Imagine our delight when we found this sentence while reading a New Yorker story about gourmet beer: "Wood experts rate a species’ hardness on the Janka scale—a measure of how many pounds of force it takes to drive a half-inch steel ball halfway into a board." It sets up perfectly a lowbrow joke: of course super-aggressive date-a-holic Paul Janka would have a last name that refers to measuring the hardness of wood, right? So we did some research to estimate where on the Janka scale Paul's personal wood would actually be.Balsa—the thinnest, softest wood—rates at about 100. Eastern White Pine's a 380 and Hemlock is a 500. Those are all fairly soft woods. Brazilian walnut is one of the hardest woods, at 3684. Ebony rates a 3220, and red oak is at the low-middle end, with 1290. Which wood would compare to Paul Janka's hardness most accurately? We'd guesstimate—a very uneducated guess—somewhere around the hardness of sycamore. Look it up.
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