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Thread: Iron Wood v. Oak Question

  1. #1
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    Iron Wood v. Oak Question

    I have someone who is going to have a truck load of Iron wood and Oak freshly cut soon and he called to see if I wanted to get any of it before he cuts it up into firewood. I live in So Calif and the heat is on us now this time of year and I really do not have a way to store it except outside in the shade and im sure the heat will ruin it.

    Has anyone turned Iron wood ? Im told that it has a pink or red tint to it but turns well ...............thoughts ?

    I am wondering if I got the logs whole and cut the pith out, rounded them out on my bandsaw, put anchor seal on them and put them in a trash can in my garage how long they would keep without cracking out in the Calif heat................I hate to pass it up but I not sure i can preserve that much without running into problems............on the other hand I have some Mesquite from a yr ago still in rounded sealed condition still good....but I did lose some ....................aahhhhhh darn.........
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  2. #2
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    It is good for making wood planes among other things. Mesquite is good as well

    Sorry Dan, as I'm no turner I just take the water to my mill
    Best regards,
    Toni

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  3. #3
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    Hello Dan,

    I would like to get a some chunks of the ironwood if possible. Is the oak you noted California live oak? I don't know if anyone else in the LA/OC area would like some, maybe we can work something out. It would be a shame if it goes into the burn pile.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dan Gonzales; 06-09-2010 at 06:31 AM.
    Dan Gonzales
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Dona nobis pacem

  4. #4
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    Define "Iron Wood"
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
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    According to wikipedia:
    Any particular wood that has a reputation for hardness. Usage of the name may (or may not) include the tree that yields this wood. Species involved include:

    * Acacia estrophiolata, Southern ironwood
    * Androstachys johnsonii, Lebombo ironwood
    * Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam
    * Casuarina equisetifolia, Common ironwood from Australia
    * Casuarinaceae (she-oaks) in general
    * Chionanthus foveolatus , Pock ironwood from South Africa
    * Choricarpia subargentea, Giant ironwood
    * Copaifera spp., Diesel Tree, Kerosene Tree, Kupa'y, Cabismo, or Copa˙va
    * Diospyros blancoi, Mabolo, Velvet Apple, or Kamagong native to the Philippines
    * Erythrophleum chlorostachys, Cooktown ironwood from Australia.
    * Eusideroxylon zwageri, Borneo ironwood
    * Guaiacum officinale, Lignum vitae
    * Guaiacum sanctum, Holywood
    * Holodiscus discolor, Creambrush
    * Hopea odorata, White thingan, Ceylon or Malabar ironwood
    * Krugiodendron ferreum, Black Ironwood
    * Lyonothamnus floribundus, Lyon tree
    * Lyonothamnus lyonii, Catalina ironwood
    * Mesua ferrea, Rose chestnut or Ceylon ironwood or Nahar
    * Nestegis apetala, Coastal maire, Broad-leaved maire or Ironwood
    * Olea spp., Various olive trees
    * Olneya tesota, Desert ironwood
    * Ostrya virginiana, Hop hornbeam
    * Parrotia persica, Persian ironwood
    * Tabebuia serratifolia, Yellow poui
    * Xanthostemon verdugonianus, Philippine Ironwood or Mangkono, endemic to the Philippines

    Lots of information that in this case doesn't help much I guess
    Best regards,
    Toni

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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  6. #6
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    "Ironwood" is typically any dried/seasoned wood that sinks in water. For southern California these are the natives I am familiar with:

    "Many of the native hardwood trees and shrubs in the southwestern United States were used by Indians and early settlers in a variety of ways. Logs of the hardest woods, including desert ironwood (Olneya tesota) and mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), were used as fuel, burning for hours and giving off intense heat before they turned into fine white ashes. The wood of native oaks, particularly the canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis), were used by early pioneers for wedges (with iron-rimmed heads) for splitting redwood ties, and for the heads of mauls (heavy wood mallets). During the days of wooden carriages and wagon building, canyon live oak was a prized wood for singletrees, axles and wheels."
    Last edited by Dan Gonzales; 06-09-2010 at 09:32 AM.
    Dan Gonzales
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Dona nobis pacem

  7. #7
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    Dan M, if it's desert ironwood, then it'll already be dry. (Or it will if it was harvested legally, since you can't harvest live trees, as far as I know.) I don't think you'd need to worry about cracking if that's the case, although it may well already have cracks. But as Toni pointed out, there are a boatload of different woods called "ironwood", so your mileage may vary.

