From our blog on Easy Wood Tools, and meeting Rory Curtis, comes a story about a woodworker and an extraordinary individual. I am fortunate to have had the humbling experience to learn about Bob Kennedy’s story, and speak with him personally as Bob has been completely blind since the age of 12.
So you’ve decided to rough turn or carve a green (wet) project, and set it aside to dry. Did you realize the wood may contain over 250% more water before it is dried, depending upon it’s size and mass? Over the long period of time it may take to air dry your project, it can develop grain cracks and checks if not protected. What are checks in the wood? Well, they’re not cashable checks to take to the bank, but end grain splits that can be prevented allowing you to reap the benefits of a beautifully finished item that can be profitable! Both cracks and checks can be fixed by cutting out those areas and replacing with segmented glue-ups, but perhaps that’s not what you had in mind.
Before a tree becomes a beautiful and useful piece of furniture, turning, or carving, it starts as a living, breathing part of nature for the eyes to behold. As it develops in height, it also grows in diameter producing rings which give away it’s age like that of wrinkles on a human face.
Our most recently delivery of Gaboon Ebony (Diospyros Spp.) is native to Western Africa and can now be purchased in a variety of sizes with 23 item offerings from Woodcraft, making it much easier to find the right size for any project. The exceptional quality of this batch was worth the wait. The heartwood is usually jet black, with little to no variation of visible grain. Occasionally dark brown streaks may be present. Can be difficult to work with due to its extremely high density. It is dense enough to sink in water and has a dully effect on cutters. It takes a finish well and has a high luster. Ebony is commonly used for ornamental purposes due to its price and available sizes. We have a selection of large sizes. The species has a long history of use, with carvings found dating back to the ancient Egyptians. In the 16th century fine cabinets were made of ebony. Makers of these cabinets in Paris were known as ebenistes, which remains the French term for a cabinetmaker. Ebony is commonly used for small ornamental purposes, such as piano keys, musical instrument parts, pool cues, carvings. Great for knobs, pulls, inlays and accents in cabinetry. Somewhat difficult to machine, but worth the reward and is excellent turning wood.
Ancient Kauri from New Zealand is the oldest workable wood in the world. Tsunamis leveled the mighty Kauri thousands of years ago and they have been preserved underground in the top half of the North Island of New Zealand for more than 45,000 years. The further north they are found, research has shown the older the Kauri is.
If you look around the room you’re in, chances are you can see edge banding on some of the furniture or trim in the room. That’s because it is almost always easier and more practical to build large projects with plywood. For furniture or other decorative pieces, plywood is a less expensive alternative to solid wood and it is dimensionally stable so you don’t have to worry about expansion or warping.
Ever gone on a snipe hunt? You just go into the woods on a moonless night with a burlap bag and then the fun begins… at your expense. A ‘Snipe Hunt’ is a practical joke where inexperienced campers hear about the fun of hunting snipe and are sent out to bag the quarry, often while banging rocks together and yelling into the night. It’s great fun for the pranksters but not so much for the one being fooled.
Splits in wood can bring out mixed reactions. An optimist would see it as adding character and interest to the wood. A pessimist would only see a defect that makes the wood less valuable and attractive. It’s all perspective; if you are a homeowner and you have a split in your hardwood floor you are likely to be a pessimist. On the other hand, a craftsman might be optimistic that a split will enhance the value of an artistic piece.
Craftsmen have been decorating with veneer for thousands of years. It has been used for exquisite classical furniture and unfortunately at times it was used to cover up shoddy furniture construction. Lately, wood veneering has been on the upswing both as a way to create elegant inlaid patterns and to extend the supply of exotic hardwoods. With modern adhesives and substrates, veneering is a viable alternative to solid wood construction.