the smell of wood - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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the smell of wood

have you ever had some nice wood in your shop that when cut is just revolting to you? i have some. purpleheart. it smells bad. tulip wood on the other hand is refreshing. i just have to take the respirator off for just one good sniff. i like pine too. purpleheart...not so nice. sure does look good though

of all the things i have lost, i miss my mind the most

Last edited by cowboy dan; 09-02-2011 at 08:41 PM. Reason: added
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post #2 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 08:57 PM
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I've got a large pile of spalted red oak that smells like bad assiago cheese left in a hot car in the sun for 5 days!

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
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post #3 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 09:14 PM
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I have some purpleheart in my shop and have turned a lot of it i have never had it smell bad or leave a bad odor in my shop. But on the other hand i had some black walnut that i started turning and had to stop and get out of the shop it smelt like a skunk that just got raun over 20 times.
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post #4 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 10:09 PM
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purpleheart smells bad to me if it's fresher or if you burn it while cutting. Older doesn't seem as bad. Love me the smell of claro walnut, canarywood, tulipwood, cocobolo, tambooti (sandalwood). My all time favorite though is turning some Douglas Fir burl. Smells like you spilled a jar of Pinesol in your shop, but in a good way. Some times I have a leftover piece that has been in a box or drawer so long the only way I can tell what it is is by smell.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...

Last edited by sawdustfactory; 09-02-2011 at 10:44 PM. Reason: Oh, forgot something
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post #5 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sawdustfactory
purpleheart smells bad to me if it's fresher or if you burn it while cutting. Older doesn't seem as bad. Love me the smell of claro walnut, canarywood, tulipwood, cocobolo, tambooti (sandalwood). My all time favorite though is turning some Douglas Fir burl. Smells like you spilled a jar of Pinesol in your shop, but in a good way.
Douglas fir is on the top of my list too!
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post #6 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 10:41 PM
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Working at a sawmill years ago, you could tell what kind of log you were cuttiing into by the smell a lot of the time. The difference between red oak and white, the smell (good) of walnut, and that of sassafrass and cherry. Then you come to the sulfurous stench of cottonwood that had grown in the bottoms. Don't like gray elm either. Red elm wasn't so bad. And I swear I used to be able to decect a difference between hickory and pecan.
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post #7 of 27 Old 09-02-2011, 10:46 PM
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I love the sweet smell of cherry.
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post #8 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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wow, so many different types of smells. i don't think i could stand them rotten smells. i have to live with my shoes on just so i can breath. if i took my shoe of, i'd gag. now if my shop smelled similar to that just from a piece of wood, i would have big problems... it would be burned in a pit, at a friends house....lol

of all the things i have lost, i miss my mind the most
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post #9 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 10:29 AM
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My worste is spanish cedar. I have to work with it alot, and I can still taste it when I get home. I have noticed that if cypress is a little wet it has a fermented smell.
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post #10 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 10:46 AM
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Know what smells cool while cutting/drilling? Paduch. It smells like cotton candy or various confections. One of my brothers, who owns a cabinet shop, says the dust of paduch is "poisonous" to breathe. It that true? It sure is a pretty wood though.

And I agree about the Douglas Fir. My latest 'tradition' I've started last Christmas is to save some wood from our Christmas tree to make at least one ornament to go on future trees. That way a piece of each year's tree will be with us forever and used again each new Christmas.

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post #11 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 11:21 AM
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Cool idea, on the christmas tree. I have heard black walnut is poison.
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post #12 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 11:59 AM
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Neither paduak or walnut are "poisonous". Walnut contains a fungicide that will damage some plants and is harmful to horse' hooves. All wood dust can cause allergic reactions to those with sensitivities. Long term exposure may increase these sensitivities. Excessive exposure has been linked to respiratory diseases and cancer, but according to a pulmonologist friend, even serious hobbyists don't come near the levels of this.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #13 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doorguy
My worste is spanish cedar. I have to work with it alot, and I can still taste it when I get home. I have noticed that if cypress is a little wet it has a fermented smell.
An old cattle farmer once told me, in the winter he knows when a big storm is heading in, because his cattle will begin to eat from his cypress trees. He said it ferments faster in their bellys, producing more body heat.
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post #14 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 09:54 PM
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I've bought some square dowels at Home Depot that smelled a little fishyyyyyyyy

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post #15 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 10:21 PM
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If you're prone to wood sniffing, get you some mansonia. It smells like black pepper when you cut it.
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post #16 of 27 Old 09-03-2011, 10:41 PM
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I personally hate the smell of hickory. Meat tastes good smoked with it, but working it smells terrible. I like cherry, impartial toward walnut, and maple is alright. Hickory is the giveaway if my respirator isn't tightly sealed!

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post #17 of 27 Old 09-05-2011, 01:35 AM
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I was cutting veneer from a cherry burl today and got a little burn from the blade. Smelled amazing.
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post #18 of 27 Old 09-05-2011, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
If you're prone to wood sniffing, get you some mansonia. It smells like black pepper when you cut it.
I LOVE the smell of freshly ground peppercorns. I'm definitely a sniffer of the pepper. And of wood. I've never heard of mansonia. Just looked it up. Nice looking wood.
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post #19 of 27 Old 09-05-2011, 09:52 AM
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I love the smell of walnut when I'm working with it. Not too long ago though, I was working with some cedar and while cutting it, it smelled so bad that it made my eyes water. Turns out that I had eaten hot wings the night before and it was I that was cutting it. Really enjoyed those wings though.

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post #20 of 27 Old 09-14-2011, 12:01 PM
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It's too bad that some of the prettiest woods have the worst smells. I always find myself making comparisons:

Favorites: Padauk smells like a graham cracker. I love getting the chance to work with American Sassafras because it truly smells like root beer when you cut it.

Worst: Zebrawood. I'm starting to think it got it's name because it smells like a zebra.
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