I don’t know this tree species, do you?


I procured this piece of what had been a sailboat keel and ribs on the West Coast about 35 years ago. The boat had been commissioned and it took the lone maker about a year to get the keel and ribs laid up. The story has it that payment for work and material had gone in arrears for some time so the maker, fed up, cut the framework apart with a chain saw. This happened in a boat yard that was in view from my office at the time.

I have always loved this artifact and kept it with me all the way to my current home in Montana. It weighed about 250 lbs until a month or so ago when I cut off a portion of the keel.

keel-cut-faceI milled about half of the cut off and in spite of time and weather the wood is in great shape.
mystery-wood-blockHere is a picture of the mallet I made which is mentioned below.


It is quite dense with a specific gravity greater than 1.0, it doesn’t float. The keel has been on my covered porch for 8 years and is surely as dry as it is going to get. I would love to know the tree species so I can use the wood properly. I thought it would make a great mallet but it started to splinter fairly quickly. So I took these close ups in hopes someone would know the species.mystery-wood-cross-sectionmystery-wood-plane-sawnlmystery-wood-quarter

About Al Flinck

Retired science teacher. Beginning woodworker. It is my passion to make things and solve problems.
This entry was posted in Beginnings. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I don’t know this tree species, do you?

  1. Rick says:

    Hi Al, hope all is well. Can you email me the last 3 photos? I belong to the wooden boat forum and i want to post them to see if you can get an answer. I’m curious too. Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. Al Flinck says:

    Sure will. Thanks.

  3. Les Gilman says:

    Me no know !!
    Happy New Year !!

  4. Anthony says:

    Is the grain interlocking? My best guess is Jatoba.

    • Al Flinck says:

      Anthony, The local hardwood purveyor guessed Jatoba too. Not sure what you mean by interlocking grain. I added a photo to the post which shows how the grain split out on the mallet I mentioned there. Does that help you tell if the grain is interlocking. Thanks for your time and interest.

  5. Anthony says:

    My second best guess is Zapatero. I have a piece that was salvaged during construction of the Panama Canal.

    • Al Flinck says:

      I have not even heard of Zapatero, but the use in marine (aquatic) settings fits. Common names of woods can be very confusing so I hate to mention this, but….There was a suggestion from someone when I obtained the piece that it was “greenheart”. There are many disparate woods by that name but one is Central American and used in marine applications. Does any of this ring a bell?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s