A list of woods

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Rick Prosser, May 5, 2009.

  1. Rick Prosser

    Rick Prosser

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    As a new turner, I am finding a fair amount of free wood locally, but I don't know a lot about the different types. Is there a consolidated list of domestic trees/wood that gives basic info that turners would be interested in?

    I don't need scientific names, specific gravity, etc - but would like to know things like turns easy, hard as rock, large pores, splits easily, not worth the effort, etc.

    As a for instance, I have lots of sparkleberry around, but it splits like crazy but dries hard a nails. Not a good choice for a newbie turner to try out. I also have some wild cherry that seems to turn nice when green, and dries well - a good choice for newbie.
     
  2. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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    A consolidated "list," filtered by specific properties, will be hard to find.

    Some in my "collection" include "Hardwoods of North America" and "Softwoods," ditto; and "The Wood Handbook." These are all pdf files from USDA Forest Service, General Technical Reports, found online. The files may be searchable for particular qualities, but keywords must be chosen carefully - after all, computers may be quick "thinkers," but they're kinda stupid otherwise.

    A real book, that I consult occasionally, is "Identifying Wood," ISBN 0-7858-0777-2, about 80 pages, with illustrations and sections on Workability. Specific attention is given to rainforest preservation.

    Somewhere here on the forum, are some URLs for Tips and Links, which might be more useful. Try a Search for [tips OR links].

    Beyond that, Google is your friend, e.g. [woodturning sparkleberry]. Google isn't too fussy about spelling errors.
     
  3. Dick Sowa

    Dick Sowa

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    http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/index.htm
    That site doesn't tell you everything you asked about a particular wood's working properties, but it does give you more than just about anywhere else. Their claim to fame is "accurate" color representation of most wood species, with thousands of wood photos.
     
  4. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards

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    I know you would like a nice neat authoritative list but the truth is "it depends"
    It depends on your local and the intended use. Some hard woods aren't well suited to all applications. Thread chasing comes immediately to mind. I have seen some beautiful Pine lamps but I wouldn't want to attempt a Pine hollow form. This is where trial and error along with experience is going to be your best teacher. That and a little common sense.
     
  5. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    It might be better to speak of what you can readily get.

    In the beginning, all free wood is good. Then you may gravitate towards some that have specific properties that work for your style or situation.
     
  6. Aaron G+11

    Aaron G+11

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    You should be able to turn any wood as long as it's name does not start with the word, "poison". You will have many who will say that you can not turn this or that. Horse Pucky! Turn what you have. Turn and find out what you are willing to do to get what you want. You may develop a particular look due to your materials as much as your shapes. As mentioned free wood is generally the best when starting out, and pretty good for when you have been turning for a while too. At this stage it is more important to turn than what you turn.

    enjoy,
     
  7. Jock Manuka

    Jock Manuka

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    Given his inacuracy about New Zealand native trees , it might pay to double check on this guys information regarding the trees / wood that you know about .
    I have , about some of the New Zealand trees .

    Some of his stuff is ok , some is sketchy , and at least one is plain wrong.

    The Kiwi tree does not exist ...... anywhere in the world .


    cheers ,
    Jock
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  8. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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    I just took my own advice, and Googled [woodturning sparkleberry]. The first hit was this very thread. So take everything on the Internet with a grain of salt. I did, however, get a few hits for sparkleberry pen blanks, so you might consider that application, or use it for practice on small turnings.

    Jock brings up a good point about nomenclature, though. Many species have "local" names, sometimes applied willy-nilly. There are about 400 real species of oak worldwide, for example. And some folks might call any wood from New Zealand "kiwi." "Mahogany" is pretty well misused, too.

    Joe
     
  9. Rick Prosser

    Rick Prosser

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    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I left the question too broad...:D

    For practice wood - I agree that any (especially free) wood can be turned. Learn something, then sweep up and dispose.

    I was thinking more in the line of wood that would be used for real beginner projects. I have seen postings where it was noted that the wood was especially hard or easy to work with, or always cracked , or did not move much, etc - and thought someone may have pulled a list together with the turning characteristics.

    Since we are talking about wood, there are sure to be differences in the wood, different names for the wood, differences in experience with wood, different tools and methods - so one turners "nightmare wood" might be "dream wood" to another. It is all part of the adventure -right?;)

    As I find and try different woods, I will determine what works for me - and I expect it may change as my skills change.

