Help with wood ID?

I’m making a sign out of some old barn boards and I’m going to attach them with Kreg screws. I’m trying to figure out if they’re hardwood or softwood. Any thoughts?

I’m thinking they’re hardwood because they look like they were originally flooring and it seems like that was more common, but wood ID is not in my skill set (yet). They are finished with clear TWP… it’s not having much of an impact on the color, but they are a touch redder than they were before I coated them.

Hmm really hard to read the grain, but it’s not super tight or closed, so that is a clue. probably not maple or oak, by the look.

Can you sand a section smooth so the grain/texture comes through?

I think @rbtdanforth posted a link to some wood identification stuff?

from a very broad standpoint, you can tell at least if it’s hard or soft wood by how difficult it is to scratch/gouge. and often by the weight.

I’ll try to sand a scrap piece. The sign is meant to look raw like this. It’s going to hang outside at a Ski condo in VT.

I think that requires a certain amount of background knowledge that I am currently lacking. :frowning:

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Does this help?

That is a softwood most likely. Looks like pine or fir to me based on the coloration around the knot and wide grain pattern.


ish? Can you sand the edge too?

Trying to get an idea of how close the growth rings are.

Judging by the looks of it and the dings already in it I suspect pine but I’d think you could smell that and pine is not ideal as a floor (speaking as a guy with pine floors in my house that are thrashed).

Where did it come from, again? Like what flooring?

Yeah, looks like yellow pine to me. A lot of knots like pine. Not an expert, but it’s the wood of choice for barns around here. Turns a dark color with age like that.


It’s from a small barn, I think built in the 1800’s. New England. I think it’s the flooring, but I’m not 100% sure.

It’s about 3/4" thick. I’ll see if I can sand an edge.

Duh. We cut the boards. :slight_smile:

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Well I think we can rule out exotics, then :wink:

We can also probably limit it to New England trees, oaks, maples, elms, and such. Can probably skip sycamores and tulips, they aren’t quire as common in New England.

If it was a barn, I’m still leaning toward white pine, but I really think you’d be able to smell it. Maybe hemlock? Lots of NE construction of utility buildings are hemlock.

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Seems like all of your guesses are softwoods. I’m going to go with that. :slight_smile:

Thank you SO much. You guys have been a great help. My sister-in-law asked for this sign and provided the wood (which happens to be from the house my husband and his brother bought together and the first place he and I lived together). I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time and money making sure it turns out OK and attaching the boards is the last step that I can really screw up!

Honestly, it kind of reminds me of Horse Chestnut.

Horse chestnut can definitely grow in New England, but I don’t recall them being a particularly plentiful tree. Most barns around that time would have been built with lumber that was felled fairly close by, do you know what the forest is mostly made of up there these days?

BTW that piece of horse chestnut is gorgeous and looks a little spalted.

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It does look like that, but the first thing that popped up when I searched for it was that it has poor decay resistance. Seems unlikely for a barn.

Just as well because I have already attached them together. :wink: Not perfect, but good enough. I’m gluing the letters on tonight and I’ll share the final results tonight or tomorrow.

soft wood, not hard. The Grain is not Maple for sure. If it was a hardwood, I would lean towards oak, mabe elm, but it’s difficult to tell the elm with out more clean samples. I still don’t think it’s either, and that its probably pine.


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