About Woodworks

A Woodworks Guide

These are some of the exotic and native woods that Michael uses in his sculptures.
Additional characteristics of the wood are taken from Dictionary of Shrubs & Trees by author Ted Andrews, from his book, Nature Speak.


Arborvitae Woodwork Sample

A species native to North America and Asia; a member of the cypress family. The wood can be either white or red in color. It is light, soft, and aromatic but resistant to decay. The bark is stringy textured reddish-brown. The wood is non-resinous, straight grained and has prominent growth ring features. It is lighter weight with coarse texture and brittleness. The wood is used for shingles, fence-posts and to repel moths.


Ash Wood Work Sample

Ash can be found throughout North America, Europe and Japan. American ash is gray-brown with a reddish tinge; European ash is cream white to light brown, sometimes with a dark-brown to black heartwood known as “olive ash”. The wood is straight-grained and coarse in texture. Used primarily for bending, the wood is medium weight, durable but perishable. Ash has often been the tree of protection and has a spirit that awakens great strength. It reminds us to move forward with gentleness and strength. It is the universal source of light and life energy, amplifying the innate abilities of the individual.

Birch, White

Birch White wood work sample

A species native to North America. It is a soft, moderately heavy white wood, used as much for its bark as its wood. It is flexible and strong, but lives a shorter life. The bark is chalky to cream white and can be tinged with yellow. It peels in thin, film-like layers. Used by Native Americans for canoe building, it could carry twenty times their weight. The birch staff historically was used to awaken energies within, and was renewed each year through ceremony. It reminds us that new dimensions are opening and that balance is necessary for the greatest success in these opportunities.

Birch, Grey

Birch Grey wood work sample

A species native to North America. It is a common pioneer species for abandoned fields, but does not live long. It produces a flexible grey, white lumber and its bark is chalky to grey-white with black patches near branches. It does not peel easily.


Birch, Black

Birch Black wood work sample

A species native to eastern North America, and was used for production of wintergreen. It is prized for its hard, heavy wood. The mature black bark was at younger stages, medium brown to red brown. Strong and resilient, it is used in furniture and flooring.


Black Walnut

Black Walnut wood work sample

A valuable hardwood lumber, it is native to the Midwest & North America. Brown on the surface, the heartwood matures into a rich dark brown to purplish-black color with a somewhat course, but uniform texture. It is usually straight-grained, but can be wavy or curly, with medium density. The walnut nut was used for digestive imbalances, and the oil for Native American ceremonies. The tree is a sign of initiating; awakening the freedom of spirit.


Bloodwood wood work sample

A dark red wood from South America. The wood may darken slightly with age, but not of significance. The wood is very dense, with a tight fine, almost linear grain. It is less stable and may twist or warp if not secured.



Bubinga Wood work sample

With an appearance similar to the mineral tiger-eye, it can be light brown to dark brown and red, with sometimes an almost purple hue. It is found in Africa and central Africa. The wood is often used for instruments due to its mellow sound and its grain is straight to interlocked.


Catalpa or Catawba

Catalpa or Catawba wood work sample

The name derives from the Catawba Native American name catawba for these trees (the tribal totem). There are two North American species, as well as a species from China.
The wood of catalpas is quite soft and brittle, but resistant to rot. Occasionally used as a tonewood in guitars, the tree grows quickly and is known for its leaves and seed pods.


Cedar wood work sample

The resinous heartwood is light brown in color with a prominent growth-ring. Deodar cedar is straight-grained, however, Atlantic & Lebanon cedars are usually knotty with grain disturbance. The texture of the wood is generally fine, and is medium weight. The wood has medium bending strength, but is low in other strength properties. All cedars have a fragrance that is cleansing and protecting. Native Americans use it for purification properties. A staff made from cedar has the energy of protection, and can help heal imbalances of an emotional or astral nature.

Cedar, White

Cedar, white wood work sample

A species native to Northern New England, Canada, and Upper Midwest the wood has very thin fibrous bark and contains a high level of oil. It is rot and termite resistant and extremely slow growing. The light colored wood is used for poles, fence posts, shingles and other structural elements. Early American cities used the wood for water pipes, because it would not decay in soil and kept water supplies healthier.


Cherry wood work sample

A species native to both Europe, North America and North Africa it has creamy-pink sapwood. The maturing heartwood, from pale pinkish brown to red-brown, may have narrow brown pith flecks. The wood is straight grained with a fairly fine, even texture and is medium to heavier weight. It has medium bending strength and is used in cabinets and furniture making. The cherry has been symbolic of new awakenings & insight, and its blossom thought to enable the release of parts of the ego that are preventing individual growth.


