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My intent here is to provide reviews of all the books in my library on wood identification but I've done only a few so far. For a more extensive list of books AND other information (web links, etc) on how to identify woods, see


This is a list of most of the books that I have in my library, with links to the
Amazon purchasing page plus links to the few reviews that I HAVE done and

Although I intend to have this section alphabetic for ease of reference, I put the Hoadley books at the top because they just don't have any rivals and I have not done specific reviews of them. They are THE books to get if you are interested in wood characteristics and wood identification.

Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley --- Hoadley is "the man" when it comes to scholarly works on wood these days. This book will tell you pretty much everything you could want to know about wood, what the various parts of trees are and how they work together as the tree grows and how the characteristics of the micro level constituents contribute to the macro characteristics of the wood.

Identifying Wood: Accurate Results With Simple Tools by R. Bruce Hoadley --- This is another of Hoadley's scholarly works and it is focused, as the title clearly states, on what you need to know to identify wood. It is an outstanding work.

----- Also Particularly Recommended: -----

A Guide to Useful Woods of the World by James H. Flynn Jr. and Charles D. Holder (The International Wood Collector's Society) and the sequel A Guide to More Useful Woods of the World --- The first has 280 woods and the second another 70. The second has several good articles. There are two pages of info on each wood (so lots of info) and two pics: a face grain and an end grain. The face grain is taken at a good distance and is useful for seeing what a plank would look like. The end grain pics might be good for a Wood Anatomist, but for the average woodworker, they are much too micro and not very useful.

Wood! Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide by Eric Meier --- an excellent book on wood and wood ID. Full review at Review of Wood!

----- The rest of the pack -----

100 Woods by Peter Bishop --- Better that most such. Two pages per wood AND contains all three views (flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain). Unfortunately, the flat cut and quartersawn pics are too up-close so that they do a great job of showing the details but give very little sense of what a plank would look like.

The Book of Wood Names by Dr. Hans Meyer --- A dated work (1936) that is not as comprehensive as you would think when you first leaf through a copy, and it does have some errors, but it is the most comprehensive hard-copy publication that I know of that lists wood names.

Characteristics, Properties and Uses of Timbers, South-east Asia, Northern Australia and the Pacific, Volume 1 by W.G. Keating and Eleanor Bolza --- gives description and characteristics for over 300 woods from the areas mentioned but only has about 30 pics and those are generally good, full page pics, but are taken too up-close so they don't really give a good feel for what a plank would look like.

The Commercial Woods of Africa by Peter Phongphaew --- about 180 African woods, one page per wood, ordered by common name. Pics are good but have been taken too up-close thus giving a good sense of the graininess of the wood but not a good sense of what a plank would look like, thus a bit hard to use for wood ID.

The Encyclopedia of Wood by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture --- this is NOT a wood ID book; rather it is a massive compendium of things about the properties of wood in general and lots of details on how wood is used. It does have some brief descriptions (no pics) of of a few dozen specific woods but that's not its thrust at all.

The Encyclopedia of Wood: A Tree-By-Tree Guide To The World's Most Versatile Resource edited by Aidan Walker and published by Facts on File Inc. Full review at: Review of The Encyclopedia of Wood

Good Wood Handbook by Albert Jackson and David Day. Full review at: Review of Good Wood Handbook but NOTE: the book linked to is NOT the one I have (the first edition), but the second edition which does not appear to be quite the same book (the blurb says "completely revised") so I don't know that my comments still hold.

What Wood is That? (A Manual Of Wood Identification) by Herbert L. Edlin --- A so-so discussion of wood characteristics and tree identification, BUT it has little pieces of veneer actually in the book for 40 commonly available woods (both domestic and exotic), which is a great help with wood ID for those particular woods.

World Woods in Color by William A. Lincoln. Full review at: Review of World Woods in Color

The Wood Book by Romeyn Beck Hough --- This is an astounding (and USEFUL) work. Full review at: Review of The Wood Book

Wood Identification & Use by Terry Porter --- a good selection of about 200 fairly common woods of the world with emphasis on those in North America, listed in alphabetical order of the botanical names, one page per wood. Pics are generally pretty good. but NOTE: the book linked to is NOT the one I have, it is the "revised and expanded" version, so I don't know that my comments still hold.

Woodworker's Guide to Wood by Rick Peters --- a brief, preliminary review is at Review of Woodworker's Guide to Wood