Monkey Puzzle Mantel

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Project by JayG46 posted 08-22-2013 11:29 AM 2260 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project done for a friend of the family on commission. I pitched a live edge mantel using locally harvested wood and ended up picking Monkey Puzzle which is also known as Chilean Pine (although it is not technically a pine). It is both ancient since it has existed since the time of the dinosaurs and endangered since its tall, straight trunks made it very attractive as a lumber species in its native Chile and Argentina. It was planted as an ornamental tree in the St. Petersburg area and harvested by a company called Viable Lumber that specializes in urban-harvested wood.

Down here in Southern Florida, there is a dearth of quality woodworking trees. Most of what grows naturally is palm, southern yellow pine, cypress and live oak. The first two aren’t really suited for woodworking and the latter two are illegal to harvest, at least down here. As a result, almost everything is an “exotic” wood by the time it arrives here because it has to be cut elsewhere and shipped, though not necessarily across international lines. Viable Lumber attempts to fill that void and caters to a variety of furniture makers, cabinet shops, woodturners and the like.

The construction of the mantel was pretty straight forward. The triangular corbels are mortised into the slab and are mounted to the wall via a sliding dovetail. The finish is boiled linseed oil with multiple top coats of a mineral oil and beeswax mixture. In the first picture, there is a small bowl/platter I turned out of some leftover material.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

5 comments so far

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1983 days

#1 posted 08-22-2013 11:50 AM

There is lots of good wood in SoFlo. You just don’t know what to harvest ! There is tons of Mahogany( both native and Honduran-giant seed), Tabebuia impetiginosa(Ipe) T.Rosea,Cordia (Orange Geiger),Carya illinoensis,Bald Cypress.
Go do your homework. Many of those are exotics from my neck of the world but grow well there.
The genius ””landscapers”” ( like Jungle Boy) plant them 2 feet apart and five feet from the house and they wind up being removed and mulched because they don’t know what it is either !

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View JayG46's profile


139 posts in 2092 days

#2 posted 08-22-2013 12:59 PM

Loco – thanks a lot for the info, I will definitely look into those species.

The guys at Viable Lumber are trying to fill that void and get usable stock out of trees that would have just been brought to the landfill. They’ve got a lot of cool stuff including red eucalyptus, sisso rosewood, camphor, monkey pod, etc.

I’m down in Naples and Collier County has pretty strict regulations and millions of acres that are protected, so there isn’t much of a supply of wood of any kind locally. There aren’t even any real hardwood distributors, we buy most of our regular domestic lumber from a place in Miami that delivers.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View woodNfish's profile


51 posts in 3292 days

#3 posted 08-22-2013 03:36 PM

What is wrong with palm wood? Palm is hard and dense. It does not have a grain like regular wood because it is really a grass, but it can still be machined. If I lived in Florida, I would certainly entertain the idea of using palm.

-- woodNfish

View JayG46's profile


139 posts in 2092 days

#4 posted 08-23-2013 10:26 AM

woodNfish -

I’ve never seen palm being sold around here at all, even for utility wood. From a marketing perspective, it could certainly be used an asset since people are always interested in buying something that was made and sourced locally.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View Spencer's profile


30 posts in 2289 days

#5 posted 08-24-2013 04:07 AM

Cool looking piece!

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