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Identifying "found" wood

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  • Identifying "found" wood

    Hello everyone, new guy here.

    I was hoping someone here can help me identify this wood I found a few months ago. Big storm came through and blew over some trees around town. I was driving along and saw these two log sections in the ditch so I jumped out and grabbed them.

    When it was wet, it was very heavy and did not want to split for anything. I ended up having to chainsaw it into chunks to work with. As it dries, it gets very-very light but seems to be fairly strong.

    It's not oak, I know oak pretty well. I thought it might be ash but it has gotten so light I have my doubts that it is ash.

    It's a very light "yellowish", almost white when cut and turns sort of a light yellow gold as it ages in the air.

    I have included some pics but I am a horrible photographer so they are not very good pictures.

    It's not hard to carve at all. I have carved oak and walnut and it is not nearly that hard.

    I don't think it's basswood because it has too much figure to the grain.

    It "looks" a lot like ash but it can't be ash, it's just too lightweight. Ash is pretty dense and heavy.

    I have looked over the internet trying to find it but can't really find anything that is a dead match.

    I live in central West Virginia by the way if that helps with the "regional" hardwoods.

    I wondered about cottonwood or tupelo but again, the pictures I have found of those aren't quite right.

    any help in identifying this would be very much appreciated. I am going to keep using it because I like it and it looks pretty decent and it was free!

    Thanks in advance

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I think the greenish light on it makes it difficult to identify - is that from a stained glass window, green skylight, or ???

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Claude View Post
      I think the greenish light on it makes it difficult to identify - is that from a stained glass window, green skylight, or ???

      That's the crappy flash from my cell phone doing that. I took those pics in my garage. Maybe tomorrow I'll take it outside in he sun and try to get some better, less fuzzy pics

      thanks for replying though.


      • #4
        I gave it a shot and took some more pics outside in the daylight.

        Hopefully this works better


        • #5
          Hard to say because the pictures aren't sharp, but it seems to have a "maple" type of appearance...but wouldn't be soft as you mention. Maybe someone else has an idea?
          Living among knives and fire.


          • #6
            Thank for the input

            I admit, I am a clown with a camera....I just don't ever take good pictures.

            I have red maple in the garage right now. I know because I saw the tree harvested and I know it was a maple. Not even close in density and weight.

            I am curious about cottonwood and tupelo and a few of the other deciduous "hardwoods" that are not so hard.

            It works well with a power carving bit. It doesn't go all fuzzy like basswood can.

            I didn't add that when I was cutting and splitting it down into blanks, there was a section between the heartwood and sap wood that was like a sheet of rubber...a white rubber. No seriously. it almost felt like latex to the hand. it actually looked like a skin of latex as well.


            • #7
              Based on the bark my guess is Ash.


              • #8
                It really looks a lot like ash.....but it is so light that is why I was so uncertain about it.

                Maybe it had a disease before it died and was blown down in a storm? it is like ridiculously light. It is strong in one direction but not so strong in the other.

                I am no master of wood species. I have been carving poorly for a very long time and I usually know exactly what I am getting in to and what am working with

                This one evaded me because it didn't match anything I have ever known before.

                I don't think it is butternut but maybe? I have never worked with butternut but I "hear" is is very similar to walnut but easier to work with. I have prob 500 pounds of walnut in the cabinet and this is nothing like walnut. All of the walnut I have is forkwood, crotchwood and stump wood. it's hard as a rock but absolutely beautiful when carved and finished. I got a tree from my wife's uncle a few years ago. I carved him a shark and he gave me a tree....go figure.


                • #9
                  You can always take a sample to the local co-operative extension for ID.
                  Living among knives and fire.



                  • #10
                    I never even thought of that. I live fairly close to the capital city so finding a DNR extension office might not be too hard.

                    The one thing I hate when people loo at your work and say "what kind of wood it is that"....and not being able to say definitively what it is.

                    It's a thing with me.

                    I have a stack of Catalpa I have been working through. I love that stuff. The smell talkes a little getting used to but it carves like a dream. But I can say, whenever someone asks what kind of wood it is "that is catalpa"....this wood....I get flushed because I just don't know


                    • #11
                      Thank you folks for your help.

                      I will keep looking and if I get the chance, I'll take a fresh billet by the DNR and see if they can identify it (DNR = Department of Natural Resources).

                      I am stumped. literally and figuratively. I went back past the place I "harvested" it from and there is nothing there to clue in what it might have been

                      The downside of city harvesting I guess.

                      Like i said earlier, it is actually a pleasure to work with and I like it. It is not hard to carve at all. That is not to say it is soft or it is "mushy" would have a hard tine scratching in with your fingernail. But to a sharp tool edge, it gives up easily and readily.

                      I hope I get more feedback here but I sincerely appreciate the replies I have received. I will keep looking and carving it until I have an answer or I have used it all up and moved on to the next found piece of wood


                      • #12
                        Joe: You may be able to match up the bark to one of the trees shown in here:

                        For matching the wood, this may help: The Wood Database | The Wood Database

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the tip.


                          • #14
                            The verdict is in.

                            I got a guy from the university to look at it

                            It's ash. I thought it was but was not positive.

                            Thanks everyone for your help


                            • #15
                              Well now that it is sorted out...I guess I go back to carving useful things....

                              It's kind of what I usually do