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    Author(s): Alex Wiedenhoeft
    Date: 2011
    Source: In: Identification of Central American Woods. 2011. Forest Products Society, Madison, WI. Publication #7215-11, ISBN 978-1-892529-58-9. pp. 23-30.
    Publication Series: Book Chapter
    Station: Forest Products Laboratory
    PDF: View PDF  (2.84 MB)


    The single most difficult physical skill involved in wood identification is producing a smoothly prepared surface for observing anatomical features. This skill must be practiced patiently; it takes time to become proficient at this task. Producing a cleanly cut surface is also the only appreciably dangerous aspect of wood identification with a hand lens; the tools used to cut the wood are necessarily sharp, and injuries from minor cuts to major lacerations can result from carelessness, fatigue, or poor technique. Safety must always be the first priority, followed closely by the secondary importance of making a serviceable cut of the wood. Because this skill is both necessary and inherently dangerous, patience and prudence must be exercised while learning. After nearly 16 years of teaching wood identification, I have learned that beginners generally do not follow the advice of their instructors and instead try to move ahead without taking sufficient safety precautions. In that same period of 16 years, I have also never cut myself deeply enough for blood to flow freely; I have only required a few small adhesive bandages in my professional career, specifically because I have followed the suggestions and used the techniques outlined below. Before trying to cut a specimen of wood with these techniques, please read and understand the entire chapter.

    Publication Notes

    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Wiedenhoeft, Alex. 2011. Chapter 04: Bloodless wood specimen preparation for hand lens observation. In: Identification of Central American Woods. 2011. Forest Products Society, Madison, WI. Publication #7215-11, ISBN 978-1-892529-58-9. pp. 23-30.


    wood identification, hand lens, Central America, Central American woods, commercial timber, pattern recognition, wood identification process, biology of wood, wood anatomy, wood structure, scientific names, loupe, macroscopic, sample preparation, surfacing, cutting, characters, vessels, rays, parenchyma, identification key, species description, similar woods, species summaries, wood collection, wood identification references, InsideWood

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