Chestnut wood work sample

Representative of eight or nine species, it is native to temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Moderate to fast growing, the furrowed mature bark is red-brown for the American species and grey for the European species. The heartwood is a straw to brown color resembling oak, and distinct from the narrow sapwood. The wood has prominent growth rings but finer rays, which differs from oak on flat surfaces. The grain is straight but often spiral with a course texture and medium heavy weight. It is a medium density wood that carries moisture and has low bending strength.


Fir wood work sample

There are about 48-55 species of this softwood. It is found in North and Central America, Europe, Asia and North Africa. The wood is unsuitable for timber use, and quite often used as pulp for plywood and indoor use only. The sapwood is slightly lighter than the heartwood which is a light reddish-brown. The grain is mostly straight, but can be wavy or spiral, with medium texture and weight.


Hemlock wood work sample

The species is found in North America and Asia. It has a high root system and thin bark make it a vulnerable tree. The bark at maturity may be cinnamon red, reddish brown or brown, with a large tannin content that was used to tan leather and sheepskin. The wood is important in the timber industry, especially used as wood pulp. It is a course, rough softwood with an open grain which can warp and split. It is light in weight and in color.

Lacewood, Australian

Lacewood Australian wood work sample

Medium to light brown to orange brown in color, it is soft to medium in density. The wood is known for its fascinating appearance. When cut correctly, it shows many cross sections of cells distributed evenly over the surface. It is not as dense as oak or hard maple and is difficult to dry. The wood is fairly stable, but may cup more than other wood due to the texture of the cells.


Mahogany wood work sample

The tree has a reddish-brown heartwood, with a straight or interlocked grain, which produces a striped figure on quartered surfaces. It is of medium density, but heavy and strong. It has low bending strength and excellent for stability. It is used for furniture, cabinets, boat building, staircases and is cut for plywood.



Maple wood work sample

Over 125 species primarily common to Asia, but also North American, Europe & Northern Africa. Considered a tone-wood, it carries sound well and is used in drums and instruments. Some wood has a highly decorative grain, unseen until the wood is cut. The wood has medium density and the grain is varied, depending on species. Maple trees balance the yin and yang, the electrical and magnetic. Its essence grounds us so that our spiritual energy has a practical means of expressing itself within our lives.

Maple, Rock

Maple Rock wood work sample

One of the most valuable wood growing east of the Canadian Rockies and northern and eastern U.S. The wood is creamy-white with a reddish tinge; sometimes a dark brown heart. The wood is relatively heavy with medium density. The grain is usually straight, but can be curly or wavy and the texture is even & fine.


Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel wood work sample

Native to Eastern North America, the plant is poisonous to livestock but the hardwood was used for many years in spoon making. It is easily confused with bay laurel trees, prominent in history. It is a broadleaf evergreen native to Eastern US and west to Louisiana. The roots
are fibrous and matted.

Oak, Red

Oak, Red wood work sample

Native to eastern Canada and North America, there is considerable variation in the quality of red oak, depending where it grows. The grain is usually straight and southern red oak is more coarse than northern red oak. The heartwood varies from medium pink to reddish-brown. The wood is heavy and dense and is used for domestic flooring, furniture parts and veneers. Oak trees provide strength to everyone and remind us that true strength is also gentle. It provides for endurance and security, through its inner energy.

Oak, White

Oak, White wood work sample

More than 200 species that occur in Europe, Middle East, North Africa, eastern US, southeastern Canada and Japan. The sapwood is lighter than the heartwood, which is light tan or yellow-brown. It is usually straight grained, but can have irregular cross grain. The wood is heavy with moderately coarse texture and is very dense. The wood is ideal for furniture and cabinetmaking, flooring, boat & harbor work.

Oak, Reclaimed

Oak, Reclaimed wood work sample

As oak is reclaimed, the scars and impurities are testimony to the wood’s history. It will have more of the naturally reoccurring wood character such as knots, distinct color variation, possible insect marks, surface checking and varying grain patterns.



Paduk wood work sample

Native to central and west Africa, the wood is heavy and very dense. When freshly cut, the heartwood is very distinctive. It is blood-red maturing to dark purple-brown with red streaks. The sapwood is straw colored. The grain is straight to interlocked and the texture varies from moderate to very coarse. It is famous as a dye wood and used extensively in cabinets, furniture and knife and tool handles, boats and flooring.

Pine, Native

Pine, Native wood work sample

Extensive variety of species, most native to North America & Canada and introduced elsewhere. Depending on species the sapwood can range from white to pinkish to pale straw to pale red-brown. The heartwood is slightly darker, or can contrast to the wood.

It is generally straight grained, with an even uniform texture, which can be coarse. It is light to medium weight and low density. Used in construction, furniture, cabinets and boats. The pine’s essence helps to alleviate pain and soothes emotions. It balances strength and softness and offers emotional protection and healing. It reminds us to express our creative energies without guilt and without undue influence.

