Before I start slashing away and chopping with my chainsaw, i thought it best to first do my homework and find out as much about the Blackwood tree as possible. The more I know about it, the better I can handle it….
Someone on another forum gave me some great advice and tips on working with Blackwood trees as well as what I picked up off the internet….
1. Native to Tasmania and East Australia but an invasive species that was introduced into Africa and apparently my farm also.
2. Trees range from 65-100ft (20-20m) tall and 2-3ft (0.6 – 1m) in diameter. Not sure of the dimensions on the tree I will be using but I’ll measure it up!
3. Average dried weight 40lbs/ cubic feet or 640kg/ cubic metre
4. Volumetric shrinkage 11.9% and Radial shrinkage 3.9%
5. Rated as moderately durable regarding decay resistance, though susceptible to insect attack.
6. Australian Blackwood is easily worked with both hand and machine tools, though figured wood and pieces with interlocked grain can cause tearout. Australian Blackwood turns, glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending. Has variable gluing properties.
7. This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
8. Although called “Blackwood,” the name is somewhat of a misnomer, as its wood is not at all black. Rather, its lustrous golden brown grain has been used as a sustainable alternative to Koa. The species has been introduced to a number of regions worldwide—either as an ornamental shade tree, or on a plantation for lumber—and in many areas, the hardy tree species has become an invasive species.
9. Sufficient drying period can range from 6 months to 18 months. Depending on conditions. If the wood were to be used in semi-outdoor conditions the drying period can be 6 months. If the wood were to be placed indoors under a controlled environment then the wood must be dried for around 18 months to prevent further shrinkage and splitting. Drying is best done through “air-drying”, pre cutting the wood and drying it out on rafters, either in a shed or under cover. Spacing between rafters is vital to prevent sagging during drying.
10. Trees with a diameter at breast height over 80cm tend to have the best wood without any defects once its halved. This is because the tree has a firmer base from which to support the upper half of the tree causing less stress and strain during winds and growth.
With all this in mind and still a lot more to learn, I am getting excited that the Blackwood tree will make a fine bar one day. Now the search for that perfect tree to turn into my bar begins…...
-- If you don't try....how will you know!