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Thirty-three varieties

I had quite a surprise when I started putting together a “sample set” of wood species.

A friend of mine recently accepted a teaching position in Korea and contacted me about where she could get a sample set of as many wood species as possible. Her field is archaeology, and the wood samples would somehow relate to what she’s doing. I gave her a couple links to online sellers of wood samplers, but also mentioned that I could probably get her started with a small set just from my own shop.

I think she’ll ultimately ordered one of those sets online – they contain far more species than I could round up (or so I thought), plus shipping would probably be easier. However, with a bit of time on my hands between projects I thought it’d be fun to go ahead and make a set for myself. Once I started digging through lumber racks and scrap buckets, I was stunned to discover just how many wood species I own.

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After all my rummaging, I found 33 wood species I could identify, four exotic hardwoods I couldn’t, plus additional variations on all of these like burls, quartersawn, spalted and tiger figured. Most of what I found was what you’d expect – maples and oaks, SPF, poplar, Western red cedar, birch, walnut and such – but I also have a surprising amount of cocobolo, ebony (two kinds), rosewood (three kinds) and zebrawood. Joining those were lesser amounts, but still enough to make something, of oddball stuff like pink ivory, canarywood, lacewood, and marblewood.

I had no idea I had all this wonderful wood on hand, but clearly remember working with all of it, although not specific projects for all of them. Plus, once I thought about it, I also recall working with a number of other woods that I didn’t happen to find – stuff like holly, sycamore, willow and a dozen others. I was pleased to be reminded that I’d worked with so many species. And, clearly, creating my “sample set” is going to be a true project, and not the simple time-killing diversion I thought it would be.

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