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Thread: The scent of wood

  1. #1
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    Default The scent of wood

    What wood scents remind you of things in life? I was reminded of this from another thread when Garret described the smell of Atlantic Yellow Cedar as "menthol cigarette butts ground out in the dirt". Yuck.
    One of my earliest members of a wood aroma was a piece of what my father said was dogwood. To tell the truth, it smelled like dog poop.
    Since then, the memories of wood aromas have been nothing but good.

    Every time I cut a piece of cherry, it takes me back to my 7th and 8th grade shop classes in school. For some reason, that shop was loaded with cherry wood. Fond memories.

    My first job as a carpenter was working on vacation home construction in the Adirondack mountains of New York. We used tons of white pine. Cutting a piece of that now takes me back to the beginning of my career.

    Cutting into a piece of oak takes me back over 25 years when I built the backbone of my pilot sloop. Also the aroma of steamed oak. Wonderful scents.

    Wood: Touch, sight, scent. To a wood worker, it excites almost all the senses and harbors good memories.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Speaking of that 8th grade shop class.... We were told to look through a book of project ideas for what we wanted to build. I showed the teacher a picture of a flat bottomed skiff on the last page. He just chuckled and told me to go build a birdhouse like everyone else. Little did he know....
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Ah, Rich, all of those things you mentioned, the scent, the touch, the sight.... I used to think that way about girls.... and now it is boat porn that turns me on, and the discovery of a forgotten piece of wood when I am doing a project in my shop and in need of just such a piece. I probably should be sad it has come to this, but I'm not

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    There are woods that small great. There are some that are 'regrettable'. Some hardly smell at all. My favorite wood smell experience is turning cherry, and hitting a little pitch pocket. It's like an explosion of cherry blossoms in your brain.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    My dead dad came for a visit when I "wooded" Woodwinds black walnut counter top the other day.

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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    There's a large restaurant / cafe in Penryn that has a huge decked area out the back on the harbour wall. It's made of some tropical wood that stinks of vomit ( could be angelique? ). Still stinks 4 years after it was built, not a great choice, but one of Luke Powells cutters is moored alongside, so I forgive them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    My dead dad came for a visit when I "wooded" Woodwinds black walnut counter top the other day.
    Funny how smells are able to bring back such powerful memories. I will always associate the smell of walnut with my old man's shop. That and the dixie cups with popsicle sticks stuck in the remnants of Weldwood...

    I remember walking into the hardware store in Mattituck just up from the harbor and the smell of turps, coffee and old cigarette smoke brought me instantly back to holding my dad's hand and following him into the ships store at Yatch Haven...."Dont touch anything...."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    sanding pine...

    my Grandfather had a belt sander in the loft of his barn at Joppa in Newburyport, we used to walk over to my grandparents house for lunch after church and he would and let me take a chunk of pine and while he ran the band saw sand I got to sand what ever sort of little boat, or sword or gun (I always wanted one of the three)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    Funny how smells are able to bring back such powerful memories. I will always associate the smell of walnut with my old man's shop. That and the dixie cups with popsicle sticks stuck in the remnants of Weldwood...

    I remember walking into the hardware store in Mattituck just up from the harbor and the smell of turps, coffee and old cigarette smoke brought me instantly back to holding my dad's hand and following him into the ships store at Yatch Haven...."Dont touch anything...."
    Mattituck, Long Island? I lived there as a little kid in the late 1950's. The smell of creosote will always remind me of the docks and waterfront of Long Island towns.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Walnut does it for me. There is no wood smell that is better.

    Jeff

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Thats the place. PIA to get in and out of but the perfect spot to run and hide if the weather goes all to hell.
    Amazing hardware store. Squeaky screen door, squeaky old wooden floor and a curmudgeon behind the counter who knew where every single nut, bolt and shackle were.
    God I miss real hardware stores...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    It was Alaskan Yellow Cedar, but you got the rest right... BTW - I don't find it that bad, but Port Orford Cedar (both are actually cypresses) smells really good.

    Spruce. Takes me back to hot summer days working in a sawmill in Jonesville, VT. Cedar (eastern) will always take me back to my grandmother's walk in cedar closet,
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    ...God I miss real hardware stores...
    Don't we all!

    I have strong memories of being told much the same as Rich in Norwalk's Yacht Haven. Then there was the distinctive harbor smell of Lindstrom's boatyard in Stamford. Creosote, wood shavings, LI Sound mud flats spiced by the disgusting pollution of Stamford Harbor in the 60's.

