Recently, my co-worker Josh and I hosted an informal wood identification seminar for our fellow employees here at Pioneer Millworks and New Energy Works. It was not the first time we had been asked to present on the topic. Years ago, when we worked together out in the yard, we developed a reputation as wood identification sleuths of sorts. It was our job at the time to inventory all the tractor trailer loads of reclaimed wood that arrived daily from our suppliers across the northeast. We would sort through these timbers and measure and identify each piece. In the beginning we knew nothing. But we learned to identify one species at a time until even the odd red elm timber could be spotted with a quick slice of the end-grain.
How did we acquire this knowledge? One book: Bruce Hoadley’s Identifying Wood With Simple Tools! The book is a fantastic resource. It’s a clearly written guide to wood anatomy written for the amateur scientist/passionate woodworker in all of us. The encyclopedic collection of end-grain photographs in the second half of the book is worth the cover price alone.
Years ago, when we were first asked to present to our co-workers, Josh and I put together this goofy but educational YouTube video,
This time around we conspired to have the real Bruce Hoadley Skype in to our presentation. We got the next best thing.
Our presentation also involved a brief but intense game of “wood identification bingo”. The winner, Hans of our fine woodworking group NEWwoodworks, was awarded a brand new copy of Bruce Hoadley’s book.