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Identifying Wood: Accurate Results with Simple Tools.

Identifying Wood: Accurate Results with Simple Tools, by R. Bruce Hoadley. Taunton Press, Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506 (1990). Color and black-and-white photos, 240 pp. Hardcover, $39.95.

So long as wood continues to be the world's preferred building and furniture material, people will ask, "What kind of wood is this?" The question is usually followed by folklore, wild guesses, and a lot of finger tapping, nail scraping, gouging, and eyeballing. Conclusion: hard to tell, especially if it's old or odd.

Or you could call Dr. Hoadley, just as lawyers have done when they are trying to establish product liability or convict a murderer. Fortunately for readers, Hoadley is as good a teacher as he is a scientist.

When a tree has been reduced to a few boards or splinters, identifying wood is an exercise in anatomy. That's where Hoadley starts. The first part of this book is a clear and interesting explanation of how nature creates a piece of wood and how the lines and dots and colors you see in a chopping block or gun stock came to be.

The most welcome revelation for people who have used field guides to plants is that almost all the tools you will need are cheap and common razor blade, knife, hand lens, hand saw, and vise. Even the optional microscope need be nothing fancier than a student scope.

Once underway, you can check your conclusions against some of the 152 color photos. Most of them are in the step-by-step chapters on identifying hardwoods, softwoods, and tropical woods. This is the kind of book you expect from the practical people at Fine Wood Working magazine: a beautiful and reliable guide. AF
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Kaufman, Wallace
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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