Part II of II: A Guide to Identifying Exotic Lumber in Houston

As we continue our series on identifying exotic lumber in Houston, we move on to some of the more complicated traits that wood has and how to traverse them to figure out what type of wood you’re actually looking at. Take a look:

Grain pattern

Looking at the grain texture, much like looking at its color, is going to tell you a lot about the wood and where it’s from. Take a look at a few of the traits that grain pattern has to offer:

  • Patterns can tell you if the wood is soft or hard. Softer woods have very few indentations in their grain patterns, while hardwoods have very erratic grain patterns as a result of
    their open pore structure.
  • In examining the pattern of the wood, you’ll be able to see how it was cut from the tree. While this might not seem like a tremendous clue in identifying wood, it can actually be quite useful. Look for plain surfaces, quarter saw surfaces or even butcher-block-esqe surfaces that can indicate the size of the tree and the cuts needed to extract lumber.
  • Take a look at knots, burl and any other unusual characteristics that might be prevalent in your wood. Many times these are an indicator in the species of wood and can include certain types of exotic lumber in Houston.

Weight and hardness

Density is a very important factor in determining wood types because hardness and weight are often indicators of different species. It often breaks down like this: hard versus soft, weight by comparison with other woods of the same pattern, and hardness or softness versus other types of wood of the same weight and species.

Not only will determining the hardness allow you to discern what type of wood you’re dealing with, it’ll also give you clues to the identity of the wood based on the types of applications it might be fit for. For example, furniture wood is going to differ from decking wood, allowing you to narrow down an unknown type of wood based on these types of applications.

The Source

If you know where a wood is from, this narrows down the determination of what type of species it is tremendously. Woods from South America are going to differ from those in Africa and so on and so forth. If you can narrow down a continent or even a region, you’re going to be one step closer to figuring out what type of wood you’re dealing with.

The Stand Out Quality

Woods have different traits that supersede many of the common traits listed in this guide and for that reason, it’s important to look for that one stand out feature that makes a certain wood unique. It could be a distinct smell, a reaction to light, a reaction to chemicals or even how it feels in your hand. These highly distinctive traits are usually what prove to be the nail in the coffin for identifying mystery woods.

Take a look at all of the factors listed above, as well as those in the first part of our comprehensive guide to identifying wood. If you come across exotic lumber in Houston and want to take a crack at identifying it, be sure to use this guide! If you’d rather let a professional handle the job, come and visit us at Houston Hardwoods, Inc.!