The preceding article, "Identifying Wood–A Primer for Everyone, Part 3: Distinguishing Softwoods from Hardwoods" (FOR-125), described how to distinguish softwoods from hardwoods, and that’s the first step in identifying an unknown piece of wood. At this point, additional terminology is necessary to further distinguish between species, and I'll begin by talking about the different sides of a hypothetical piece of wood. Frequently you need to be able to observe wood cells from a particular perspective, and you will need to know where to look for different features on your sample. It’s also very helpful to develop a kind of “visual vocabulary” that will let you match a term with a corresponding mental image, and the information in this chapter will start you on your way.

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This is Part 4 of the Identifying Wood—A Primer for Everyone series.