However, due to the commercial scarcity of some woods, resorting to auction sites such as Ebay or Etsy may be the only way to obtain some desirable domestic, or in some cases exotic imported, species that are not routinely commercially harvested. The potential risks of buying in these marketplaces have to be balanced against the desire to work with a specific species of wood. That is inherently an individual decision.
I also realize that many, if not most, wood workers do not have endangered species lists memorized, therefore I think it worthwhile and important to do even a small amount of research before purchasing any lumber, domestic as well as imported, to be certain of the potential impact you are having, even in a small way, on threatened or endangered populations. This information is easy to come by and takes only minutes to locate through any Internet search engine, including those you can access on your phone as you are standing in the lumber yard or store. Unfortunately, you simply cannot count on a vendor to tell you a product they are selling is endangered.
Aside from the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, there have been some adverse health effects associated with Myrtle. Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Myrtle has been reported to be a skin irritant as well as a sensitizer.
It is important to remember that although many people may, or may not, be sensitive to any given wood, the only experience that truly counts is your own, so use reported side effects as guidance but not as a substitute for cautious and safe practices.
Appropriate protective equipment is therefore always recommended when working with this, or any other, wood, exotic or domestic, unless you have worked with the species before and are certain you are not sensitive to it.
Complete information about health hazards associated with a wide variety of exotic hardwoods is available from The Wood Database. Additional information about how to best use a dust collection system and personal protective equipment, such as respirators, can also be found through this excellent and comprehensive resource.
Fortunately, I experienced no significant difficulties while working with Myrtle.
My Personal Experiences:
I’d never worked with Myrtle before but I had read good things about it as a turning wood and I was delighted to discover that all the good things I’d heard were absolutely spot on. My piece has a mix of heart and sap wood so there is a nice color change on one side. Myrtle cut super clean and required only very light sanding to achieve a very nice and smooth finish. The Shellawax went on quite nicely which is usually the case with the harder woods. And the scent, sweet and spicy, is quite delightful in its own right.
I so enjoyed working with Myrtle that I did a quick search to find more pieces and while I was easily successful in finding sources I decided that the cost was prohibitive especially considering how many turning blanks I already own. But someday when I am looking for new wood I will most certainly keep Myrtle at the top of my list.
All major cuts were made using the Easy Wood Tool system on my Robust American Beauty lathe, although I do use Robert Sorby bowl gouges for light final passes before sanding. Forward chucking was in a Nova Chuck, while reverse chucking was done using a Nova Chuck with Cole Jaws. Sanding was with Gold and Green Wave sanding discs from Packard Woodworks. Final finish is Shellawax.