    If it's like any of the fresh oak I've found out here (likely canyon live oak), it'll probably be prone to cracking as it dries. All of mine sure was.

    Given the choice between the two, I'd take the ironwood. It turns well, but it requires sharp tools. It also dulls them pretty quickly. Most of the ironwood I've turned I simply sanded and buffed, with no finish applied other than Renaissance wax, applied by hand. (Ren wax isn't intended for hot application like carnauba wax.) Buffed and waxed, it polishes to a high gloss much like ebony.
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  8. #8
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    Ya see that is the problem, lots of wood gets called "Iron Wood".

    I have some Dessert Iron wood, I got it Barry Richardson in a flat rate box, it is super nice to turn, almost like a plastic it is that dense, and really pretty too.

    What I know as "Iron Wood" is Lignum Vitae, or Guayacan, Palo santo.

    Some facts on this wood:
    SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 1.05

    DENSITY:
    77 - 82 lbs./cu.ft.

    TANGENTIAL MOVEMENT: 2.5%

    RADIAL MOVEMENT: n/a%

    VOLUMETRIC SHRINKAGE: n.a%

    DURABILITY: Exceptional resistance to moisture and fungal attack

    SOURCE: West Indes, Central America, northern South America

    DESCRIPTION:
    One of the hardest and heaviest woods (three times as hard as oak), lignum vitae is most commonly used for mallet heads, bearings and rollers. Because of its durability and natural lubricants, it is the preferred wood for propeller bushings and other underwater applications. The lignum vitae tree generally grows to a diameter of about 12", although historically, trees in the 18" - 30" range have been known.

    Lignum vitae is reddish brown when freshly cut, with pale yellow sapwood. As it oxidizes, the color turns to a deep green, often with black details. The grain is highly interlocked, making it difficult to work with edge tools, but it machines well and takes a high polish. It is a remarkably good wood for turning.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Mosley View Post
    I have someone who is going to have a truck load of Iron wood and Oak freshly cut soon and he called to see if I wanted to get any of it before he cuts it up into firewood. I live in So Calif and the heat is on us now this time of year and I really do not have a way to store it except outside in the shade and im sure the heat will ruin it.
    Dan,
    I can't comment on the woods.. I know there are a number of woods called iron wood, but not enough knowledge to be of any use to you.... on the storage.. I have a rather large pile of wood in back of my shop that I've collected... it's mostly maple, cherry, oak, willow, hackberry and some I've forgotten... I know I'm losing some of it, but it's stored on blocks so it's off the ground and covered with a tarp... doesn't look all that pretty, but I live in the country where everyone has stuff stored around so I guess I'm in line with the rest of the neighbors... Most of the woods are holding up pretty good even after a couple of years. The wood is still mostly in log form with the ends painted in Anchorseal.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
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  10. #10
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    If it is the desert ironwood like we have around Phoenix, you should get at least some of it. My experience is even if fresh cut, is not very green or wet. It will most likely be hollow around the pith so don't expect large pieces from even a large trunk. You may have better luck if it has been in an environment with a regular water source. I have read it has a high silica content and know it can dull a bandsaw blade in no time at all. What I have seen is medium to dark brown with reddish to yellow streaks, and occasionally some lighter sapwood - but not too much. As Vaughn said, it polishes up great with no finish. Because of the low moisture content while living, it is pretty stable. Very small pieces sell around here for knife handles by the pound, at pretty high prices. I think it would be great for finials, etc. and if you get a piece big enough for a bowl or vessel, it should be a beaut. I got mine from a tree from road expansion. The reason I was given was they are very hard to transplant and survive.

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