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