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I was lucky to have a dad who always had a big shop that taught me a lot. I just never have done projects for myself. Now it's become an addiction. I travel for work, but every time I'm home I am...
I read Understanding Wood Finishing a while back! You're completely right JimMac, it helped me out a ton when I was getting started.
A bit hard to tell but it does look like curly soft maple.
You might try asking at the International Wood Collectors Society, woodcollectors.org.
Hah! I've made a few dumb moves over the years. While it sometimes pays to rush, that's when I usually get bitten. I'll send you an email.