Geographical Distribution

The scientific name for the tree that produces the timber commonly known as Transvaal Beech is Faurea saligna. In various local languages, the Transvaal Beech can also be known as, although not limited to: willow beechwood, African beech (Eng.); Bosveldboekenhout (Afrikans.); iSefu, umCalathole (Zulu); isiDwadwa, umOnyeli (Ndebele); mohlako, mongena (Northern Sotho); muTango (Venda).

Transvaal Beech Stylus Pens
Transvaal Beech Stylus Pens

As the common name implies, the wood is native to southern Africa, spreading from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, down to the North-West Province, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal (all provinces of South Africa) as well as appearing in Swaziland, which neighbors the areas of South Africa where the tree is commonly found. Some sources report that the tree is also widespread as far north as Tanzania and Kenya and as far west as Nigeria, although it is primarily reported in the southern part of the African continent. Regardless, the tree is reported to be widespread and prefers to grow in sandy or red loamy soils. It will tolerate somewhat dry conditions including rocky ridges and is moderately resistant to fire of low intensity. Continue reading

Geographical Distribution

The wood that was sold to me as Silky Oak was sourced from Australia, but as to where exactly in Australia, I cannot say. This uncertainty is due to confusion as to which actual genus and species of tree the wood I used was harvested from as there are at least two timber trees in Australia whose wood may be sold under the name Silky Oak. In addition, at least one retailer is selling Greville sp from Indonesia under the common name Silky Oak. To make matters more confusing, wood from either of the Australian trees may also be sold as “lacewood,” a descriptive term that can include numerous other woods including woods from South America, as well as, apparently, any wood which displays characteristic figure resembling, at least to some viewers, lace. To put it mildly, identifying any one piece of wood identified no more specifically than “silky oak” or “lacewood” may not be possible without submission to a specialist, or potentially through the use of genetic testing, which is beyond the means and needs of most wood turners.

Silky Oak Stylus Pens
Silky Oak Stylus Pens

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Lyptus® Bowl

Lyptus® is perhaps an unusual choice for turning material if for no other reason than the fact that Lyptus® itself is unique in the world. Lyptus®, as the registered trademark symbol indicates, is a trademarked product name that itself is patent protected. Lyptus® represents a man-made hybrid tree that never occurred in nature, a combination of Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla.2014-10-26 18.32.16 Continue reading

Zebrawood Bowl

This was my first time using Zebrawood, Microberlinia brazzavillensis, in a bowl blank size, having previously only worked with it as pen blanks. Zebrawood is certainly harder than many domestic species, harder than red oak or maple, and only slightly less hard than Wenge, a very hard wood I have recently worked with. Zebrawood is noted as being splintery and prone to tearout due to the very feature that makes it desirable, the wavy and colorful figure of dark streaks that run through the otherwise lightly colored wood.2014-10-25 19.20.55 Continue reading

Flame Birch Bowl

Yellow Birch is a common utility wood that is most often seen in plywood form where it is commonly used in cabinetry, especially for kitchens. The wood is usually quite straight grained, uniform in color, or lack of color, and is incredibly easy to work. Large veneer sheets are peeled off of logs and then glued on to even cheaper backer sheets to form birch plywood. However, rarely, a Yellow Birch log will be found with grain that isn’t straight and boring, but which instead, for reasons unknown, is twisted and formed into a figure known as “flame.” This bowl was made from a piece from such a log.2014-10-24 18.38.29 Continue reading

Several years ago, on the occasion of my sister’s wedding, I was in Chico, California and Dad and I went to a local lumber yard, that for some reason quite unknown to me, carries exotic lumber.  We purchased two pieces of 2″x6″ lumber of the minimum 4 foot length, one piece of Paduak and one piece of Purpleheart.  These were later cut into 6″ square turning blanks.  I most recently used one of the Paduak blanks from this purchase to make a small bowl.2014-10-22 18.13.46

I have discussed the characteristics and origins of Paduak elsewhere, so I will not repeat myself here.  This was the first time, however, that I have worked with a Paduak piece larger than a pen or bottle stopper blank and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

I was please to discover that as has been true of the smaller pieces, Paduak is a wood turners dream material.  It turns very finely with little end grain tearing.  It sands like a dream, even though the wood is quite visible porous and it is important to note that those pores will not sand out.  The pores are an integral part of the wood itself.  And of course Paduak by its very nature is a beautiful color of reddish orange, the depth of the color will vary by the piece obviously.  And don’t forget the delightful scent of bubblegum when it is freshly turned!

I was hesitant to put a finish on the piece since I didn’t want to dim the color, but I found that a coating of Shellawax enhanced the color without dimming it in the least.  I was certain that I didn’t want to use a paste finish due to the porosity of the Paduak wood; I was fearful that a paste wax would gum up in the pores and dull the piece.  The liquid base of Shellawax flowed nicely over the pores and created a deeper color and shine than was possible with no treatment at all.2014-10-22 18.14.14

Sadly, I know that the color will likely fade over time, even quicker if exposed to direct light, but while the wonderful color lasts, this bowl should be a joy to someone whenever they look at it or touch its smooth surface!  I will absolutely look forward to working with Paduak again the near future.

Canarywood Bowl

Canarywood, usually from trees of the Centrolobium spp, is a tropical hardwood from Central and South America. I have worked with Canarywood in the past, mostly in pen blank form, but this is the first time I have successfully completed a bowl size piece using this wood. I was pleased with the ease of the overall process and satisfied with the outcome upon completing the work.2014-10-20 18.04.59

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