

    I'm refinishing an old dinning room/entertainment set that we purchased probably 30 years ago. I want to add a couple end cabinets to it so would like to ID the wood so I can purchase the same. I took a couple pictures of the underside of a table leaf one dry and one wet. I also took a USB microscope pic of the end grain of the wood. Pulled out my "Understanding Wood" book and it's still hard to tell but almost look like elm? I also included dry and wet pics of the bottom of a table leaf. I measured the wood density from a piece off the leaf and it's 41.3#/ft3 (661 kg/m3).





  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Schenectady, NY
    Not an expert here but I know a little about Elm. I've worked with it quite a bit. Elm has more of a ring porous pattern than what this endgrain shows. This looks more diffuse porous. Flatsawn Elm can have a rather coarse texture in the early wood. It also has an interlocked grain which exhibits a zig-zag pattern across the endgrain especially when cut at a slight angle. Very evident in turned bowls. For a 30+ years old table top I would doubt the a commercial furniture manufacturer would use an unusual production wood such as Elm. My guess would more likely be something like Maple, Birch, Alder. If it's an import all bets are off.
    Happy and Safe Turning, Don

    Woodturners make the world go ROUND!

  3. #3
    Elm almost looks like a tropical hardwood compared to most domestic wood. It can be very pretty, but it is a %$@# to work with and can be unstable, which has tended to restrict its uses to B grade firewood, wooden warships, and food for Dutch Elm beetles.

    If it is domestic, I'd say birch if I was forced to pick one, but soft maple, alder, even some oddballs like aspen, linden, or cottonwood are possible too.

    If you stain them the same color, it probably doesn't matter if you get the species exactly the same (test this first obviously). Most of those light hardwoods look the same to an untrained eye, and even a trained eye often won't notice unless they are consciously looking. I unintentionally made one leg out of birch for my maple workbench. Never noticed it until years later.

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