Snakewood Letter Opener

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Project by GaryK posted 03-28-2008 06:31 AM 4017 views 6 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is not so much to show off the project itself but the wood it’s made from.

That wood is snakewood from Surinam. I think that it’s the only place it can be found and usually sold
for about $20 per pound.

It’s an incredibly hard and closed pore wood with a striking snake like pattern.

I bought a handfull of scraps a long time ago and made this letter opener from a piece. There is no finish on it.
I just sanded it to about 600 grit and then buffed it with a buffing wheel. I did this about 9 years ago and
have used it daily for all that time and it still looks like it did the day I first made it.

It actually holds a good edge.

A fantastic example of a great wood.

For all that are interested in making one here is a template. Just print it out.

Here's a 1:1 PDF File

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

29 comments so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 2793 days

#1 posted 03-28-2008 06:35 AM

Wow the figure is beautiful! It has held its edge all these years, amazing!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Karson's profile


34987 posts in 3439 days

#2 posted 03-28-2008 07:34 AM

Great looking Gary. I might have to make a couple.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Roz's profile


1684 posts in 2825 days

#3 posted 03-28-2008 08:02 AM

That is really neat wood. I have never seen anything like it. Those tropical hardwoods are really hard. Great post. Can you buy this at hardwood supplies?

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Grumpy's profile


20617 posts in 2890 days

#4 posted 03-28-2008 09:04 AM

Interesting wood Gary. Looks like a lasting design on the letter opener.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 2811 days

#5 posted 03-28-2008 10:49 AM

Great wood, and you say it has held it’s edge all this time! Thanks for posting this project.

-- --Chuck

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2861 days

#6 posted 03-28-2008 11:44 AM


Interesting project. The wood is gorgeous.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 2919 days

#7 posted 03-28-2008 12:06 PM

thanks gary , thats some really nice looking wood !

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 2769 days

#8 posted 03-28-2008 01:23 PM

I like the grain. Too hard to carve though. Thanks!

-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Ad Marketing Guy - Bill's profile

Ad Marketing Guy - Bill

314 posts in 2837 days

#9 posted 03-28-2008 01:31 PM

GREAT example of knowing what to do to bring out the features and attributes of a wood.
The project is simple but what you have done by working the finish naturally is truly amazing. NICE Job.

-- Bill - - Ad-Marketing Guy, Ramsey NJ

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3060 days

#10 posted 03-28-2008 01:36 PM

Gary , how old would that wood have to be before they harvest it?
Can you see the Growth rings on any of it?


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

766 posts in 3213 days

#11 posted 03-28-2008 02:51 PM

Great use of snakewood, Gary! That stuff is about as expensive and difficult to come by as bog oak!

FYI, a splinter from snakewood can cause an infection in less than four hours. Ask me how I know…

-- Ethan,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16097 posts in 3257 days

#12 posted 03-28-2008 03:14 PM

This is a great use for a small but beautiful piece of wood, Gary.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View NDwoodworker's profile


48 posts in 2773 days

#13 posted 03-28-2008 03:25 PM

little scraps make great projects, good work

-- Stuart, North Dakota

View USCJeff's profile


1058 posts in 3107 days

#14 posted 03-28-2008 04:52 PM

Glad Ethan posted the snakewood warning. Always nice to know these things. I wasn’t aware that Cocobolo was an irritant to a large percentage of people. myself included. Great work as always Gary. I have several small strips of a couple exotics I couldn’t throw away. I think I’ll give this idea a go soon. How well does it work? You mentioned it held a decent edge. . .

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Valerii's profile


146 posts in 2768 days

#15 posted 03-28-2008 04:58 PM

Great work Gary and the wood is outstanding. I`ve never seen the wood something like that.

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