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Clockwise from top left: black and white ebony, Brazilian rosewood, Carpathian elm burl, zebrawood, redheart, tigre caspi, kingwood, tulipwood, and canarywood (center)

In a flurry of Googling “periodic table of ______” the other day, I happened upon a really neat website: The Wood Database. The database was created by Eric Meier, who originally began compiling specs on different types of wood for his own personal use, to use as a guide in selecting the appropriate wood for projects. He eventually moved his database online, to share with the public. For a given variety of wood, The Wood Database has images of the wood grain in various stages of preparation (sanded, sealed, endgrain). It’s a great resource for anyone who works with wood.

Eric says:

If you’ve got a project, and you’re looking for the right wood; or if you’ve got a stash of lumber, and you’re looking for a suitable project, The Wood Database can help. If you’re new to this site, I’d recommend taking a look at the section that explains all of the different terms that are used throughout the database. This will help you make sense of the data, and guide you into using the right wood for the right job — making your project a success!

Their Periodic Table of Wood, organized by the geographic origin of the trees, shows swatches of all the beautiful and varied wood grains from around the world.

Check out some of the other sections of the site, including Wood Allergies and Toxicity, The Truth Behind Wood Identification, Top Ten Heaviest Woods, and the handy Fraction and Metric Conversion Chart.

Laura Cochrane

Laura Cochrane

I’m a DIY editor at Instructables and I used to be an editor at MAKE and CRAFT. I like hiking, biking, rock climbing, and etymology.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/mrericsully Eric Sully

    I do the same thing with “Periodic Table of…”. What other interesting ones have you found?

  • Laura Cochrane

    Hm, this one is the best I’ve found. I think I was originally looking for a Periodic Table of Lichen. Looks like it doesn’t exist… yet. : )

    I’d also like to see a periodic table of tartans.

    What about you?

  • http://gravatar.com/nonnymus nonnymus

    I’d prefer the database if it put sustainability information front and center in its entries. Sure, they have a general article on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), but otherwise all species – common, sustainably managed, exploited, endangered, nearly extinct – are all treated the same. There might be some information in the “Pricing /Availability” section, but it’s really not enough.

    As global climate change continues apace, making sure we plant and keep plenty of trees is one of our best hopes to avoid disaster. It would be nice if the Wood Database helped in that effort by steering users to sustainably managed species.

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  • Robert

    If anybody is interested you can do wood science as a career, http://woodscience.wvu.edu/

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