rail yard studios | tough job - timber identification

Chris Carter identifying timber species at Rail Yard Studios

Identifying and grading our timber stock is one of the hardest things we do around here.

If you find us down on hands and knees with our nose pressed to the end of a big chunk of wood as we squint at the rings of the tree, you've caught us in our toughest mental workout.

Robert Hendrick putting an eye on elm, oak and maple timbers at Rail Yard Studios

Oak and hickory can be pretty readily identified through some very distinct features. But distinguishing red oak from white oak typically requires a look through a loupe to see the tyloses - the thin "straws" that carry water up the tree.

Elm is also pretty distinct once you get some magnification. It has an amazing waving grain we refer to as "Charlie Brown" because of the similarity to the design on the cartoon character's shirt.

Then you have the other 20-30 species we typically see through the shop as well as the occasional wild card selection from the over 1000 species that populate North America.

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.