The Real Wood Bible: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Using 100 Decorative Woods

Overview

A practical and inspiring A-Z guide to the world's most popular woods.

Wood is a favored building material because of availability, ease to cut and join, decorative properties, functionality, flexibility, and a favorable strength-to-weight ratio.

The Real Wood Bible is a comprehensive handbook for anyone who works with wood...or is planning to. Woodworkers, crafters, ...

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Overview

A practical and inspiring A-Z guide to the world's most popular woods.

Wood is a favored building material because of availability, ease to cut and join, decorative properties, functionality, flexibility, and a favorable strength-to-weight ratio.

The Real Wood Bible is a comprehensive handbook for anyone who works with wood...or is planning to. Woodworkers, crafters, carpenters, and interior designers will find extensive information about the woods they regularly use as well as discover some new ones.

This colorful, easy-to-use book features:

  • How trees are converted into boards and veneers
  • How to convert your own trees into boards
  • Woods that incorporate beautiful natural effects
  • A list of woods available from sustainable sources
  • Useful advice on buying and storing lumber.

An extensive and illustrated A-Z guide to the world's most popular woods is the heart of this book. Each wood is shown with a color illustration demonstrating the true look and beauty of the finished and unfinished grain.

A special section on sustainability is included, with an introduction to key conservation issues.

The Real Wood Bible is the essential reference for the appreciation of the practical beauty of the world's most popular building material.

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Editorial Reviews

Log Home Design Ideas
[Review for previous edition:] You'll learn all about wood color and grain, sustainability and storage... It's a must-have reference.
— Sara Scott
Dayton Daily News
[Review for previous edition:] Every type of wood has its own personality and its own best uses, according to The Real Wood Bible.
— James Cummings
This Old House
[Review for previous edition:] It's the book you'd expect from a guy who made his first tool box from utile, an African mahogany.
— Mark Feirer
Toronto Star
[Review for previous edition:] Invaluable for the novice but also a good reference for the pro.
— Peggy Mackenzie
Hardwood Floors
Written to answer any wood-related question... With such complete information, a book like this is likely to become the Holy Grail of wood.
Orlando Sentinel
[Review for previous edition:] A thorough guide that can help beginning and advanced woodworkers choose between 100 types of decorative woods.
— Rebecca Swain Vadnie
Boston Globe
[Review for previous edition:] There's more to wood than just how it looks.... learn the strengths and weaknesses of all types of wood.
— Heidi Rose Lamirande
Home and Design
An essential reference for anyone who works with wood or makes decisions about how and where it's used.
Style At Home
[Review for previous edition:] Comprehensive guide... can help you select the best one for your project... Great for woodworkers, designers and homeowners alike.
— Diana Luciani
Fine Woodworking
[Review for previous edition:] Of particular note is a full-page photo of each species showing the wood in two states... valuable and useful guide.
— Anatole Burkin
Olympia Olympian
[Review for previous edition:] 36 pages of pertinent advice, including seven steps to choosing wood and discussion of issues surrounding certified supply.
— Sharon Wootton
Olympia Olympian - Sharon Wootton
36 pages of pertinent advice, including seven steps to choosing wood and discussion of issues surrounding certified supply.
Orlando Sentinel - Rebecca Swain Vadnie
A thorough guide that can help beginning and advanced woodworkers choose between 100 types of decorative woods... A photo index makes browsing easy.
Style At Home - Diana Luciani
This comprehensive guide to 100 of the world's most popular woods can help you select the best one for your project... Great for woodworkers, designers and homeowners alike.
This Old House - Mark Feirer
It's the book you'd expect from a guy who made his first tool box from utile, an African mahogany.
Toronto Star - Peggy Mackenzie
Invaluable for the novice but also a good reference for the pro.
Boston Globe - Heidi Rose Lamirande
There's more to wood than just how it looks.... learn the strengths and weaknesses of all types of wood.
Dayton Daily News - James Cummings
Every type of wood has its own personality and its own best uses, according to The Real Wood Bible... color photos and descriptions of 100 popular decorative woods.
Fine Woodworking - Anatole Burkin
Of particular note is a full-page photo of each species showing the wood in two states: bare and with a clear finish... a valuable and useful guide.
Log Home Design Ideas - Sara Scott
You'll learn all about wood color and grain, sustainability and storage — even how to turn your own trees into boards and veneers. It's a must-have reference to the world's most popular building material.
Houston Chronicle - Melanie Warner
Gibbs, a carpenter and editor of Woodworker magazine, includes a vast amount of details about each wood variety: strengths and weaknesses, key details, primary uses, price range and, new this year, a sustainability rating. Also included are glossy, close-up photos of each wood, shown unfinished and oiled. The woods include those from around the world. Besides being a veritable encyclopedia of woods, the book gives tips on buying and storing lumber, sustainability issues and an explanation of how trees become boards.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Mary-Liz Shaw
This is a useful and informative guide to woods used in building and crafts. Its best use may be to direct consumers away from stressed and threatened species and toward reasonable, sustainable substitutes.... Although written mainly for crafters and homebuilders or renovators looking for interesting trim options, the casual browser will find something to mull over.
Hardwood Floors
[Review for previous edition:] Written to answer any wood-related question... a book like this is likely to become the Holy Grail of wood.
Home and Design
[Review for previous edition:] An essential reference for anyone who works with wood or makes decisions about how and where it's used.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554070336
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/6/2005
  • Format: Spiral Bound
  • Edition description: Harcover w/Concealed Wire-bound
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Gibbs is a carpenter and editor of Woodworker magazine. He has contributed to many books including The Flooring Handbook.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted: Introduction and How To Use this Book

