Friday, 14 December 2018
How can we know which is which?
Frequently the block is a light color but quite grubby, so the grain is difficult to see. However once you look at the face of the block you can occasionally scrape the debris off and watch the grain. Or better still if you can sand a little back to view the surface. When it's pale it's frequently a European timber, like Beech, Pine or Pitch Pine, Maple or sometimes, Oak. There are some tropical hardwoods but which are pale, Agba being just one.
Pitch Pine or Columbian Pine (also known as Douglas Fir)
Primarily, for Pitch pine and Columbian Pine -- see just how noticeable the grain is? Pitch Pine has dark and resinous lines combined with the pale honey colour you would expect from walnut, and the lines are typically significantly thicker than walnut. It is a much harder-wearing block and'bruises' or dents less readily than walnut.
Second how heavy is it? Trouble is if you don't know your Pines, which is hard to compare. Both pines have'open' pores however but normally Pitch Pine has more challenging timber between the resinous lines. See the photographs below for an illustration.
At times the only way to tell is to look at a bigger place to get an overall sense of the amount of dark contrasting lines you'll be able to see as each block differs.
Maple or Beech differences?
Another confusion is Maple or Beech. When you start looking the differences between beech and the pines are all marked. However on first viewing between beech and walnut you will find similarities.
The colour of beech is pinkish light honey along with the grain is flecked, despite the fact that there are additional grain lines to distract you, look for the background flecking. Maple is a light almost warm ash blonde having a shimmer, and a more diverse grain. However, without experience you'll be none the wiser. The fantastic news is that the timber hardness is your giveaway -- if you press your fingernail into Beech wood you can barely make a dent, whereas you'll easily leave a nail mark in the heftier Maple.
Lastly, Oak. English Oak is unmistakeable. When you look closely and when you manage it the features are extremely specific. A wood, with a lovely smell and color. Occasionally you see that the medullary rays throughout the timber like little silvery streaks. That is a complete confirmation that you've got oak. You can see that illustrated from the panel below: