Wood Library - Boxwood

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Blog entry by GaryK posted 05-20-2008 03:08 AM 10446 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Boxwood – Buxus sempervirens

Long used to make model ships in the 15th and 16th centuries . These ships were then used as the models to make full size ships. Stanley Tools has long used it for their folding rules. Also used for engravings for printing applications and used for musical instruments.

It has extremely fine texture, easy to carve and turn but difficult to split, color uniform light yellow. It’s also very strong and hard. It will not splinter.

There are a lot of different woods sold as boxwood the main being English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) which is a true boxwood.

There is another one called South American Boxwood (gossypiopermum praecox) while not a true boxwood it’s as good as the English.

The wood is loved by model makers because the grain is so fine it’s almost not there.

It works well with any SHARP tool. It doesn’t really tear or split but kind of shatters when forced to break. It’s not very flexible. It will polish to a high sheen.

There is another type called Loatian Boxwood from Laos. It’s not a real boxwood, but has some of the same characteristics, except it is very flexible. Only one shipment arrived in the port of Los Angeles about 1990 and it’s almost gone. It’s very hard to find anymore.

I bought 50 pounds of logs for $1 a pound about 1995. I know of only two places in the country that still has some.
This is a piece of the Loatian boxwood. You can see it in log form and cut in half. It’s amazing what you can find in the worst looking log. Note the bark is less than 1/16” thick. The other boxwoods look like it on the inside.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

7 comments so far

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 3903 days

#1 posted 05-20-2008 03:46 AM

Great description of another wood I have never worked with, Gary. I do have a 60 yr old Stanley folding rule that belonged to my grandfather. Now I know what it was made from!

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 3761 days

#2 posted 05-20-2008 12:11 PM

Thanks, Gary, great info. What’s your plans for the Loatian Boxwood? And, I expect that it is heavy so how much wood is in 50 pounds?

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3797 days

#3 posted 05-20-2008 12:22 PM

thanks for the description. I’ve never really known that much about boxwood, I’ve heard of it but didn’t know mush about it. well i guess that that’s the beauty of this wood dictionary thing! thanks for the post.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4356 days

#4 posted 05-20-2008 03:48 PM

my parents have a boxwood tree in their yard. (about 6 or 7 feet tall) I’d love to make something for them out of it (the wood, not the tree – It’ll be a LONG time before any branches are even big enough to prune.

really enjoying this dictionary.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4017 days

#5 posted 05-22-2008 01:50 AM

TedM – I have been using in bits and pieces over the years. The logs are about 3 feet and you can cradle 50 pounds in your arms.

TomK – If you can still read your grandfathers rule it will was BOXWOOD right on it.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View collier's profile


5 posts in 3534 days

#6 posted 10-21-2008 07:40 AM

This Lao boxwood… has it been known as Thai boxwood as well? do you happen to know the scientific name?

-- Prof L.Collier Hyams, Art Music and Theater Department, Georgetown University

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4017 days

#7 posted 10-21-2008 03:58 PM

It may be called Thai Boxwood also, though I have never heard it called that.
Thailand and Laos are neighbors.

I wish I had the scientific name.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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