Identifying old wood (iii) a case study on chestnut

Pulling apart the mantle in the living room to replace it with one made of cherry, I thought, hey, why not check to see if it is chestnut. The first sign that the wood seemed different was that it felt light weight. So chestnut is most similar to oak. One of the biggest differences is weight – chestnut is about 60% the weight of white oak. So I thought I would take an initial check and calculate the weight of a piece of it. The weights were in the table I made in the previous post. By first measuring the volume, and weight of the piece of the wood: 9.9in³ and 0.1742 lbs, it is then possible to calculate the relative weight in lbs/ft³. This turned out to be 30.39 lbs/ft³, which equates well with the weight of chestnut.


Now to confirm this involves looking at some of the macro features of the piece of wood. The first thing to notice is that there are no visible rays, which implies that it is not of the oak family. Here’s a photo showing the growth rings in the block of wood. There is an abrupt change from earlywood to latewood, and the pores become extremely small.

A close-up view confirms the lack of rays, or rather the rays are not visible (usually one cell wide). The pores are also oval in shape, and has visible tyloses, which is consistent with what should exist in a piece of chestnut.

What to do with the chestnut once I have salvaged it? Likely I will use the wood in a small chest of some sort.





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