identifying wood


Last week, swmbo placed an order for some furniture. End result? A trip to kettle-moraine with a u-haul trailer. I returned with 2 sheets of 3/4 baltic birch, 2 sheets of 1/2 baltic birch, 2 sheets of 1/4 maple ply, 120 board-feet ot hickory, and 110 board-feet of hard maple.
I kept the lumber separate in the trailer, but some had to be turned diagonally to fit in the 12' long trailer! Also, some of it moved around on the way home. While pulling it out, I was a bit worried at one point because there were a few boards that I couldn't tell apart. I ended up looking at the markings they put on the boards while rating them. Seemed like they used different marking schemes for different species. The also used different color paints on the endgrain when stickering them.
So if I didn't have this way to cheat, how could I have identified them as hickory or hard maple? Some of the boards looked very different. I think in some cases, the grain pattern looks different. But for the boards in question, they looked identical to me. Is there some sort of test I can apply or characteristic I can look for just in case my assumption about the markings turns out to be false? I'd hate to discover at finish time that I mixed them up on the same project.
brian
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brianlanning wrote:

I can't say I see much - nay, *any* - similarity between maple and hickory...
Hickory has rather coarse pores, maple does not The grain pattern is different Color is generally different
Hickory is harder too but that doesn't really help ID it.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
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ok, so hickory is an open-grained wood?
The color is nearly identical between the two.
The grain pattern is completely different on some boards, and nearly identical on others. I thought about the hardness also. I tried crushing some wood with the tip of a screwdriver. My admitedly unscientific test showed them to be about equal, although I know hickory is supposed to be much harder.
I've never worked with either wood before. Up until now, it's been all pine, red oak, and plywood.
brian
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Hickory is about the same hardness as hard (sugar) maple, and the colors can be similar. Hickory is open grain and coarse (rough and splintery) like oak or ash. You can see the pores without magnifying. Maple is closed grain and very smooth.You can't see the pores. robo hippy
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brianlanning wrote:

On average hickory is a bit more than 10% denser than sugar maple. So if you can accurately mesure and weigh some samples from each you may be able to tell them apart. Can you use a hole saw to cut a standard-sized sample from each board?
You may also find that the maple burns much easier when cutting it, as with a hole saw.
--

FF


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[snip]

Given that you know the pieces are either hickory or hard maple, here are a few ways to tell the difference, other than making the determination visually:
- Cut a sliver off with a penknife, wet it, and sniff. Maple has almost no odor, whereas hickory does.
- Taste it. Hard maple has a faintly sweet taste, or none at all. Hickory is distinctly bitter.
- Burn a small scrap. If you've ever eaten hickory-smoked food (or even smelled it being cooked), you'll recognize that distinctive hickory smell immediately. If you don't smell that, it's not hickory.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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I can't believe I didn't think of this. They're all good ideas. Thanks.
Now I know what to do with the hickory scraps from that project (duh).
brian
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You betcha. In my shop, most of the scraps go to the fireplace. All except hickory. Those go to the grill.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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You might try:
Maple: http://woodfinder.com/woods/hard_maple.php Hickory: http://woodfinder.com/woods/hickory.php
Shaun
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