WOODPRO - Species Selection Made Easy
WOODPRO - Species Selection Made Easy
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Looking up the characteristics for a particular species of wood used to mean pulling out a number of reference books, paging through the appropriate tables and graphs, and cross referencing related information. Comparing the characteristics of a number of different species could get even more involved. The chore has just been simplified.
The creators of WOODPRO have designed a program for woodworkers, that allows them to select the most suitable wood species for any particular application. The software is built around a database of 331 common wood types, their properties and prices. The physical property values of the various wood species have, according to the developer, been derived by analyzing a number of forest products reference sources.
There are two ways to use WOODPRO to help select the most suitable wood for a particular project. You can "look up" any wood in the WOODPRO database.
Each specie's screen is divided into three tables: Overview Properties, Engineering Properties and Woodworking Properties as shown below:
Overview of Properties
There are seven Overview Properties: weight, compression, strength, stiffness, hardness, shock resistance, and price. WOODPRO assigns a value (from 1 to 10) to each of these properties for any given wood species. These values are based on the Engineering Properties, which have been compiled from a wide range of data sources. These engineering properties have been quantified, and include what the developer calls a "confidence value" (shown as a percentage)that represents the theoretical range of accuracy (due to the inherent variables found in wood). Unfortunately, they fail to adequately explain how to apply these confidence factors. Another bothersome omission is found in the weight properties. The developers failed to note whether the green or dry weight is used.
The Woodworking Properties are: planing, shaping, turning, boring, mortising, sanding, steaming, nailing, and screwing. The values for these properties are listed as a percentage of successfully machined pieces (those with no defects caused by the woodworking process).
A woodworker might use this "look up" information to ascertain that a preselected wood was well suited for its intended purpose (when a customer has specified a particular species, for example).. WOODPRO also allows users to run complex queries to determine the best wood species for a particular job. A typical query might look like this:
This query would generate a species list of white, strong woods, that planed well, according to their strength to price ratio. The program allows for intricate queries that "drill down" through the species lists to assist in finding the most appropriate type of wood for a specific use.
Unfortunately one of the most important qualifiers when determining species suitability is not available when running a query. We have found through the years that information regarding shrinkage and expansion is often critical to the success of a project. Although the species screens show a relative value for shrinkage, it is not as useful as it ought to be. There is a wealth of data available on wood movement, and formulas that make it easy to calculate the shrinkage and expansion of various species under different conditions of humidity. Adding these capabilities, or at least a shrinkage query qualifier, to the program would be a very useful feature.
WOODPRO can be started with its entire species database available by entering the command: WOODPRO ALL. Being able to access the properties of 331 species of wood may be valuable from a reference standpoint, but in the real world, most shops work with only a dozen or so different species. Recognizing this, the developers have provided a price file (cost.wod) that can be opened, revised and updated in a text editor. The WOODPRO NORMAL command loads this price file (and it's species), and ignores all other woods. Using this file, the database can be customized so it will limit searches to user-defined species . This file also allows users to run queries based on the current pricing they have defined for each specie. This way, if you only work in, buy, or sell native hardwoods, the NORMAL mode will eliminate the exotics from a queried species list, as long as they do not appear in the cost.wod file.
The program is available free (for evaluation), as shareware, here at WOODWEB. This is not a demo, it is a complete working program; the developers hope that you will like it enough to send them the $15 registration fee. If the program is well received by the woodworking community (meaning that the WOODPRO folks receive some registration fees) they plan to improve and develop it.
WOODPRO is simple to download (see editors note at the beginning of this review) and install, but you will need an "unzip" utility, like PKUNZIP or WINZIP to expand the woodpro.zip file into the program files necessary to actually run the application. The address for WOODPRO is:
WOODPRO is a solid, well behaved, program that's somewhat limited in scope. We'd like to see more useful information on shrinkage properties, and a few other areas of the program need to be cleaned up, but these are minor issues. You've got nothing to lose by giving it a try, and we're betting that the developers will continue to improve it.
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