Introduction

Most woodworkers have a "palette" of woods that they favor, experimenting with alternatives for a specific purpose, or perhaps because they come across or are given a new board or veneer, cabinetmakers choose stable boards for panels, ideally quartersawn, that will not bend and buckle, or they glue decorative veneer to man-made sheets. chairmakers select strong, long-grained woods for the legs and rails, but more decorative, softer lumber for the seat. Though carvers like ornate wood, and can carve almost anything with modern rotary tools, they prefer it to be even-grained to reduce the risk of tearing. Woodturners, though, will use almost anything, particularly if the grain and color are distinctive and will enhance the perfectly formed curves of their bowls and boxes.

Whether forced by the requirements of a particular project or just because of boredom with what is in the workshop, every woodworker comes to a point when it's time to try a new type of lumber. Today, thankfully, there is plenty to choose from. Veneers and turning blanks are easy to source and purchase by mail order, from a catalogue or over the Internet, and even boards can be ordered this way.

Each mood has its own distinctive characteristics, though of course many share similar colors, grain patterns or textures. Hardwoods are favored for their strength, decorative effects, wide range of colors and durability. Softwoods tend to be cheaper, and are often seen as functional materials for building and construction.

THE IDEAL LUMBER

Somewhere out there is the perfect lumber that is easy and pleasurable to work while also being visually interesting, the ideal lumber will also

  1. have generally straight grain;
  2. be close-grained and hard for a good finish, or coarse-grained and easy to bring to a high luster;
  3. possess a few defects to add character without raising wastage rates to too high a level;
  4. have a distinctive color and figure (pattern).

THE FAMILY OF WOODS

Look through the list of woods in this book and you mill notice that some botanical and common names keep cropping up. There is an oak on almost every continent; indeed, that wood has been a giant of the lumber world for centuries. Other species that have dominated furniture making include the temperate hardwoods elm, ash and beech, and from the tropics, mahogany, teak and rosewood.

It is possible to argue that nearly all other woods are merely alternatives to these favored few, with lesser-known species gaining in popularity because of shortages or changing tastes. Woods of the genus Acer — maple and sycamore — are preferred for their close grain, ease of use and pale color, while cherry offers some of the qualities of mahogany but comes from a more trustworthy source. The huge number of tropical hardwoods now available perhaps reflects the attempt to find weather-resistant species to replace endangered woods such as teak, or furniture-quality species to replicate mahogany. Often they are poor imitations — in terms of color, figure and ease of use — of the originals, and that perhaps explains why temperate hardwoods like cherry have become so popular. Of course, tropical hardwoods are still favored in many cases for windows, doors and other joinery.

