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Ken_N

Mystery Wood?

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I started a new instrument.  I have plates roughed out for three, but I started a form finally.  The block wood for the corners is one of my favorites.  I have no idea what it is.  I'm pretty sure it is the same as another piece of wood I have, and there is a smaller piece that looks almost exactly like it, but it is heavier.  They were all found at work.  

The wood saws easy,  planes easy,  a gouge can pop off straight peelings for roughing out the curves.  It files easily, and since I got a nice Swedish knife with a long straight blade, I found that it cuts beautifully under the knife as well. No surprise.

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I couldn't find any of the block that it came from, but I think it is like the big piece here.  I have them both labeled Yellow Poplar. The other wood I have with the purple and yellow streaks is Yellow Poplar. These are yellow.  Some grey from weather, and the smaller one has a very nice cinnamon color on the one side.  That one is .55 sg.  The other is only .4 sg.

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Looking at the photo, I see that I was fooled by the color, which doesn't look the same there.  I took another close up, and the color is similar, but the wood is indeed different.  Very different weights.   The phone says that the photo is queued!  Why not just send it.  The phone is INCHES away!  Maybe I'll go a snow blow the driveway.  Did I ever say that I hate winter?

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Any ideas on what either one of them could be?  Maybe the light one IS poplar?   Maybe they are both Poplar, and the light one grew fast, and the heavy one grew slowly (5 years  to 8 years for 2" of diameter)?The other Poplar I have must be something called rainbow poplar? much darker.  Doesn't seem to have the nice rays and flecks.  Maybe Poplar varies a lot?  I've never seen any at a big box store that I'd even look at twice.   Very boring stuff.  All of this wood is pretty.   

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Hi ken, Rainbow poplar is yellow poplar (tulip poplar) with heavy mineral staining, not a different species.  Looks great.  The figure of the close up of the two pieces in the last picture remind me of American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) cut off the quarter (forget the name for between quarter and plain sawn).  If sycamore and quarter sawn I would expect a much more speckled figure.  My 2 cents.  Probably worth less with inflation.

-Jim

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Could very well be sweet gum.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidambar_styraciflua

While what's usually shown on the internet is a darker color, that's typical of heartwood from older trees in particular.  Most of what I harvest here is lighter, like what you have.  The things are a veritable weed on my property, and require constant cutting.  Besides readily growing from seed, established trees put out sucker networks, and pop up everywhere.  A cute little sapling popping up in Spring can become a 20 foot monster six inches in diameter in only a couple of years, and stumps coppice easily.

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Jim, so it's the minerals that stain it.  I know it's not American Sycamore. It is very different and I've used it several times. It also has a distinctive, smell. Makes a nice back. but for a neck it needs filling, so it isn't as good a choice. I found a small, long piece at work, and used it on several for linings because it was easy to bend, and looked cool.  Sycamore has a much different feel.  The rays and flecks can be quite hard, these are not like that. The grain changes direction a lot even without flame, and it is more in the .55 range. Sometimes the flecks and rays alternate, so it doesn't have an even appearance; more ribbonlike, or flowing; which can work for you if it's in the right place.  It does seem to be quite resonant though, and about the right strength.  It doesn't work nearly as well as this yellow wood does.

I have a piece of dense Sycamore with some mineral staining.  I use it for bridge blanks.

Interesting.  I was just writing something yesterday about American Sycamore and Sweet Gum.  I was thinking about the hanging balls, stars, with the seeds.  I don't know if  it is either.  But they came up! 

 

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2 minutes ago, Ken_N said:

Jim, so it's the minerals that stain it.  I know it's not American Sycamore. It is very different and I've used it several times. It also has a distinctive, smell. Makes a nice back. but for a neck it needs filling, so it isn't as good a choice. I found a small, long piece at work, and used it on several for linings because it was easy to bend, and looked cool.  Sycamore has a much different feel.  The rays and flecks can be quite hard, these are not like that. The grain changes direction a lot even without flame, and it is more in the .55 range. Sometimes the flecks and rays alternate, so it doesn't have an even appearance; more ribbonlike, or flowing; which can work for you if it's in the right place.  It does seem to be quite resonant though, and about the right strength.  It doesn't work nearly as well as this yellow wood does.

I have a piece of dense Sycamore with some mineral staining.  I use it for bridge blanks.

Interesting.  I was just writing something yesterday about American Sycamore and Sweet Gum.  I was thinking about the hanging balls, stars, with the seeds.  I don't know if  it is either.  But they came up! 

 

That's what the internet says, so it has to be true. ;)  Ok, http://www.wood-database.com which I have a little more faith in.

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I suggest taking a very sharp knife or better yet a new single edged razor blade and take a shaving of of the end grain so that the pore structure is perfectly exposed. Then check for end grain pictures on the web of the woods you think it is and compare the two. This is the best way to actually identify the species. Although guessing is at the least very entertaining. :lol:;)

Oh yeah then look at the pore structure with a magnification loop then do the comparing. 

Edited by Mike Spencer
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End grain?  Who woulda thunk.  The rainbow one, and the big block seem to be Poplar for sure.  There is not much difference between them and the other one that I can see, other than everything is more compact, and the pores are smaller. The other is much harder; the two Poplar ones are easily marked with a fingernail, much like a softwood.  I checked my other woods.  Sycamore has the biggest, darkest rays.  Cherry is easy.  It looks and smells like cherry.   Pictures are from wood-database.  Poplar on top, Gum on the bottom.  

 

yellow-poplar-endgrain-zoom.jpg.07f83ba3dd38121f464dd1d08f1585e0.jpgred-gum-endgrain-zoom-gw.jpg.8991cc80d34dae056abdf0faa92e219f.jpg

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Now you got it! Off the top of my head, pore size, pore density, annular rings, ray size, parenchyma, stilosis or not plus other features are like finger prints.  This is the best way to identify the species. 

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