    5 Mile River had a similar smell, but not as much of the chemical stink.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    We kept our boat at Doan's in Stamford back in the early 60's. The yard smelled like Woolsey bottom paint and diesel fuel.
    Stamford harbor was a sad place back then....

    Not a decent chandlery anywhere to be found any more. Hathaway Reiser and Raymond closed about five years ago too. The only ships stores are in Norwalk and they are more interested in selling monkey fist key rings, signal flag coffee mugs and water skis. Its a damn shame.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    I'm setting aside a stock of turpentine, linseed oil, and Stockholm tar. I expect they will be outlawed soon. Just a dab behind the ears is all it takes to smell like a real man all day long.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    I'm setting aside a stock of turpentine, linseed oil, and Stockholm tar. I expect they will be outlawed soon. Just a dab behind the ears is all it takes to smell like a real man all day long.
    Old Time Woodsman's Fly Dope. You pretty much listed the ingredients (substitute creosote for the tar). After a few weeks in northern Maine, various women in my life (starting with my mom) would not allow me back in the house without stripping outside & going straight to the shower. Sure worked well on the bugs though!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Woodsman fly dope! Theres a smell youll never forget. They had to reformulate it to remove the creosote component and it just weren't the same after that.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    One of the delights about going to Boat school for two years was taking a deep sniff every morning when I walked into the wood shop. Ambrosia.
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    I was just packing up the wooden Dragon and the sun was shining and you could really smell the 55 year old mahogany coming up from the cockpit. A wonderful smell.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Any time I start working with Jersey white cedar my memory goes to Mihm's boatyard in Monmouth Beach NJ when I was a very small child. Still remember the big gray bandsaw, the wooden floor and the piles of cedar sawdust. That cedar smells wonderful!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    I'm setting aside a stock of turpentine, linseed oil, and Stockholm tar. I expect they will be outlawed soon. Just a dab behind the ears is all it takes to smell like a real man all day long.
    Being from northern New England, White Pine is the wood scent that reminds me of my youth. Many of the places I lived in and visted were built with that. Even the mountain of kitchen stove wood in the barn was that. But an old varnished Cedar and canvas canoe sitting in the sun is a close second!

    Pine tar... a story.
    I once was hired as a sub-contractor to pioneer a road, clear about 20 acres of trees, brush, etc and demolish an old barn, but could not do it exactly as ordered. First I went through the barn and gleaned all the bits of wrought iron, hinges, hooks, latches and other assorted stuff. Among it all was an ancient can of Pine tar, the real stuff, black as a witch's caldron and as pungent today as it was new. A pre-patent paint can, some will slowly leak from the can over a couple of days if it capsizes. That was how I discovered it in the back of my truck. Still I have it and, a couple of times a year I dip the end of short piece of hemp rope in it and nail that to a rafter in my own barn just for the ambiance. Perfect, a lifetime supply. (Turpentine doesn't keep that well for me, about 25 years is it)

    That "Barn" by the way was all first growth Redwood, boards and battens, built by Spreckels in 1856. All clear VG 12-1/2" about 1-1/8" thick. I pulled the nails (not so many) and took off every single board by hand and stacked them here at home. It took some time (days!) and was not what the project manager had in mind, but my attitude was basically "F.U! - I'm not bulldozing this into rubble"... On the roof were hand split Redwood shingles 3/8 inch thick and 4 feet long.
    That was in 1970? and I still have a dozen or so of those boards, they were whitewashed on one side which should but doesn't exactly "kill" the knives in my planer. The larger timbers are now incorporated into my own barn framing. (The shingles went on the roof of a small timber framed tool shed which regretfully I gave away along with a small house but that's another tale.)
    There was a hand-split Redwood 25 foot flagpole that I found grown in the blackberry vines which I have here also.

    (Today that property by marriage, maybe 400 acres left which was not gifted to the state, is still in possesion of the heirs to the Shell Oil fortune. Mostly Redwood forest there are over 60 trees scattered in there with 10 ft+ diameter. It is adjacent to a state park/forest and a "Preserve". They "kept me on" after the barn thing and for many years I used to keep a tractor there and was a caretaker of the roads, culverts and springs/water system. The entire property is breathtaking ocean views and sometimes (there were only people there on the weekends) I felt the need to pinch myself. "Is this real or just another acid flashback?"

    Apologies for the drift...

  22. #22
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Being from northern New England, White Pine is the wood scent that reminds me of my youth. Many of the places I lived in and visted were built with that. Even the mountain of kitchen stove wood in the barn was that. But an old varnished Cedar and canvas canoe sitting in the sun is a close second!

