• Friday, October 03rd, 2008

The Forest Products Laboratory is the best source of information on that wonderful stuff that we woodworkers cherish so dearly – wood. As I graze the woodworking literature in print and online, it seems the FPL does not get the attention it warrants. It is an authoritative and amazingly extensive source.

From the FPL website the entire Wood Handbook, all 15 MB and 508 pages, can be downloaded. I keep the pdf copy on my hard drive. This book is a treasure chest of wood information – structure, physical properties of various species, grading, fasteners, gluing, finishing, etc. It does not spell out woodworking technique but it provides the kind of hard data that can form the basis for rational woodworking methodology. Making a frame and panel and want to know the shrinkage values for butternut? Page 59. Hmm…about like cherry, I’m familiar with cherry, so ok …

Look up the Tech Sheet for a species and you will get to a Technology Transfer Fact Sheet with more information than you may ever want about that species.

And on and on, there’s a ton of useful and interesting information here. (Did I mention that it’s free?)

Category: Resources
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3 Responses

  1. 1

    Thanks for the web-site tip. The down loadable book is loaded with info.

    I have not been able to find this tech sheet for a species of wood. Is this on the web site or the downloaded Wood Handbook? Either way I’ve come up empty. Would you show an example?

  2. 2
    Rob Porcaro 


    Thanks for your interest. Here’s two ways to access the very helpful Tech Sheets:

    1) Just type the species common name, eg “cherry”, in the Search box in the upper left corner of the FPL home page (the link is in the post). On the list of results that appears, find one that says Tech Sheet. It will lead you to either the Tech Sheet itself or an index from which you can easily get to the species you want.

    2) Here’s a more direct route: go to this link which has an index of all the tech sheets subdivided into categories.

    I cannot find a direct link to this index on the FPL homepage but I think it would be helpful if it was there. I emailed the FPL with this suggestion.


  3. 3

    Thanks Rob,

    Went to the site through these links ( added them to my bookmarks) and found the tech sheets. Good info on those too. Hopefully FPL will use your suggestion.