Help - Can you identify this wood?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Doc Blue, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    This came from my Dad’s shop many moons ago. Never gave it much attention as I was always looking at the live edge or the rough cut side. He never had a lot of exotic woods.

    Any ideas? Always assumed it was walnut or aged padauk, but I’ve never seen walnut this color and a fresh end cut didn’t brighten it up. Thinking maybe koa as he had several pieces he picked up in the 1970’s, but if it is, it’s just plain straight grain koa. Calculated density is 45 lb/cu ft, hardness feels up there. Face grain is aged, end grain is this morning’s cut and sanded. Width is ~6 inches, thickness 31/32 inch.
    D5BF598F-1857-4637-A1FC-335527435518.jpeg A2C7F6EF-0076-424B-9CCA-756C8D3C142E.jpeg
    Here’s a comparison for reference. From top left to lower right - black walnut, mahogany, koa (picked up on the big island in 2012), mystery piece, American walnut (harvested from western Washington in the mid 1970’s), and padauk.
    Thanks everyone :)
    gscroggin likes this.
  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Can you sand or clean up a face? In the photos it's hard to tell if there are dark flecks in the grain or it's just open pores with dark dust in them.

    What does that pencil writing say? Half something?

    Is the top edge in your first photo a strip of sapwood with bark still on it? If so what's the bark like?
    Doc Blue likes this.
  3. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
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  4. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    34DC80AF-2489-4A5B-842C-7B0D233BF474.jpeg F28DD9D8-3F28-4D90-87F8-B82A8C7228C8.jpeg 3789E57E-0249-480F-A396-BD56FAC67C13.jpeg 276CAE97-3D0B-4DD2-BE68-6F1704A07D5F.jpeg
    Cleaned up with 220. Pencil writing is my dad’s- half 3 in approx. Yes, that’s sapwood. Bark is thin and longitudinally fiberous, flaky. Looks increasingly like walnut to me when sanded.
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  5. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
  6. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Does it smell like walnut when you sand it? Walnut doesn't have a strong odor but it is pretty distinct IME.

    Another trick - put it under a black light. Koa will have a faint green glow, walnut won't.

    Since you have walnut and koa on hand you can compare to both in smell and blacklight appearance.
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  7. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    I looked last night and I can’t find my black light! But I can try the smell test, thanks for the idea.
    dwizum likes this.
  8. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    Smell test is inconclusive. Walnut is definitely noticeable, mystery wood is much more faint, to my senses anyway.
    dwizum likes this.
  9. Feral Cat

    Feral Cat Supporting Member

    May 8, 2018
    Looks like Claro Walnut. If it is, it's great instrument wood!
    Doc Blue and Low8 like this.
  10. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    The faint odor descriptor of supports this, don’t think the end grain photo does though.
  11. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
  12. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
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  13. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Cut two wings out of it, two strips of the pale one, and glue them all to a strip of the red one.
    Doc Blue likes this.
  14. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Inactive

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
  15. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That sure looks like Walnut to me, but I'll defer to the Woodmeisters.
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  16. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    Walnut FEELS like the right answer.
    Low8 likes this.
  17. lo fi

    lo fi

    Mar 12, 2015
    looks like black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia.
  18. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I'm voting walnut. But I'm not too bright.
  19. Doc Blue

    Doc Blue

    Mar 29, 2019
    St Augustine
    Certainly a possibility. Never would have come up with that by myself.

    Going to have to get a black light…
  20. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I've never seen black locust that dark, IME it's usually lighter and yellower, with distinct oak-like grain patterns. It's also extremely hard and stiff!
    Bloomfield and Beej like this.