At the woodworking shows, Ron Herman, who contributes articles to 360 Woodworking on a regular basis and is the person behind Woodworkingwithron.com, puts out a smorgasbord of wood samples for show-goers and his class attendees to sample – he teaches a paid seminar each day of the show on understanding wood. If you’re in or around Kansas City this coming weekend (April 8 – 10, 2016), it’s worth the trip to see his collection.
He has everything from locust (with and without sapwood) to wood with an encapsulated knot to spalted sycamore and ambrosia maple. There’s almost every color under the rainbow, including red oak, red elm, black walnut, white oak, yellow pine and purple heart. He even has a piece of lyptus.
Of all his goods, the one that I like best to examine is a slab of cherry he sits out every week. (Click on the photo for a closer look.) If you take a look at it, you notice small hairline cracks that encompass the outer ring of the tree.
What caused the cracks? According to Ron they were caused by lightning. I find it interesting that the cracks are easily seen around the outside of the tree, just under the bark, but if you look close you can see that cracks do radiate in toward the center, too.
According to Ron, lightning sometimes causes the bark to explode off the tree; you often find sheets of bark on the ground. On his slab the bark is intact, which could mean that the strike was late in the year. You often don’t see examples such as this. Also, it goes without saying that this is not wood you should use at your lathe.
(If you want to learn more from Ron, visit his website (listed above), or pick up a membership to 360 Woodworking in which Ron has discussed chisels, plane, saws and other hand tools in his many video-based articles.)