The most exotic species, such as rosewood and ebony, are now very expensive, and tend to be used only for decorative effects or as veneer. A by-product of the environmental movement has been the introduction of small quantities of previously unheard-of woods, many of them harvested by communal forestry enterprises in the tropics. Some of these are exquisite in color and figure, but as yet hardly used.

HOW TO CHOOSE WOOD

There are many factors to consider when choosing wood, If there is a strict budget to watch then price is a significant issue, and the degree of wastage may also be important. The structure of the piece way limit the range of options, depending on whether the design needs hardness, strength or a bit of give. A solid tabletop is best made from woods that are not likely to move, as are drawer components, which need to fit well for years.

Color may be important, either to match existing furniture, or to enhance the specific design. Stains and dyes can help, though many woodworkers prefer the integrity of an unadulterated finish. You may need to consider grain pattern and figure. Though it is often tempting to use the most decorative woods you can find,
sometimes intricate designs demand less sophisticated surface effects. In contrast, a simple design can be raised to new heights by a unique piece of lumber.

Texture can be used as creatively as color and figure. Coarse-grained species like oak and elm can be sandblasted or wire-brushed, and then limed or stained for dramatic effects, while highly polished rosewood is spectacular for more formal work. Species with contrasting colors, textures and patterns can be juxtaposes successfully, but usually needs some form of visual buffer between them, and great care needs to be taxes when attempting to form unlikely partnerships.

SEVEN STEPS TO CHOOSING WOOD FOR A PROJECT

  1. Establish how much lumber you need, based on the design.
  2. Consider the eventual setting for the item in terms of style, color and texture. A plain, Shaker-style interior is likely to demand less conspicuous species such as maples, cherries, fruitwoods and birches. Most exotic hardwoods, especially from tropical forests, will suit a more formal, ornamental setting, while coarse-grained oak, elm and ash have a softer visual effect that works well in a less formal space.
  3. When necessary, choose woods by function: ash for bending, ebony for edge features or bandings, aromatic cedar for drawer bottoms (it will retain a fresh smell and deter bugs). You can fight a wood's natural inclinations, like trying to bend balsa, but invariably the results will on unsuccessful and the effort frustrating. Some woods do not take to glue so well, while others need special finishing treatments.
  4. Some species are available only in limited dimensions. You will not find many long, straight pieces of boxwood, though if is excellent for tool handles, nor wide boards of ebony, which turners adore. If a wood is not available in thicknesses greater than 1 inch it will not be easy to use for a tabletop. Of course, modern adhesives enable us to build up sections of almost any wood, as long as the grain is not so distinctive that the joins are obvious.
  5. Talk to fellow woodworkers and consult this book to find suitable species. Check if lumber is available from a certified sustainable source.
  6. Though woodworkers should always take the necessary safety precautions, find out the potential risks of using a particular wood. The dust of many woods can aggravate breathing and cause skin allergies or problems.
  7. Having narrowed down your options, start hunting high and low for what you want, beginning with your local supplier. It all else fails, check the alternatives listed for most species in the Wood Directory that forms the main part of this book.
WORKING SAFELY

When working with wood, always take precautions against accidents with machinery. Use ear protection and eye shields, and a mask or respirator to keep dust from your nose and lungs. Some species are hated for the noxious power of their dust, which causes respiratory and skin problems or exacerbates existing allergies.

Make sure to investigate the health hazards before using a particular wood. Specific species have not been noted as harmful because reports are anecdotal, and evidence linked to particular woods hasn't been found. It would be irresponsible so list harmful woods as some harmful species may inadvertently be missed. Woodworkers should be cautious and make a note of any effects they may suffer from wood they are using. See a doctor if symptoms a

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Sustainability
Buying Wood
Trees to Boards
Storing Lumber

Wood Directory

  • How to Use this Book
  • Wood Selector
  • Principal Woods
  • Secondary Woods
  • Special Effects

Glossary
Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    Great for the serious woodworker!

    The book provides the serious woodworker with a wealth of knowledge about specialty woods that are not available at the "Big Box" stores. It will definitely help with future wood projects.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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