    Pine tar... a story.
    I once was hired as a sub-contractor to pioneer a road, clear about 20 acres of trees, brush, etc and demolish an old barn, but could not do it exactly as ordered. First I went through the barn and gleaned all the bits of wrought iron, hinges, hooks, latches and other assorted stuff. Among it all was an ancient can of Pine tar, the real stuff, black as a witch's caldron and as pungent today as it was new. A pre-patent paint can, some will slowly leak from the can over a couple of days if it capsizes. That was how I discovered it in the back of my truck. Still I have it and, a couple of times a year I dip the end of short piece of hemp rope in it and nail that to a rafter in my own barn just for the ambiance. Perfect, a lifetime supply. (Turpentine doesn't keep that well for me, about 25 years is it)

    That "Barn" by the way was all first growth Redwood, boards and battens, built by Spreckels in 1856. All clear VG 12-1/2" about 1-1/8" thick. I pulled the nails (not so many) and took off every single board by hand and stacked them here at home. It took some time (days!) and was not what the project manager had in mind, but my attitude was basically "F.U! - I'm not bulldozing this into rubble"... On the roof were hand split Redwood shingles 3/8 inch thick and 4 feet long.
    That was in 1970? and I still have a dozen or so of those boards, they were whitewashed on one side which should but doesn't exactly "kill" the knives in my planer. The larger timbers are now incorporated into my own barn framing. (The shingles went on the roof of a small timber framed tool shed which regretfully I gave away along with a small house but that's another tale.)
    There was a hand-split Redwood 25 foot flagpole that I found grown in the blackberry vines which I have here also.

    (Today that property by marriage, maybe 400 acres left which was not gifted to the state, is still in possesion of the heirs to the Shell Oil fortune. Mostly Redwood forest there are over 60 trees scattered in there with 10 ft+ diameter. It is adjacent to a state park/forest and a "Preserve". They "kept me on" after the barn thing and for many years I used to keep a tractor there and was a caretaker of the roads, culverts and springs/water system. The entire property is breathtaking ocean views and sometimes (there were only people there on the weekends) I felt the need to pinch myself. "Is this real or just another acid flashback?"

    Apologies for the drift...
    That is nothing to apologize for. There is too much bulldozing going on these days.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Walnut does it for me. There is no wood smell that is better. Jeff
    Can you get back to us after inhaling the aroma of Cedar of Lebanon?Nothing nicer smelling grows anywhere to my knowledge.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    We get a fair amount of Cupressus macrocarpa here, I have always thought the smell could be developed for aftershave or other male cosmetics.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    The smell of eucalyptus when the first rain hits dust after a long dry. Beeswax polish, gum leaves, the sea on a wind change when well inland. Fresh made tea, I didn't take to coffee till much older.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    early morning, sailing east into the rising sun; the faintest whiff of coffee and propane from down below...

  27. #27
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    AYC is MY favorite smelling wood, but it brings no memories.
    Perhaps my own son will be reminded of long gone me by AYC?

  28. #28
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    AYC is MY favorite smelling wood, but it brings no memories.
    Perhaps my own son will be reminded of long gone me by AYC?
    Funny how tastes vary. I know some folks who hate the scent of AYC. I don't mind it - but can't say I love it. I rather like Jatoba, too. Cinnamon'y.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  29. #29
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    To me AYC is a superior wood, but the odor is about the same as White Fir or "piss fir"
    It smells like cat pee.
    I once made a little wood-box for kindling and my wife wouldn't let me bring it in the house!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    WRC always takes me back to planking my Redbird, the first boat I ever built. (I'm only part way through my second boat) It's probably my favourite smelling wood.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  31. #31
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    I used two types of "African Mahogany" for our Argie 15. The one type had straight grain with a beautiful color and neutral smell. Later in the project, I bought some "mixed grain" which had a slightly foul odor and the dust tasted awful. I felt nauseated working with the mixed grain and resorted to using my 3M respirator not just the white dust mask. The cedar I used on the rudder and other details smelled lovely.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: The scent of wood

    Funny how a certain aroma can evoke a memory! Sawing Chinese Rosewood brings up images of visiting a Chinese curio shop with a collection of jades, wooden carvings and the faint wafting smell of incense.

    Pitch pine always take me back to helping build Lary and Linn Pardey's "Seraffyn". Oddly my favorite smell is the musty aroma of morning dew on ice plant near the shores of california. It takes me back to my early days at San Pedro Boat Works during WWII. I started my boat building and design career there at age five wielding a push boom, fox tail and dust pan during haul outs for my Dad's Lester Stone gaff headed sloop "Pronto".
    Jay

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