Identify exotic types of wood by examining the sample's grain color and pattern, as well as its weight and hardness. Exotic wood typically have highly recognizable appearances, although precise identification based on appearance alone is very difficult.
When attempting to identify an exotic wood, first determine if the color of the sample is natural or if it is stained. If the wood is stained, identification is much more difficult. If the wood sample has a patina or is weathered from age, it might also be difficult to identify with certainty. In this case, sand or plane the sample to view the raw, natural color of the wood.
Softwoods are typically smooth, without grain indentations or other imperfections. Hardwoods feature an open pore structure. Figures and unusual characteristics such as burls and knots can also help identify the type of wood.
To identify a wood sample through its hardness or weight, scrape it lightly to determine whether it is a softwood or a hardwood. Using a scale and measuring tools, calculate the density of the sample and compare the result with a database or carpenter's chart of exotic woods. Moisture can affect a wood's weight, making dry wood feel lighter than wood from freshly felled trees.