    Now, for my next posting about what finish is best...:eek:
     
  10. prmiller

    prmiller

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    I use a book by Mark Baker for a reference source. It is called "Wood for Woodturners." I have found it a very helpful guide when dealing with wood I haven't used before.
     
  11. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    I prefer to jump in the air and yell, Tadaah!
     
  12. Ed Heuslein

    Ed Heuslein

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  13. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas

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    Good Wood for 1st Projects

    Ok! I think you are looking for a description like this.

    Fruit woods, ornamentals, nut woods and seed woods. Fruit woods and ornamentals are what you are probably referring to as 'tempermental' woods. Apple, Apricot, Pear, Persimmon etc. would be the fruit woods. Ornamentals would be Redbud, Bradford Pear, and others. The nut trees would be Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Pecan etc. The seed woods would be maple, elm, cottonwood, hackberry etc.

    I would think, and most us started our first projects with the nut woods or seed woods. I did the seed woods first, because they were free. Most of what I still turn is still free.

    Does this breakdown help?

    John:)
     
  14. Rick Prosser

    Rick Prosser

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    Cool - never seen a listing like that.

    The Nut and Seed trees should be the ones most suited for starting out then.

    Luckily, there are lots of Oak and Hickory (wish I could tell the difference by just the bark) trees available here. Got a load of Black Walnut, and some Pecan and Maple too. I also have lots of white cedar (lots of tear out), but it seems kinda plain when turned.

    Sparkleberry is part of the blue berry family, so that falls under (temperamental) fruit trees. So far, not worth my trouble.

    There are LOADs of long leaf pine, but I don't know of any use for turning - unless you like the turpentine smell :p

    (I have 54 acres of woods in central SC)
     
  15. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    While the web site is a great resource with its pictures, it doesn't have a necessary component for "accurate" color. Metadata, embedded in digital images defines the image's color space. The EXIF metadata has been stripped from the images in the web site. Without an embedded color profile, the software that is used to view the image makes assumptions about the colors that may not be correct. Additionally, most browser software doesn't support color management (Firefox does, but it has to be activated first by typing about:config in the address bar -- scroll down to gfx.color_management.enabled and click on it to change it to true). On top of all that, for the viewer to be assured of accurate color, the monitor also has to be calibrated. Most people who are not into photo editing probably do not bother with any of this. We do not know the color temperature of the lighting used for the photos and it is probably different from the monitor's setting (typically 6500K).
     
  16. Rick M

    Rick M

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    Not to take away from anything you described (very interesting and helpful, BTW), but is it not a better source than other random sites for such images since the site owner has at least attempted to achieve some level of consistency, even if the benchmark is only his own setup?

    Wouldn't it be great if a FAQ were available (here or the main AAW site, perhaps) to offer some details re: the data needed to record and display images properly, popular compatible software that doesn't remove all the data needed for correct/accurate display, images and guidelines to calibrate displays and printers, and a collection of images from participants using said info?

    I know I'd love to have such additional resources beyond any color printout that might be included when you buy a variety pack of blanks, or those miscellaneous unknown pieces a fellow turner has for sale or trade.
     
  17. rsser

    rsser

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    In terms of what woods you can get that ease the task of learning, getting advice from an experienced retailer or from an experienced local turner will help a lot.

    In general, stable medium grained timber will reduce the pain and increase the excitement you want as a starting turner.
     
  18. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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    Yes, if you have time to pursue a PhD or independent study in Computer Science.

    The editor of a computer magazine several years ago (many years, actually) wrote to the effect, "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from."

    IIRC, Internet communication generally restricts color palettes to 256 colors (FF in base 16), for maximum utility. With advances in technology, that may be out of date. And, note boehme's remarks about monitors. Even with "Custom White Balance," my camera sometimes lies to me (or so it seems).
     
  19. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have a fairly tall stack of technical books pertaining to color management and related topics and I think that it might be a bit too much to condense into a tutorial or FAQ section. For the average person, it is definitely TMI, but hopefully, someday computer operating systems and applications will become more color aware so that those things will be handled behind the scenes without the need to human intervention. Here is a easy reading overview of the subject that lightly touches on some of the aspects of color management. Color Management Blog

    Joe, the 256 color thing was way back in the olden days of the last century. :D These days, they can display 16 million colors except that they can't really because the typical monitor does not have a large enough gamut to display that many colors even when talking about sRGB. Colors that are out-of-gamut will look like their nearest neighbor that is in-gamut. From there, things start to get even more complicated because it depends on which color space you use to define the 16 million colors because they won't be the same in a different color space.
     
  20. Rick Prosser

    Rick Prosser

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