A Rose by Any Other Name

I used to play a game with my kids, and we called it “What kind of wood is that?” They would look at a piece of furniture and guess, and eventually, they got pretty good at it. Which explains why when on a tour of a museum display of marquetry furniture in Italy, my daughter was able to identify Carpathian elm burl for the gobsmacked docent.

But names for wood species are often regional and quirky. My dad called red elm by the elegant nom de plume of “piss elm.” In the southeastern parts of this country, yellow poplar is often called tulipwood. Aspen here in Minnesota is referred to as poplar or sometimes popple (and “white wood” when sold in big box stores). I think I’ve made my point.

My question for you is, what kind of local or quirky names for wood have you heard of or use? I’d love to see them, and of course, we will share them in our Feedback section.

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

Wall-mounted Panel Press

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