The World of Wood

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Taught by Jonathan Soma

Soma was born in the South, is what someone from the North would say. He co-founded the Brainery, is the sciencey half of Masters of Social Gastronomy, and plans on getting married to Waffle House. In his more droll moments he is a tragic sellout to higher ed as a professor of data journalism at Columbia University's journalism school.

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Whether it's in baseball bats, veneered particleboard from Ikea or hand-me-down mahogany, you've probably already encountered twelve different kinds of wood today.  And it's about time to start thinking about that!

We'll take a look at the different types of wood and what gives them their specific personalities. What makes pine so splotchy when you stain it? Why is hardwood so expensive? What makes hardwood hardwood, even?

And why are certain things are made of certain types of wood?  Baseball bats are made from "northern white ash harvested from Pennsylvania or New York." That's so specific! What's the story there? Whiskey aged in French oak tastes different from American oak. Why?

We'll also hit specifics. Grain isn't just for cooking - what's open grain vs. closed grain and what impact does it have on what you can do with a piece of wood? Secret fact: wood grain has amazing names like "bird's eye," "fiddlerback," and "quilted."

Whether you're into building things, trawling craiglist for furniture, or just think "fiddlerback" is a neat word, we're going to find out what's really going on in the world of wood.

Take this with our traditional woodcrafts class!

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