What Wood Is That?
First, check wood's color
Boards accumulate dust, dirt, and a dull patina of oxidation that cloud identification. Create a fresh surface the size of your hand with a cabinet scraper, knife, or razor blade on the tangential surface (the top or bottom of a flatsawn board). This sraping also should give you an idea of the mystery wood's hardness relative to wood you're familiar with. Walnut should be instantly recognizable. So should the pinkish tan of red oak. Grain pattern might ring a bell, too. Broaden your ability by studying the color and grain of wood at your supplier, and as you work different species in the shop.
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