Wood Species Identification Workshop: Level 2

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Alex C. Wiedenhoeft, Ph.D., Center for Wood Anatomy Research, US Forest Products Laboratory & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Richard Soares, Center for Wood Anatomy Research, US Forest Products Laboratory

In this full day (8:30am-5pm) workshop, participants will learn to identify woods by studying both macroscopic and microscopic anatomical features. This workshop is suitable for those with at least entry level familiarity with wood anatomy and species identification* and will build on skills learned in the Level 1 Wood Species Identification Workshop.

Many hardwood species can be identified by observing the structure of the wood viewed on the end grain with a hand lens, but such identifications can be subjective and depend heavily on the personal experience of the identifier and their reference materials. More definitive wood identifications depend on the observation of microscopic characteristics. Learning which microscopic features are diagnostic and how to find and identify them is necessary in order to have a complete toolkit for performing wood species identification. Microscopic characters may seem complex at first, but they are in fact typically less subjective and also more plentiful, and so permit far greater identification confidence. To properly interpret the wood anatomical characters that enable identification of an unknown sample, participants will learn some rudiments of wood evolution and tree growth and function as living organisms. This gives a better understanding of what wood is, how it varies, and opens up a whole new way of seeing wood.

There will be a review of wood anatomy with practice examining samples of hardwoods and softwoods with a hand lens. This will be followed by a detailed look at microscopic features, what they are and how to find them. The workshop will be held at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Botany where all participants will have access to microscopes. There will be some pre-prepared slides of thin sections ready for study, but the emphasis will be on participants making their own hand sections and viewing them under the microscope.

The workshop will focus on common hardwoods and softwoods of North America. Skills learned can be applied to identification of non-native species as well.

Learning objectives for this workshop include:

  • integrating basic knowledge of wood anatomy on macroscopic and microscopic levels necessary for practical wood identification;
  • understanding how to compare unknown woods to reference materials using hand-held magnifiers and using the microscope;
  • knowledge of reliable reference materials, including on-line resources, for wood identification; and
  • application of scientific wood identification techniques to an unknown wood sample.

By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to put the knowledge gained into immediate practice. Participants are requested to bring a utility knife, their own hand lens, a copy of Hoadley’s Identifying Wood and their preferred reference materials they are familiar with, and are invited to bring small samples of unknown woods. Utility knives will be provided for those travelling by air.

Participants will receive electronic copies of presentations made throughout the day, and a number of reference materials from Dr. Wiedenhoeft's wood anatomy course in the Botany Department, Botany 575 - Wood Anatomy. A set of wood samples will be provided for students to use in preparing their own sections.

Includes breakfast and lunch.

Includes breakfast and lunch.

  • TFG member Rate: $195
  • Non-Member: $245

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If you have any questions, please Contact the Timber Framers Guild, info@tfguild.org or 360.746.6571.