I had a guy at my booth in Studio City a couple weekends ago who asked me if I'd be interested in an old log. He'd gotten it to use for landscaping, then decided it was not the look he wanted. I started telling him that old dried-out logs are not that good for turning, and he mentioned it was ironwood from the Sonoran desert. That got my interest, so I asked him to e-mail me some pics of it...I might be interested. He sent the pics, I consulted our resident desert ironwood expert (Barry Richardson), and to make a long story short, this followed me home yesterday:
And the other side...
This end has a hollow in it that goes halfway (or more) into the stump...
Here's the root end. You can see a face that was cut a few years ago, and it's barely checked...
Barry warned me that these old stumps can sometimes be disappointing once they're opened up due to checking, but this one doesn't seem too checked looking at the ends, so I'm hoping it'll have some good blanks in it. He also told me processed blanks are selling for between $4 and $8 per pound. After moving it around (I love the lift gate on my truck) I'm guessing this piece weighs about 150 pounds. I paid less than $0.70 per pound. A fair amount of the wood will end up being waste, but I should be able to make my money back selling pen and bottle stopper blanks on eBay if need be. I'm just hoping there's some nice figure and color inside. Barry said that some of these old logs get pretty dark with age.
The guy I bought it from is a true wood art aficionado, with some beautiful wooden (and ceramic) vessels displayed in his living room. (The house looked like it was straight out of Sunset Magazine.) He also had a couple of awesome coffee tables, including one with a 4" thick slab of redwood burl about 3' x 6' in size. Assuming there are some workable blanks in the ironwod log, I'll be making something for him, too. I'll probably crack it open in the next day or so, but I won't really get any blanks processed until I order a few new bandsaw blades. Based on what Barry told me, I expect to go through a few. He says the chainsaw can handle it, but I'll need to be sharpening it every few cuts.