Is this Lignum Vitae?

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Forum topic by amagineer posted 09-26-2011 09:55 PM 5965 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 2799 days

09-26-2011 09:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lignum vitae question

I just purchased this piece of wood from an tag sale and was told by the guy it was “Lignum Vitae”. The piece measures 15 3/4×8 1/2×1 9/16 thk and weighs 10 lbs. I do not know what to use it for, because of it’s hardness. If anyone can help I would be appreciated. Thanks Don

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

14 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 09-26-2011 10:03 PM

because of its hardness and resistance characteristics as well as the difficulties in machining it I would be prone to use it for tools (mallets/handles/etc) and smaller items more than for anything else.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4420 days

#2 posted 09-26-2011 10:04 PM

It’s about three times as hard as red oak. It can be used for mallets, plane soles, or anything else where hardness is important.

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

View degoose's profile


7245 posts in 3556 days

#3 posted 09-26-2011 10:13 PM

It was used for bearings for shafts on ships…. drive shafts that is…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View EPJartisan's profile


1122 posts in 3327 days

#4 posted 09-26-2011 11:34 PM

HOLY COW… how often do you see a disk of Lignum…. I would never cut that up!!! Talk about perfect for a platter.. maybe even two or three if you can re-saw them. Personally I want to make that into one of my spiraling cones with those dimensions it could be over 60 inches tall. sigh.. have fun no matter what you make :)

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3270 days

#5 posted 09-26-2011 11:46 PM

The only use I know of is propeller shaft seals on navel ships. LV is incredibly durable and slightly waxy. In my eight year naval career, I don’t think I ever saw a leaky shaft seal.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3067 days

#6 posted 09-26-2011 11:46 PM

See if it sinks in water, if it doesnt then its not.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4162 days

#7 posted 09-27-2011 12:18 AM

Ditto EPJartsan. What a bowl that would make. It should have a bunch of wax or oil on it as it is now. It will make a beautiful art piece. I would not cut that puppy into pieces. See if you can use it as a single display form ( or send it to me.) That stuff is very hard and dense.
Great haul.


View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 3000 days

#8 posted 09-27-2011 03:40 AM

It sure looks like it.

When I had my shipyard, the Babbitt bearings on bandsaw gave up. I had some Lignum Vitae around, left over from making deadeyes and blocks, so I had some new bearings made from it at a machine shop. They were amazing. The saw never ran so smooth.

It is also a traditional wood for ships fittings like deadeyes, blocks, belaying pins and high wear areas.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3125 days

#9 posted 09-27-2011 03:53 AM

I remember a “screw feeder” that had this for bearings. This feeder was used for limestone and the bearings worked very well.

-- Life is good.

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3637 days

#10 posted 09-27-2011 04:28 AM

I served my apprenticeship at an engineering company that had a wood shop purchased from a very old company – Dyne & Evens Ltd and was devoted to making ship’s and yacht blocks and other nautical items such as oars and rigging pins. They used a great deal of Lignum Vitae for their blocks.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 2799 days

#11 posted 09-27-2011 09:45 AM

Thanks for all the comments. I am still not sure what I am going to make , a bowl would be nice but a lot of waste of a unique piece. It would make a nice base for a carving, but I cannot carve due to my medical condition. Maybe I can sell it; Im not even sure what something like this would go for.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4162 days

#12 posted 09-27-2011 09:55 PM

Just send it to me. I’ll work up an estimate based on waste, sanding needs, wear on tools, time in the shop (at $500.00/hr), lunch, and begging time to my bride. Sure! That’s gonna happen…....


View Rockbuster's profile


499 posts in 2810 days

#13 posted 09-30-2011 09:22 PM

Hey Don! That thing looks like a petrified round steak. Just kidding. What ever you make out of it, I would try and use it as one piece. I know that you make a lot of nice cutting boards, maybe a nice cheese cutting board from this one.

-- Rockbuster,Ft. Wayne,In It is far better to remain silent, and appear the fool, than it is to open ones mouth, and remove all doubt.

View Taylor23's profile


1 post in 1442 days

#14 posted 01-02-2015 03:59 PM

Hi Don,
Is this piece still available? How about $120 plus shipping? I live right above you in VT.


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