Author Topic: Working with wenge?  (Read 3665 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3190
Working with wenge?
« on: December 21, 2016, 11:00 PM »
Trying to put together a last minute Xmas gift, which is a small piece of furniture, and I think I'm going to use wenge for it. 

I've never worked with it before, but I've heard that it can be difficult to finish.  I'm wondering what people have done to get the most out of the natural look of the wood.  The piece does not have to be sanded to that high of a grit (220 at most), and I plan on just doing an oil finish -- maybe Osmo?  I'm also wondering if I should apply a sanding sealer first, given how porous the wood is.
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 501
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2016, 12:05 AM »
I've done one small piece with Wenge and didn't have any issues with an oil finish.

Wenge is brittle along the grain and splinters like crazy - it's one of the worst for that.  Make sure you back up any cuts.

But wait - there's more.  Wenge splinters commonly get infected.  The infections I got from two different splinters (yep, on just one project) were just minor, didn't need to be treated, but still irritating.  My son has had the same experience with it.

Offline Roseland

  • Posts: 520
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, 12:43 AM »
Yes, wenge can be be hazardous.  Not only the splinters, but the dust can cause dermatitis and you really don't want it in your eyes.

Andrew
TS55, MFT/3, OF1400, OF1010, CT26, RS100, ETS125, CXS, MFS400, DF-500, Zobos.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 3153
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 01:47 AM »
I've worked with it a couple of times and I didn't have any issues. Maybe that's just me...I've used it for several kitchen accessories.

Here I've used it to enhance the look of a blackboard eraser for the refrigerator.

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3190
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2016, 08:20 AM »
Good to know.  Before I ever got a serious wood splinter, I always wondered why such a big deal was made in all those cautions you hear about them, and that folks were just not being sufficiently "manly" about it.  Then I got a thick 3/4" long oak splinter lodged at the base of one of my fingers.  It sunk so deep that I couldn't get it out on my own, and I certainly didn't think it called for a hospital visit, so I just let it sit there.  Well, almost a week later that finger was swollen and infected, and I couldn't close my hand much less grip anything without wincing.  The one benefit of the swelling was that I was finally able -- with the benefit of the pus and other liquid that had built up, but only after an excruciating amount of pain -- to squeeze the splinter out enough so that it could be grabbed with some tweezers.  So yeah, splinters are no joke.   

I've done one small piece with Wenge and didn't have any issues with an oil finish.

Wenge is brittle along the grain and splinters like crazy - it's one of the worst for that.  Make sure you back up any cuts.

But wait - there's more.  Wenge splinters commonly get infected.  The infections I got from two different splinters (yep, on just one project) were just minor, didn't need to be treated, but still irritating.  My son has had the same experience with it.
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2098
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 09:58 AM »
I've used Wenge on several projects and finished with Rocklers Maloof finish of oil and poly followed by wax buffed out.  Works great and it does soak in the finish.

Agree on the care when working due to splinters.  Break any edges and I tend to wet sand it with finish down to 400 grit which works wonderfully.

Offline waho6o9

  • Posts: 1271
    • Garage Door Handyman.com
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 10:50 AM »

Offline Rip Van Winkle

  • Posts: 250
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2016, 11:53 AM »
If you use an oil finish on wenge, the lighter striations will get darker, and will be much less noticeable than when the wenge is freshly sanded or planed. If you want to keep the contrast between the two colors you would need to use a different finish. Alternately, I've seen wenge that has been bleached, to increase the contrast between the light and dark striations, and I believe I've seen instances of people using a light or white stain fir the same purpose. I don't have enough experience with either to give you better advice though.

A warning about wenge.  The wood can split easily, and it tends to be nasty in regards to splinters. The splinters tend to be smooth so in some ways it's not as bad as a wood like purpleheart, but the splinters also tend to be sharp and brittle. If you do get splinters I would recommend cutting them out with a clean razor blade if you can't get them out with tweezers. I would also recommend gloves and arm protection.

Wenge also tends  to tear out while planing if you take too heavy a cut, or your knives aren't sharp enough. The contrast in hardness between the dark and light grain can make the tearout way worse than with typical North American hardwoods.

Offline OnhillWW

  • Posts: 3
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2016, 12:38 PM »
I have a lot of experience with wenge and I agree with what others have already said, especially regarding splinters.  I finish down to 400 grit and always use an oil based finish, most often Waterlox.  The first coat will cure in 24 hrs but subsequent coats take longer.  I sand prior to each subsequent coat (600). You will never get a glass smooth surface as the dark wood seems to always stand proud to the lighter grain.  Use sharp tools and backup exiting cuts if sharp edges are required as it loves to chip / splinter especially w/ crosscuts. Finished coloration for the dark wood will vary from deep espresso brown black to near black and even at times with a very slight purple cast.  Lighter grain will be dark caramel to amber with oil.  Writing this has piqued my curiosity and I'll have to see what happens with a clear lacquer or water based poly finish.

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3190
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2016, 06:59 AM »
Lol.  So I was at the lumber yard yesterday to pick up some padauk, but I decided to flip through the wenge stacks to get an idea of the grain patterns available.  A little voice in my head said maybe you should wait until the next time when you remember to bring your gloves, it's not like you're going to be carrying around the boards or loading them in the truck.  Well, this morning when I awoke and flexed my hands I could feel that they were achy and swollen in quite a few places.  I've just now concluded about a half hour digging out at least 8 small wenge splinters, so small I never felt them going in, but large enough once lodged in my hands to activate a hostile response from my body.  And I have the bloody tweezers to prove it.  Live and learn the hard way.   
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 729
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2016, 07:28 AM »
Another little hint on Wenge and many other exotics, always check them with a good moisture meter and never assume they have been dried properly. Depending on the project and what environment it will finally reside in, could be a major disaster. Its an interesting family of wood with many colour variations from banana yellow to almost black.

John

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3190
Re: Working with wenge?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2017, 05:36 AM »
So, I finally picked up a thick board of wenge for a small project I'm doing -- 8/4 stock maybe 5" wide and 8 ft. long.  I've only just begun working with it, but already I've run into some very odd features of the wood.

I'm currently making the individual pieces of the board, and as I was trying to joint the edge of each piece yesterday, I found that many -- maybe most of my planes -- were ineffective on it.  The low angle jack just rides over the surface and creates a fine dust.  The jointer plane, bedded at 45 degree, did a little better, but was removing most of the shavings from the front and back of the cut rather than the middle.  The only plane that would bite the surface evenly was my 4 1/2", which I have set to middle pitch with a 55 degree frog.  The blades are super sharp -- I sharpened them all before starting, and they work great in normal wood.  There's something about the wenge that prevents the metal from biting at lower angles of attack.  I don;'t know what I'm going to do when I have to dimension the pieces to final size, which necessarily involves a lot of handplane work because of their non standard shapes.  I may have to resort to shaving them down with a power planer.
 
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3