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GUM

Liquidambar styraciflua


NOTE: the name "gum" alone is not actually correct for this wood, but the "two" woods represented here are the sapwood (sweet gum) and heartwood (red gum) of the same tree, and my automated HTML processing program could only combine the two if I put them all under the name "gum". See the Fact Sheet for further discussion of the "gum" name (it's a mess!)



my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of sweet gum / Liquidambar styraciflua --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet gum / Liquidambar styraciflua --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


sweet gum plank and end grain. This is a piece from a wood sample set I bought and it was labled "sap gum", which is consistent with the various ways that the gum name is used. It seems representative based on what I've read, in that it has the fairly smooth creamy appearance generally ascribed to sweet gum (aka sap gum).


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- despite poor sanding on the left side, the fine grain detail is quite clear on the middle and right areas


NOT a raw wood color
section of a sweet gum table top showing a little little white rot spalting with some of the areas having black lines around the white rot. I doubt the finish changed the color much. HUGE enlargements are present


sample plank and end grain sold to me as sweetgum / Liquidambar styraciflua --- I'm not really sure whether this is heartwood (red gum) or sapwood (sweet gum), but based on the density shown in the end grain (particularly the closeup directly below) I lean towards believing that it's heartwood (red gum). Color is quite accurate.


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a plank, generously contributed to the site by John Saxon of The Cedar Store, of what is generally called "figured red gum". It is (mostly, except for the edges) the heartwood of the sweet gum tree, which makes it "red gum" and when it has those spiky colored areas, it is called "figured".


a closeup of the plank directly above


red gum sample plank and end grain cut from the larger piece shown above


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the sample plank directly above


figured red gum pics submitted by John Saxon of The Cedar Store --- this plank is from the same batch as the one that produced the sample directly above but these pics were taken in bright daylight which is probably why the sapwood shows up lighter here and the red is less pronounced in his pics.


some small red gum planks and the end grain closeup of them all --- these were cut by a Florida sawyer. Closeups of the face grain on a couple of them are below


END GRAIN UPDATE of one of the pieces directly above (I think this is from the other end than what's shown above)


closeups of the face grain on a couple of the small sample planks from the set directly above


both sides of a couple of pieces made by cutting one somewhat larger piece (shown below) in half. The first pic shows bookmatched along the length. All of these pics have HUGE enlargements available. There is a light curl on one surface and you can see it on the end grain shot below.


end grain shot of both of the pieces directly above. If you look carefully at the right side of each piece (particularly the one on the left) you can see the curl. The pic on the right is the larger piece that I cut in half and on it the curl is even easier to see.


end grain closeups of both pieces directly above.


END GRAIN UPDATEs of both pieces directly above


two planks and a closeup --- this and the next three sets below were all from the same vendor, same lot, and thus presumably, same tree. I was very disappointed in the washed-out color of these pieces. To see why, look directly below:


the pic posted on ebay of these planks. The vendor DID state that this pic had the wood moistened with mineral spirits, but I do not believe that could account for the vibrant red in this pic (check out the enlargement which really shows it strongly), which is totally missing from the wood, as you can see in all of my pics which are accurate in color.


two planks and a closeup


two planks and a closeup showing some black-line spalting


two planks and a closeup


plank and end grain --- this was cut from one of the larger planks above


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- the update has shoddy sanding in the upper right area but the fine grain detail is clear in the rest of the pic.


plank and end grain --- this was cut from one of the larger planks above


end grain closeup of the piece directly above



The pieces in this section, both the wood that I photographed and the later crotch and slab pics, were contributed to the site by Funktionhouse, whom I thank for this and many other contributions to the site. This is "blackheart" sweetgum, which is just regular sweetgum tree heart (so redgum, actually) that has aged in a way that makes it much darker and grayer than usual. It MAY be more due to soil conditions (mineral absorption) than aging but that is just a guess on my part.