Pine, Southern Yellow

Pine, Southern Yellow wood work sample

Native to North America, the sapwood is white and the heartwood varies from a light straw brown to a light reddish brown. It is straight grained with a very fine and even texture and relatively light weight. Because of its low shrinkage and extreme stability, it is well suited for very fine detail work. Specialized uses include musical instrument parts, ship and boat making, cabinet and furniture making.


Poplar wood work sample

Native to the northern hemisphere, the tree grows extremely fast. The bark has a high tannic acid content and is used in Europe for tanning leather. It is used for pulp wood and in paper manufacturing. It is extremely flexible and is used in musical instruments. The wonderful spirit of this tree teaches the individual how to make projects and dreams manifest quickly, yielding rewards in the shortest time possible. It has helped overcome personal fears and self doubts that may block our endeavors. It encourages us to the many avenues of manifesting dreams.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart wood work sample

A tropical wood found from Mexico to Southern Brazil. The tree produces a light cream lumber but the heartwood turns bright purple when it is exposed to light. It can also mature to a dark purple brown hue. It may be straight or wavy grained and relatively heavy in density.


River Larch

River Larch wood work sample

There are 10-14 species located within the coldest regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is tough, waterproof and durable; the timber is knot free and resistant to decay. The wood is heavy and dense and has a whitish cast for the first few years, but will then turn black with weather exposure. The sap is particularly resinous and coupled with the air and heat of the sun, will produce a kind of bright varnish. The lumber is used in rough construction, railroad ties and wood piles. The larch has been used historically by ancient people for its power of fertility and creation as well as self recreation and discovery.


Rosewood wood work sample

The species is native to Brazil, but is also found in the US and UK. The heartwood is a rich brown color with variegated streaks of golden to chocolate-brown; from violet to purple-black which contrasts sharply from the cream-colored sapwood. The grain is mostly straight to wavy with a course texture. The wood is gritty to the touch and has a mild fragrance. Honduras rosewood has pinkish to purple-brown heartwood with irregular black markings. It is straight-grained with a medium to fine texture. Both woods are heavy and dense. Its use is in quality furniture, cabinets, wood carving and musical instrument s.

Evergreen Shrub

With their year round foliage, these are the choice for privacy hedges. There are also broad leaf evergreen shrubs such as holly and azalea. False cypress, yews, euonymus, boxwood, loropetalum, and rhododendron are a few examples.


Spruce wood work sample

There are about 35 species of spruce found in the northern temperate regions of the globe. Spruce is one of the most important woods for paper manufacture, as its long fibers bind together easily. Often called whitewood, it is generally white, more elastic, less resinous and consequently lighter. When in the open it can be very knotty, but in denser forests it is fine and even-grained. The wood is used in aircraft and specialized musical instruments and interior construction, as it is not decay resistant. The wood is straight grained and is fairly course. Spruce is effective in awakening- understanding self; it stimulates dreams and provides guidance and focus. It amplifies healing and is calming to the emotions.


Vines wood work sample

A climbing or trailing plant, a vine is a stick form based on long stems. Most vines are flowering plants and can be divided into woody vines or lianas. There are some tropical vines that grow away from light, which allows the vine to reach a tree, and then can climb to brighter regions. Certain plants always grow as vines, while a few grow as vines only part of the time.


Wenge wood work sample

Originates in the Congo with a closely related wood being from Mozambique. The sapwood is whitish and clearly defined from the heartwood, which is dark brown with close black veining and alternate closely spaced whitish banks of light and dark tissue.
It is decorative, straight grained with an irregular and coarse texture. The wood is heavy and dense. It has high natural resistance to abrasion, and is excellent for flooring.


Willow wood work sample

A fast growing tree, with a bitter and astringent bark. Several species include both trees and shrubs. The tree is water loving, and the wood is soft, pliant and tough. The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size and tenacity of life. Willow is grow for biofuel in energy forest systems and used in the manufacture of boxes, brooms, furniture, paper and rope. The willow signifies “convolution” and thus an association of many energies, particularly of healing. It is of flexible spirit, and alerts us to new opportunities to learn and explore.


Zebra wood work sample

The wood, known as Zebrano, is imported from Central Africa. The heartwood is a pale golden yellow, distinct from the very pale color of the sapwood and features narrow streaks of dark brown to black. It can also be a pale brown with regular or irregular marks of dark brown in varying widths. It is a hard heavy wood, with a course texture. The grain is interlocked or wavy. It is considered a threatened species and is used for decorative purposes and in exotic guitars.

Wood photos courtesy of HobbitHouseInc.com