Understanding Wood

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  • Red vs White Oak: How to Identify the Difference

    Red oak and white oak are in the same family, but have very different characteristics. Unfortunately simply looking at the boards may not give you enough information to tell the difference between the two. And no, looking at the color of the boards won’t do it. Red oak isn’t really red, and white oak isn’t…

  • How to Store Green Bowl Blanks

    When I turn bowls, I primarily work with green wood, meaning it’s dripping wet. Its moisture content could easily be around 30%. It’s easy to find wood that’s in that condition. The challenge is keeping it that way until you find the time to do the turning. Here’s the trick for this that I like…

  • Identifying Parts of Your Woodworking Project

    You wouldn’t start a project without looking at the plan first. Similarly, you shouldn’t start any projects without having a really close look at your material. What’re we looking for? When you purchase solid wood for your projects, especially hardwoods, they most likely will be in random width and random length. That means just what…

  • Repairing a Wobbly Table

    Building a wobble-free table or wobble-free chair legs can be tricky. Sometimes you might be working with organic shaped material, or other times perhaps there is the slightest slippage while you are gluing up. Whatever the cause, it’s common that a project wobbles just slightly when you take it out of the clamps. Never fear,…

  • How to Level a Wood Slab

    Perhaps you want to build one of those “River Tables” that are becoming famous around the internet, or maybe you want to build a simple coffee table using hairpin legs supporting a big ‘ol slab from a tree that was cut down in your neighborhood. Either way, you’ll need to learn how to level a…

  • What is Chatoyance?

    Like snowflakes, no two pieces of wood are exactly the same. That’s one of the things that makes woodworking so much fun. Like Forrest Gump said (using a little artistic license), wood is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. It’s so cool to clean up a piece of wood,…

  • What is Spalting?

    Many woodworkers want to invest some time into understanding wood, which is understandable since we spend a lot of time with it and wood selection is an important aspect to any woodworking project. There are many types of “specialty woods” to learn about, from quilted and curly patterns, to the dramatic effects that can be…

  • Using Mineral Spirits to Show Wood Grain

    It’s a magic moment…when finish hits your project for the first time and the grain starts to pop, glow, show you just what you’re going to get, it’s soooo cool. Here’s the problem. As you build your project or, even more importantly, as you select your material, you may have a hard time knowing how…

  • Filling Knots with Epoxy

    Some of the most amazing pieces of wood are the ones that have “defects.” Defects could be spalting (mold), small checks, bark inclusions or, in this case, a huge hole. Sure, we could cut around those things and eliminate them, but I’m a huge fan of including this character in the final piece. I think…

  • Allowing for Wood Expansion on Solid Wood Tops

    Wood moves; there’s nothing you can do about it. Even after the tree is down, the wood has been dried, you’ve got it in your shop, and you apply finish, wood is gonna move. It’s a living, breathing thing. If you don’t allow for wood expansion, you’re going to have problems in the future. Problems…