Woods

Different Species, Same Woodworking Skills
  • Siberian Elm SwatchSiberian Elm (aka Chinese Elm)
    Siberian ElmWhatever name you use for it, we all recognize the never-ending elm trees that Clyde Tingley bestowed on this state back in the 1950s. Large, twiggy, very messy trees with lots of leaves, copious drifts of seed pods, and a distinct tendency to creep into the plumbing any chance they get. Notoriously hard to kill, and alarmingly easy to propagate, these trees are often cursed as a never-ending battle to recover ground in the yards and gardens of Albuquerque. This is one of the hard elms, so the wood is very durable and shows excellent depth and shine when sanded to a high grit. Prone to birdseyes, but mostly a cool ash brown color, it looks great in rustic or refined projects. For a quick read on Albuquerque's elm trees, read this article from City Forester Joran Viers.
  • Siberian Elm SwatchAsh (Green or White)
    Ash WoodAsh is a fantastic tree for making great lumber. The wood is hard, and dense, and has a pale coloring on a distinctive wood grain. It is super for indoor or outdoor furniture, decorative items, and of course baseball bats! Ash's light tone makes it an ideal candidate for dyes and stains, you can make it look like just about any wood you'd like! **link to Dwayne Sperber's article about uses for ash**
  • Locust WoodLocust (Honey or Black)
    Locust WoodLocust trees are a favorite planting in Albuquerque. They do well in our climate, they make beautiful and often fragrant masses of flowers in the spring, and their distinctive leafy canopies and mature stature make them excellent and attractive shade trees. The wood from locust trees has a very hard, slightly open grain – not unlike red oak. The pale sapwood makes a pleasing contrast with the heartwood's warm, pleasing earth tone of honey locust, and the cooler, more varied palette of the black locust. Both are quite durable as lumber. Use honey locust wherever you might use oak. The black locust is ideal for decking and outdoor applications, but is less common in our area.
  • Sycamore / Plane TreeSycamore / Plane Tree
    Sycamore / Plane TreeUnder all that wonderful shade and coolness, these trees are hiding a surprisingly versatile wood for all kinds of woodworking. The fine, even grain is easy on your tools, the hardness is equivalent to rock maple, and the visual appeal of sycamore is hard to beat. Quarter sawn sycamore gives a snakeskin pattern to rival Leopard Wood and Live Oak for a flashy natural pattern! Another pale wood that can be stained, dyed, or left in its beautiful natural coloration, sycamore is a real joy to work with.
  • Russian OliveRussian Olive
    Russian OliveA non-native tree with a history of preventing floods and soaking up a great deal of water, the Russian Olive is another ringer among the abundant local trees. Alive, it is a shaggy and unpromising tree. Milled and dried, it becomes Rio Grande Walnut. Rich chocolatey coloration with surprisingly little variation, distinctive grain, and remarkably lightweight wood, this is perhaps the best of the darker woods available locally.
  • Salt CedarSalt Cedar (aka Tamarisk)
    Salt CedarLike the Russian Olive, this is a tree we see as a pest species. It's shrubby, ornery, and unbelievably difficult to eradicate. For all that, we deserve to get a little something back... and we do! The wood is a lovely soft warm color, often pink when fresh cut, eventually oxidizing down to a mellow tan shade. It's not going to give us a great deal of board lumber, but for small woodworking projects, accent material, and woodturning, it's real winner.
  • MulberryMulberry
    MulberryMulberry has much in common with its cousin Osage Orange aka Bois D'arc, beginning with the color of the wood – a richly yellow heartwood and bright white sapwood. The durability of this wood is legendary, and particularly suited to bentwood applications. It has an extraordinarily long fiber, which means it can bend and even twist without splintering or breaking. It's very durable in outdoor applications. Over time, the bright yellow wood mellows down to a neutral medium brown.
  • Non Fruiting treesNon-Fruiting Fruit Trees
    Non Fruiting TreesNon-Fruiting Fruit Trees (Bradford Pear, Purple Plum, ornamental Cherry, some Apples) have similar grain and figure to their fruit-bearing cousins, but often have extraordinary qualities of hardness, fineness, and color variation. The Bradford pear especially makes wood well suited to fine woodworking, with its tight, even grain, delicate coloration, and appealing density. Great for furniture!
  • CottonwoodCottonwood
    CottonwoodYes, Cottonwood! This softest of hardwoods is a member of the poplar family, and shares some of those characteristics: delightful chatoyancy (reflective tiger-eye quality), rich variety of blond tones, and a tendency toward quilting. It's lightweight, if somewhat fuzzy. Better suited to sanded finishes than chiseled / cut surfacing. Makes a great accent on a decorative project.
  • HackberryHackberry
    HackberryHackberry is ideal for indoor furniture and decor. Visually very similar to ash, hackberry turns well, and can be stained or simply given a lustrous polished surface. Great for steam bending.
  • MapleMaple
    MapleAlbuquerque doesn't have a lot of Maple trees, but those we do have offer great texture. When dead, these trees are very prone to spalting, getting that characteristic marble-like black thread throughout the wood. We have Silverleaf, Red, and other maples, although millable sections are relatively rare.
  • Catalpa - CatawabCatalpa / Catawba
    Catalpa - CatawbaA beautiful wood with striking grain pattern that offers a mellow brown two-tone when finished. Catalpa also offers great chatoyancy (reflective tiger-eye quality). This wood has a somewhat open grain, with notable hardness variation between the early wood (narrow, darker rings) and late wood (wide, lighter in color). Some have compared it to Butternut (White Walnut). It's beautiful in both plank applications and turned objects.
  • PoplarPoplar
    PoplarA beautiful wood with striking grain pattern that offers a mellow brown two-tone when finished. Catalpa also offers great chatoyancy (reflective tiger-eye quality). This wood has a somewhat open grain, with notable hardness variation between the early wood (narrow, darker rings) and late wood (wide, lighter in color). Some have compared it to Butternut (White Walnut). It's beautiful in both plank applications and turned objects.
  • Western CedarWestern Cedar
    Western CedarThis pale, non-aromatic wood has a clearer grain than most of our softwoods, although the widest pieces tend to be on the shorter side. Slabs make great coffee tables and small cabinetry projects, while small boards are great for grilling fish. Nice for carving, turning, and other ornamental applications. Good beginner's wood.
  • JuniperOne-Seed Juniper
    JuniperOften taken for Eastern Cedar, this aromatic wood with high contrast and dynamic grain pattern works well in all kinds of projects, from birdhouses and drawer linings to garden benches and decorative plaques. Our city-grown trees are typically on the narrow side, which means we see many features and a wild live edge.
  • Ponderosa PinePonderosa Pine
    Western CedarGraded white pine is an absolute standard of softwood construction. When it is highly featured as it is here, it is great for rustic furniture and decor as well as backing and support uses. Durable and easy to work with, the typical broad grain and pale color make this a reliable favorite for lightweight projects. Ours often contains an attractive blue stain.