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Agriculture Dept's Forest Serivce

The United States Government is a huge repository of information on just about every topic you can imagine, and wood is certainly no exception. The United States Department of Agriculture has as one of its subagencies the Forest Service, the home page for which is: USDA's Forest Service This site contains a wealth of information on trees and wood (and more), and is well worth a visit.

For those of you that are in a hurry and don't want to take a leisurely poke around the Forest Service site, here are a couple of direct links that you might find interesting:

There is a wood-related page at: USDA / FS wood page

and a massive amount of very specific, detailed wood information starting at: USDA / FS wood tech sheets --- be aware that none of the tech sheets are even remotely current and while that doesn't matter much for most of the information presented, since it hasn't changed, the more important issue is that errors in the sheets do not get corrected. I have contacted them about numerous errors on the pages and have never gotten a reply.

Wood Barter Wood ID Resource List
The Wood Barter formum (link at the bottom of this page) has one page that lists a large number of wood ID related sites. You can see it Wood Barter Wood ID Resource List

North Carolina State University

The North Carolina State University has online a fabulous set of color images of 354 species of wood, and each species is represented by three exceptionally detailed pics: tangential (flat cut), radial (quartersawn), and cross section (end grain).

These images are from the original edition of the book "The American Woods: exhibited by actual specimens and with copious explanatory text" by Romeyn B. Hough, published in 1888 and 1928. That book is now in print in a new edition with entirely DIFFERENT pictures of the same outstanding quality. It is now called "The Wood Book" and it is readily available online for $80 --- expensive but MORE than worth the money if you love wood. The NCSU images from the original edition can be seen at: the Wood Book

There is both a common name index and a botanical name index available.

International Wood Collector's society

The IWCS is an organization of people who collect wood samples and information about wood. They are very active and have a very knowledgeable membership and a very professional newsletter. Some of the members are woodcrafters and others are more interested in the scientific/botanical characterists of trees and wood. Their home page is: IWCS home page

Although I have gotten EXCELLENT help from numerous members of the IWCS and have found them to be nice folks, I have an antagonistic relationship with the organization itself because some years back, when my site was first starting up, I had a serious run-in with the at-that-time senior leadership of the organization. Basically they condemned my site because I used common wood names instead of botanical names. Also, in a flurry of emails, to which I was made privy, one of the senior officers of the organization said he felt that the organization should not try to merge with my site (which one of the other members had suggested because theirs was so poor and mine was so good), not because I was using common names (he knew that could be fixed) but because I was putting up all that information for free and he felt that the society should charge money for it. I did not see any support for his suggestion but to me an organization that has even one senior member with that kind of attitude is NOT my kind of community-minded organization.

Further, I bought the complete set of wood samples made available by the organization (as opposed to being made available by the members, many of whom have amazingly large collections and many duplicates for sale) and I was just absolutely STUNNED by the shoddy quality of a large percent of the samples. After thinking it through, I realized that this was because the organization sells samples contributed by the members and many of the members obviously contribute pieces that are too shoddy for them to conscientiously sell on their own. OK, so I can accept that the samples are crap when compared to similar sets I have purchased from commercial organizations. BUT ... I then started going through and found that in a surprisingly large number of cases (I think it was about a dozen) the botanical names were not properly spelled. THAT kind of shoddiness just seemed really amazing from this particular organization.

SO ... if you're one of those nice folks who from time to time suggest that I join the IWCS, I can only quote my friends from New Jersey ... "fuggedaboudit"

Eric Meier is, like me, dedicated to presenting accurate information about wood and has created a substantial web site with lots of good inormation. This site started out apparently non-commercial like mine but has gone more commercial, but it's a very good site so I'm keeping my link: THE WOOD DATABASE

The best woodworking forum on the internet: