What wood is this?

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I have an 1891 row house in Brooklyn. One of my newel post finials is missing. But neighbors with identical houses still have theirs. So a friend of mine that is adept with a lathe has offered to make me a new one. We have photographed and measured it. But what is the wood? A fellow that I once was going to hire to make it said white oak. Then my friend thought it was Douglas fir. But a friend of his that comes from Eastern Canada says it is definitely yellow pine, and pointed out several features that are inconsistent with Douglas fir. Now the only pine in my house is the floors. And the wainscoting near the finial is oak. My friend says oak is easier to turn. What do you guys think it is? [Warning, this was not reduced in size, so it is 441MB.]
http://donwiss.com/finial.jpg
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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I vote for oak, but I'm not 100% sure. You may want to post this on rec.woodworking for more information.
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....
I vote for oak, too. Specifically, it's white oak, and I'm virtually 100% sure :) The visible grain is conclusive imo.
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You're virtually 100% mistaken, too. That absolutely is not oak of any sort, especially not white oak. The photograph shows vertical grain, which in any oak, would show significant ray flakes -- which are particularly prominent in white oak, and utterly absent in the photograph.

You're right, the visible grain *is* conclusive -- it conclusively shows it's *not* oak.
It's white *ash*.
Ash is frequently mistaken for oak, particularly when stained. You're not the first person to make that error, and you won't be the last, either. The two are very, very similar in grain -- except for the prominent rays that are unmistakeable in oak, and non-existent in ash.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

<snip>
Except, of course in rift sawn oak. Which is (IMO) what this is...rift sawn white oak.
--

dadiOH
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Hellooooo.... it's a *round* object, which exposes *all* aspects of the grain. Rift-sawn grain is visible at the left of the photo -- but look at the right side of the photo, where the grain is perfectly vertical, perfectly quartersawn. If it were white oak, or any other kind of oak, there would be rays visible there.
There aren't. Therefore, that is *not* oak.
You're not the first person to mistake ash for oak, and you won't be the last, either -- but mistake it you did.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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After a review and careful consideration, I'm changing my mind. Ash seems to be very likely.
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Thanks. I wasn't aware such a group existed. Probably because I do no woodworking myself and would not have thought to look for it.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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post this on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking. IF you can get a close up of a spot that is chipped or has the stain removed that would help.

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Another hint you can give us is to tell us how hard the wood is. Take a ball point pen and apply some light pressure and let us know if it leaves a mark. The pine and fir will be soft.

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The problem is the pictured finial is not in my house. It would be an imposition on my neighbors to go over yet again to check the hardness.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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HotRod wrote:

That's a new one .. how many pounds of pressure to dent oak as compared to pine and fir? The photo is definitely oak, not pine. Makes me want to go antiqes shopping :o)
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It certainly isn't pine or fir, but it also absolutely _is_not_ oak. Oak has very prominent, unmistakeable rays that are clearly visible in vertical (quartersawn) grain -- and completely absent in that photograph.
It's ash.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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European Beech Northern Red Oak Silver Maple Rock Maple White Oak Bend Strength 16245 psi 14050 psi 8900 psi 15800 psi 15200 psi
Max. Crushing Strength 3850 psi 3665 psi 2490 psi 4020 psi 3560 psi
Impact Strength 45 inches 50 inches 25 inches 39 inches 37 inches
Stiffness 1958 1000 psi 1755 1000 psi 1140 1000 psi 1830 1000 psi 1780 1000 psi
Work to Max Load 17inch-lbs/in3 15inch-lbs/in3 8inch-lbs/in3 16inch-lbs/in3 15inch-lbs/in3
Hrdness 1400 lbs 1290 lbs 700 lbs 1450 lbs 1360 lbs
Shearing Strength 2024 psi 1780 psi 1480 psi 2330 psi 2000 psi
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wrote:

And this is relevant exactly how?
The sample under discussion is unquestionably not *any* of those woods.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

just the finial, not the whole post? The finial is PROBABLY the same wood as the rest of the post. Drill into that, in a spot where the new finial will cover it. You should be able to decide if it's pine/fir by smelling the sawdust. Actually, if you can find a spot that's not finished, you might be able to heat it with a blowdrier enough to smell.
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Don Wiss wrote:

The wood certainly looks like oak. If I had to guess, without the photo, I would have guessed yellow pine. Yellow pine was harder in the old days and wood moldings often faux painted. I have no clue how machining oak would go, but that is a beauty. That black gunk is probably old wax mixed with dirt and might come off with mineral spirits, which can dull the wood.
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They're all wrong. It's ash.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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With that porous grain, it certainly is NOT any pine nor fir. I cannot see any rays so I would have to agree that it probably is ash. Today's wood will not have that tight grain seen in the photo, must have been some virgin forest that it was cut from in 1891, weren't they all virgin forests back then? .
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EXT wrote:

Not much left then, but there was some. Virgin forests went before coal was mined large scale.
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