Instructions on how to take wood samples for dating

For dating purposes a sample of only a few milligrams of wood dust is needed, which has to be taken fairly deep in the wood and after having removed the first 2-3 mm of the surface. To take the samples use a normal electric drill having a milling-bit with a diameter of less than 3 mm (generally available in all hardware stores), possibly as the one shown in the picture, which produces a hole of the same dimensions as a woodworm hole. The wood powder must be gathered on a piece of white paper, which is to be folded carefully, sealed and mailed directly to the Museum laboratory. It is advisable to always take two samples for each piece of wood to be dated. In the case of furniture or objects composed of various wooden parts, take samples from at least two different sections.



Extra tips on how to take samples:

  • Choose the parts to be dated with care: give preference to those which are more significant and best preserved, avoiding areas excessively damaged by woodworm or contaminated.

  • With statues, avoid the bases on which they stand, as these are often deeply corroded or contaminated.

  • With furniture, take samples preferably from the internal carrying structure, which is less subject to restoration or use of very seasoned wood. Avoid areas which may have been restored or substituted. Do not take samples from the veneers, which are not thick enough and are unsuitable.

  • With painted panels take samples from the back and not from the edges, one near the centre and the other near the edge.

  • If the article is made from walnut, it is advisable to take a third sample: ideally 2 from the light-coloured area (sapwood) and 1 from the dark-coloured area (heartwood) - no extra charge.

Please send the samples to the address of the:
Museo d'Arte e Scienza -
via Q. Sella, 4   I- 20121 Milano

Prices to the public (VAT not included)

Dating of 1 sample (only for tropical and equatorial woods) : 100  (US$130)
Dating of 2 samples from the same piece of wood : 150  (US$200)
Dating of furniture (2 samples taken from 2 different pieces of wood, for a total of 4 samples) : 200  (US$260)

Measurement results are communicated by mail or fax.

A plastic-coated certificate with a photo of the object can be issued only if the sample was taken at the laboratory of the Museum or by an authorized person. Additional cost:  50

Museo d'Arte e Scienza  Tel: +39-02-72022488 - Fax: +39-02-72023156  E-mail:

For the USA you can contact an authorized person for the taking of wood samples

Mr John McGee - Southwest Ranches - FL - Phone: 954-6890497 - Cell: 954-801-4121 -


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