both sides of a 4" long sample


face grain closeup of the piece directly above


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


crotch slab and closeup


two views of a slab


carved bowl of blackheart sweetgum burl --- I think there's likely too much pink in the pic

end blackheart sweetgum









These are two pics of the same plank, the first sanded to 180 grit but dry and the second with the surface moistened with paint thinner. These pics were submitted by Bob Konigsberg who knows the wood as "liquidamber" which is a "common name" that is just the name of the botanical genus. Bob tells me the gray color is accurate and they look reasonable to me, although a bit deeper gray than I have previously seen in red gum. Thank you Bob, for these pics and other information. LATER NOTE: I now see that this is identical to the blackheart sweetgum (directly above) contributed by Funktionhouse, thus the dark grayish color.


red gum veneer. Note that red gum with this degree of color variety is sometimes sold as "figured" red gum.


red gum veneer


red gum veneer and a closeup


red gum veneer


more figured red gum veneer; two long sheets and a couple of closeups of same. The very rich color is quite accurate --- these are beautiful sheets


red gum veneer from another lot --- colors are accurate


veneer


This veneer sheet of American red gum was loaned to me by John Koehn whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


spalted sweet gum veneer --- I've never seen spalted gum veneer offered commercially; I got this in a mixed box of veneer cutoffs from a jewlery box maker who makes some of his own veneer in his shop from odd pieces. Spalted gum lumber is available on rare occasions (in small pieces).


The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
sweet gum / red gum (also listed as "bilsted" which is a name I have not otherwise heard) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for all 3 views



web pics:


log section showing very nicely the distinct color variation between sapwood and heartwood, the high width of the sapwood, and the common jagged separation between sapwood and heartwood that makes for some very interesting streaking effects in flat cut planks that pass through that area.


sweet gum planks


all of these veneer sheets were listed as sweet gum veneer but many of them appear to be heartwood and should be called red gum.


red gum flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain


these were all listed as red gum planks but some of them appear to be sweet gum


sinker red gum planks


slabs listed as red gum


slabs listed as sweet gum, which is clearly a reference to the tree, not to whether the wood is the heartwood or the sapwood (since it is both). These pics were contributed to the site by a Florida sawyer who goes by "Funktionhouse", and whom I thank. All of these are more than 8 feet long and both sizes of enlargements are present for both.


a splated slab, also from Funktionhouse; both enlargements are present


a set of red gum planks and closeup (listed as sweet gum). The first pic is raw wood and the rest are moistened with mineral spirits --- I ended up buying this set and was very disappointed in the actual color, which is plain gray with no hint of red. See this up above in my own samples. Even the raw shot here shows a red tint, making it believable that the wood would show a nice red when finished, whereas the actual wood is gray with no hint of red. The vendor was honest after the fact, however, and we worked out a satisfactory deal after the original sale.


this plank was listed as red gum, but I believe that it is actually an unrelated wood more commonly called "river red gum" from Australia --- that wood has its own page on this site.


a set of planks, all from the same vendor and listed as red gum, although I find the color to be very unlikely and they look much more like sweet gum than red gum (actually, they don't look much like either one)


listed as figured red gum


red gum veneer


figured red gum veneer


red gum crotch veneer --- this may well be river red gum, a completely unrelated eucalyptus species.


red gum crotch veneer quartermatched


these were listed as figured sweetgum, but they are red gum. This is just an example of the name confusion in the "gum" woods. The first is a plank and the next two are veneer.


spalted red gum


spalted red gum scales


listed as spalted sweet gum


listed as spalted sweet gum, but looks to me to be the heartwood of the sweetgum tree, which is more commonly called red gum


root ball slabs that were listed as "root burl" but I see few signs of any burl


spalted sweet gum pen


red gum bowl blank and turning stock


two views of an American red gum bowl blank


a picture I found on the web --- it was labled "gum, vein white top" whatever that is.


platter and hollow form


sweet gum bowl


sweet gum bowl turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for this pic and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present.


sweet gum bowl set


sweet gum burl bowl


red gum bowls


hollow form by Dennis Ford, listed as spalted sweet gum