Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Wood color stardards by species?

  1. Nov 26, 2012 #1

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor


    Wood undergoes changes when exposed to direct sunlight (above reference) or
    incidental light. One of the changes is a change in color. Others include decreased
    film finish adhesion, and some other probably not so good changes.

    Walnut becomes pale and washed out, white pine becomes orange-ish
    (pumpkin wood), cherry is notorious for getting a "sunburn".

    As sort of a rule of thumb, lighter woods darken and darker woods lighten over time.

    This site has really well done wood pictures:


    One caveat. Displaying my ignorance: I was one of those folks who identified seeds and
    wood samples at a USDA lab about 50 years ago. Color of wood was not
    ever considered a primary property of wood because of the above. Wood
    changes color with age.

    The person who put together the site did not mention any standard color reference
    about wood, but the pictures have the "correct color". I'd love to learn about
    that. And how to know what a correct color is by species.

    Question: does anyone know if there is an defacto industry standard for the
    color of lumber by species? Could you please provide any links you
    might have?

    I personally don't think there is one. :(
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member


    That's my site and yes, I left out a LOT of things (such as generalizations about wood color) to focus pretty much entirely on correctly colored pics of wood.

    Generalizations about wood color are very tough. There ARE some (such as your statement about cherry) that are reasonable, and I have some such in with the specific woods. For example, the cherry fact sheet includes the statement
    If you spend much time on the site you will not likely have any trouble believing that I have spend many THOUSANDS of hours on it and my list of things left to do it so long that I'm quite confident I will never finish it.

    If you have any specific questions, let me know

  4. Nov 26, 2012 #3

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, you did a very good job. Wood identification: We used to relegate color of wood samples way behind things like resin canals, heartwood/sapwood transitions, microscopic end grain analysis, density and the other stuff like lithocysts. Those can be hell on tool steel. Lots of tropical woods are beautiful, but eat tools for lunch for a variety of reasons.

    So, tropical wood imports were rising fasst in 1964, when I stopped playing woodologist. They were becoming commerically important. Now a lot them are becoming commerically unavailable, banak comes to mind

    Years ago, I used to teach short classes on this stuff to FFA'ers. A lot of it has melted away.

    I thought I was missing something. That cannot happen! Still am a wood freak the past 50 years or or so. Reason I got into Botany to start with.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook