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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have various pieces of wood that I would like to identify while I still remember what species they are (which kind of wood). Some of the wood is thin almost veneer. I am looking for the best way to mark the boards that will stay on the boards, maybe for months or even years. The marking tools:

* Must be easy to read on dark and light woods. I might need more than one color to mark different woods.
* Must be readable for at least 10 years, despite some handling as it gets moved around.
* Must be easy to remove, whether a few days from now or a few years from now.
* Must stay on the surface of the wood (not soak down into the wood).
* Must not stain or damage the wood.

I have seen grease pencils, china markers, Sharpies, ordinary pencils, fat lead pencils, carpenters pencils, and lots more. I wonder whether the grease in grease pencils "soak" into the wood over time and whether they are hard to remove.

-> What do you use and recommend?
 

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depends on the thickness ...

I color code hard to identify species with spray paint on the end grain and then make a chart for the color code on pieces that are thick enough for that method. For thinner pieces I use painter's tape with a sharpie labeled as to species. Often you can determine a species by just looking at the color and grain patterns. Dating a piece would have to be done on a label.
 
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I wish I had implemented some kind of system a couple of years ago !!
I amplified my lathe hobby and started ordering all kinds of turning stock
from on-line sources. storing them in little cubicles with a simple note
on them. well, as you can expect, over the months, all the notes got
mixed up and now I have several dozen pieces of beautiful turning blanks
that I have no idea what they are !!

so whatever you go with, you have to have a foolproof method of cross referencing if you really want to keep it identified for years to come.
[I actually have a vintage plastic label maker and didn't use it.
I could have stapled the labels to the blanks. but nooooo . . . I used the paper tag].
 

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I recently bought several boards of "exotic" woods from someone, & some had adhesive address labels on them, with the name of the species written on them. The labels are easy to peel off, & mineral spirits will take off any adhesive residue.

A few were marked with what appeared to be lumber crayon, which I was not as happy with, as the pigment got a bit into the wood pores. Not a big deal, but I'd prefer the paper labels for my purposes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I have learned that over time, tape and labels dry out and fall off. The writing on them somehow changes to a blur or fades to invisible. Often they get detached from bumping, scraping, and rubbing.

I am looking for a solution where I can write directly on the boards with something that will be easy to read 10 years from now, but won't soak into the wood fibers. It must be easy to remove when the time comes to use the wood.

P.S. I will be going to the art supply store later this morning. They may have what I need. I will look for the Staedtler Chinagraph 808 or their equivalents here. Research has been challenging - are they "Lumograph permanent 108" here in the US? Hopefully the people at the store can clarify my choices. Stay tuned.
 

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The saw mill a few miles away uses a system of colored paint and number of stripes. I suppose it works for him, but unless there is a uniform system, the code will be lost the second you forget. I use a blotch of cheap light paint and then write the species on the painted spot.
 

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I wish I had implemented some kind of system a couple of years ago !!
I amplified my lathe hobby and started ordering all kinds of turning stock
from on-line sources. storing them in little cubicles with a simple note
on them. well, as you can expect, over the months, all the notes got
mixed up and now I have several dozen pieces of beautiful turning blanks
that I have no idea what they are !!

so whatever you go with, you have to have a foolproof method of cross referencing if you really want to keep it identified for years to come.
[I actually have a vintage plastic label maker and didn't use it.
I could have stapled the labels to the blanks. but nooooo . . . I used the paper tag].

A label Maker is an essential tool for me these days. I use it to mark every thing from electrical cords and chargers to putting labels on my files.


It would be excellent for marking wood. All my small parts bins are labled using one.l They are far more sophisticated tha than the one pictured. And, relatively inexpensive


George
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I would worry that even water resistant sticky notes might get separated from their boards over time.

I looked for the Staedtler Chinagraph 808 permanent pencils, but they seem to have a different name here. They may be STAEDTLER Lumocolor permanent glasochrom 108 pencils.

The well-stocked art supply store did not have them, nor were they prepared to recommend anything for labelling wood. They showed me a few things, and I bought sample colored pencils that looked the most promising. They were Faber-Castell Goldfaber colored pencils. The information board at the store said:

* Highly pigmented 3.3 mm lead
* Made in Germany
* High break resistance
* Soft, vibrant color laydown
* Water-resistant and smudge proof
* Excellent lightfastness

Even though they sounded like ideal characteristics for labeling wood, they did not work out very well. I bought four pencils for $1 apiece in assorted colors that I thought would stand out from dark and light woods. I bought black (199), white (101), scarlet red (118), and light phthalo green (162). I tested them on a piece of ordinary paper, and there was no bleed through.

http://www.fabercastell.com/products/coloured-pencil/Goldfabercolorpencilblack/114799
(See the color chart at the bottom of the web page.)

I had to press much harder than I wanted to get a good mark on the wood. The pencils felt somewhat waxy when used. The marks were not easy to see on many woods. Sometimes none of the four colors was very good.

I tried sanding the marks off the poplar, and it smeared the color across the wood. (See the photo, where I tried to show the red smearing on top part of the poplar.) With enough sanding or a courser grit, I could get it off, but it should not have smeared, and I would have expected less effort for something as soft as poplar.

I am including a photo where I tried the pencils on assorted wood.

Summary: These Faber-Castell pencils are NOT the solution to my problem. I have not found the answer yet.
 

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Traditional inks...

Oldest I've seen was on a timber in an attic...at 650 years old and still easy to read on dark oak.

Sands off without issue. Inks have been used to mark wood (in several cultures) for millenia. They come in different colors as well if one really needs this...Black seems to be more than enough for all but the darkest species, then simple white tempera (aka egg paint) with black ink lettering solves that issue...
 
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