Author Topic: A Question About Wood for the Aussies  (Read 2432 times)

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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 787
A Question About Wood for the Aussies
« on: January 27, 2018, 11:22 AM »
I just got a "Woods of the World" poster where woods are ranked by region and then hardness.  As it happens, Australia has 6-7 of the top 10 hardest woods (over 4000 Janka), and in general a larger selection of very hard woods woods than any other region.

So my questions is, what techniques have you developed to work with the harder than average woods to which you have access?  I'm interested in all kinds of techniques with all kinds of hand and power tools, but I'm particularly interested in cutting techniques.  I use a lot of cherry, hard & soft maple, walnut, sycamore, and oak, which generally run 700-1500 Janka, but I find myself occasionally integrating some imported species that are harder.  The occasional nature of the harder stuff means that I don't have the ability to learn the good techniques with frequent practice :).

Also, what about moisture content and drying - do the harder woods take longer to dry, or must you take special precautions?

Just curiously, any particular hard woods that you like either for beauty or workability?  Where you might have to make a choice between using a really good looking piece of wood and the niusance or even safety factor of working it?

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Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3594
Re: A Question About Wood for the Aussies
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2018, 06:36 AM »
@HarveyWildes Is this teh poster you're talking about?

https://www.amazon.com/Worldwide-Woods-Ranked-Hardness-Poster/dp/B01NBELFW9

I just got a "Woods of the World" poster where woods are ranked by region and then hardness.  As it happens, Australia has 6-7 of the top 10 hardest woods (over 4000 Janka), and in general a larger selection of very hard woods woods than any other region.

So my questions is, what techniques have you developed to work with the harder than average woods to which you have access?  I'm interested in all kinds of techniques with all kinds of hand and power tools, but I'm particularly interested in cutting techniques.  I use a lot of cherry, hard & soft maple, walnut, sycamore, and oak, which generally run 700-1500 Janka, but I find myself occasionally integrating some imported species that are harder.  The occasional nature of the harder stuff means that I don't have the ability to learn the good techniques with frequent practice :).

Also, what about moisture content and drying - do the harder woods take longer to dry, or must you take special precautions?

Just curiously, any particular hard woods that you like either for beauty or workability?  Where you might have to make a choice between using a really good looking piece of wood and the niusance or even safety factor of working it?
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Offline Untidy Shop

  • Posts: 2664
Re: A Question About Wood for the Aussies
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2018, 07:38 AM »

@HarveyWildes

Can not access the poster you refer to, but not surprised. Many Australian woods such as Blackwood have high silica content. Hence the Festool system and vacuum extraction from the tool. As anyone knows who has cut down any species of  Wattle, Wattle trees will generally  blunt the chain of a chainsaw very quickly, even when compared to Eucalyptus, let some pine species.

With Eucalyptus, kiln dried can be more prone to splintering, say with a router in my experience, than air dried. So minimal material removal with each pass of a router, plane or thicknesser. Consequently often better to rip saw first (even a small amount) then trim minimal remainder say with router. Blunt tools, even at a stage of sharpness that might be OK with pine, can often burn/blacken an edge of say Blackeood and Mountain Ash.

Whether we replace sanding pads more frequently than those elsewhere I can not say.

Then there are the extremely slow growing inland species such a Gidgee.  These are really tough and are best left to those with extraordinary patence and knowledge.
https://www.hntgordon.com.au

New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. Heartwood dark chocolate brown, sapwood pale yellow. Grain variable, some trees produce wood with a wavy figure commonly known as ringed gidgee. GD about 1330 kg/m3, ADD about 1250 kg/m3.

So when processing most Australian native species the rule is the same as with most wood workers - sharp tools, patience  and excellent dust extraction.  [smile]
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 08:16 AM by Untidy Shop »
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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 787
Re: A Question About Wood for the Aussies
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2018, 10:26 AM »
@HarveyWildes Is this the poster you're talking about?

https://www.amazon.com/Worldwide-Woods-Ranked-Hardness-Poster/dp/B01NBELFW9

That's the one.  Got is as a birthday present last summer.  Kind of interesting to spend 15 minutes with now and again.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 787
Re: A Question About Wood for the Aussies
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2018, 11:07 AM »
Thanks for the reply, @Untidy Shop.  I've always been leary of the high silica woods that I have easy access to - primarily Ipe, Jatoba, and Goncalo Alves, all from South America.  I have to admit that I do not use my planes on them, unless I can get away with just one or two passes - say trimming a slightly proud edge to flush.  Even then I suspect that I need a higher angle grind (for any hard wood, not just high silica ones) than I normally use to get a really good surface - the last piece of Jatoba that I planed ended up with just enough tearout that I notice it.  I got a couple of low angle bevel up Veritas planes lately just so that I could easily switch between bevel angles by switching blades.  I also got PMV-11 blades hoping that they would hold an edge longer.

Chisels are another topic.  I've been wondering if I need two sets with two different bevel angles.

At any rate, looking at some of these hand tool difficulties, I already find myself depending more on power tools for harder woods just because of the difficulty keeping hand tools properly tuned and sharpened.  So I find myself reaching more frequently for hand tools to work softer woods sourced in NA, and revert to power tools when I start on the harder ones.

Point on dust collection is well taken.  That's one of the big reasons I've been delighted with Festool so far.

I have to admit that of all areas of the world, I have the least experience with Australian woods.  I have worked eucalyptus, but the plantation grown South American variety.  When Australian woods are available in NA, they always seem to be just beyond my price point.  So I hope you enjoy some of the unique resources to which you have access :).  I have admired the Gordon planes from afar, but have never seen one in person.

Occasionally I turn small wooden tops from dense 2x2 blanks - Christmas for the grandkids kind of stuff (we have spinning contests).  The extra mass of a dense wood makes for lots of momentum and a long-spinning top.  The best so far has been lignum vitae with a spin of slightly over 2 minutes.  It would be fun to try one of the dense Australian woods and compare.


@HarveyWildes

Can not access the poster you refer to, but not surprised. Many Australian woods such as Blackwood have high silica content. Hence the Festool system and vacuum extraction from the tool. As anyone knows who has cut down any species of  Wattle, Wattle trees will generally  blunt the chain of a chainsaw very quickly, even when compared to Eucalyptus, let some pine species.

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