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How to Work Ebony?

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Forum topic by CartersWhittling posted 948 days ago 1512 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1260 days


948 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question gaboon ebony

Hello. I just bought a small amount of gaboon ebony for a picture frame. The frame is japanese inspired with half lap joints in the corners, similar to this picture.

The ebony was partially air dried and is coated with wax. The store I bought it from has atmoshpere conditions the same as where I live. I am wondering how to go about working it. How long should I let it sit before milling, should I roughly mill then let it sit for some time, etc…? The blanks themselves are about an inch thick and 2” – 3” wide. Also, what glue should I use to join the half laps?

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

-Curt

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/


12 replies so far

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1279 days


#1 posted 948 days ago

I’ve worked a fair bit with ebony, mostly on the lathe. If you’ve never used it before, you’re in for a real treat. On the lathe, it’s a blast. It also handplanes beautifully. I’m sure that given the oil content, there’s a particularly appropriate glue, but I’m unaware of it. I heated the surfaces a tad to drive out the oil, wiped it down, then used good ole Tightbond III. Good luck1

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

936 posts in 2393 days


#2 posted 948 days ago

I use ebony in my clocks and Bertha’s comments above are spot on. I use titebond and never had a problem. Don’t need to wait before milling. And, do put some on the lathe just to see how well it turns. A thing of beauty. Absolutely love working with ebony.

-- Max the "night janitor" at www.hardwoodclocks.com

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10256 posts in 1592 days


#3 posted 948 days ago

Ive used acetone on oily woods to clean the surface before gluing, it was cypress to be specific. Ive never worked with ebony though.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1006 days


#4 posted 948 days ago

Ditto on acetone before gluing. It allows a better adhesion.

In violins, the only acceptable glue for purists is hide glue. (Allows disassembly for repairs)

Scrapers and planes do well with ebony. Not sure what the hardness score is, but it is way up there.
Titebond works well for more permanent adhesion.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View CartersWhittling's profile

CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1260 days


#5 posted 948 days ago

Thanks for the advice. I also just emailed the shop I bought the wood from asking them the same question.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3322 posts in 2546 days


#6 posted 948 days ago

WHAT???? Ya don’t believe us? Jokin’!!!!
Acetone and a pva glue will do ya just fine.
I like the design, and will we get a chance to see the finished product.
I forgot. Can I have the off cuts?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1260 days


#7 posted 948 days ago

haha no. I am keeping my expensive off cuts. I will post the picture and frame when it is done. The picture that the frame is for, is a sketch of a tiger that I drew. It is going to be a gift for my mother.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2510 days


#8 posted 948 days ago

I have worked with Makassar Ebony or Kamagong from the Philippines and I agree it works real nice and glued up without problem. You can see pictures in my projects. http://lumberjocks.com/wmodavis/projects and http://lumberjocks.com/wmodavis/blog/20640

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4328 posts in 1622 days


#9 posted 945 days ago

You might notice that I use it a lot in my projects, glued with PVA. No problems. If you’re really worried about it wipe with white spirit (mineralised spirit) and allow that to evaporate off before gluing.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View CartersWhittling's profile

CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1260 days


#10 posted 945 days ago

Alright thanks. After contacting the shop I bought the wood from they said the lumber should be stable. They just recommended to rough mill it and let it sit for some time just to be safe. I have Titebond III so I will use that.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/

View tnwood's profile

tnwood

192 posts in 1672 days


#11 posted 944 days ago

Ebony tends to chip out easily so make sure any cutting tool you use is very sharp. It finishes quite easily and sometimes just a coat of wax on a cleanly planed surface is sufficient. It is so dense it doesn’t absorb oil finishes well. I have also used patina blond shellac which gives more protection.

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2510 days


#12 posted 944 days ago

I have used both lacquer (sprayed) and mineral oil as a finish on Ebony and liked both but they are quite different. As tn said an oil finish is not absorbed well. It is definately not a ‘do and forget’ finish and has to be renewed periodically. But I liked it in the project I used it on. The jewelry box I left unfinished.

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