Iron Wood questions

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Forum topic by CalgaryGeoff posted 03-31-2012 11:28 PM 7279 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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937 posts in 2657 days

03-31-2012 11:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: ironwood iron wood wood

I have a opportunity to obtain some rough sawn 8/4×12 x 144 Iron Wood about 24 bf times two pieces. So about 50 bf for $120 bucks. Is that a reasonable price and is Iron Wood workable? What kind of projects would it typically be used for?

Thanks for any help.


-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

13 replies so far

View Marlow's profile


178 posts in 2847 days

#1 posted 03-31-2012 11:53 PM

May also be referred to as Ipe: popular for decking. Tough on cutting tools. heavy, dense, impervious to the elements (hence its use as decking material).

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Gene Howe

10985 posts in 3604 days

#2 posted 04-01-2012 12:17 AM

The “Iron wood” we, here in the southwest USA, are most familiar with comes from the Olneya tesota tree found only in the Sonoran deserts of north western Mexico and Arizona. It’s a very slow growing tree and the wood is dense, heavy and extremely hard. I would compare it’s qualities to Ebony.
The Seri Indians of the region carve it and scrape it smooth with glass shards. Because of their thickness, beer bottle shards are preferred.
Olneya tesota trees that would yield 8/4 are becoming very rare. In fact, the species is becoming scarce, altogether. It is illegal to export raw Olneya tesota lumber from Mexico. The US honors that and will confiscate it at the border. Most of the trees found in the Arizona portions of the Sonoran desert are on federal land and also illegal to harvest.
Iron wood is a pretty non-specific nomenclature. There are many species so termed.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View peterrum's profile


153 posts in 2854 days

#3 posted 04-01-2012 01:18 AM

I managed to get a piece that Gene is describingand i am fairly certain that I will have to use diamond blades to cut it. Even carbide won’t cut it I am told. I haven’t tried either method yet, the piece is still sitting in my shop.

-- Carpe Diem

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3254 days

#4 posted 04-01-2012 03:39 AM

Heard of it; never seen one; I don’t imagine carving one anytime soon, from the description!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View BobM001's profile


388 posts in 2506 days

#5 posted 04-01-2012 04:13 AM

It grows in the Northeast and is known as Hornbeam. Great wood to make mallets.

-- OK, who's the wise guy that shrunk the plywood?

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 2493 days

#6 posted 04-01-2012 04:48 AM

I’ve seen lots of figurines and little iron wood statues from Mexico. I love the way they carve it. It feels more like a rock, than wood. The price sounds good, especially for large pieces. I’m not sure what you’d make with it, though. That stuff is hard. Maybe you can take the savings on the wood, rockler probably wants $12 a foot, and buy a couple of hundred dollars worth of diamond tooling.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2869 days

#7 posted 04-01-2012 02:28 PM

I live in the northeast and own wooded country property that has ironwood on it. In ages gone by it was used for oxen yokes. Years ago I latched on to one with my chainsaw on my property. The chainsaw was brand new and I had only felled one other with it previously and it made my saw run like it was DULL!!!! Once on the ground it was so heavy it was near impossable to roll over. And it doesn’t float!!! I threw the wedge piece into my creek and it sank to the bottom! Loggers of years gone by used to chain them to 2 other logs to float them down stream to the mill sites. Hard, HARD, HARD!!!! Have fun with it and let’s see what you make and hear your comments.

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View EPJartisan's profile


1122 posts in 3301 days

#8 posted 04-01-2012 11:00 PM

Iron wood huh? IF you haven’t guessed by now saying Iron wood is just like saying hardwood or soft wood and the exact species depends on where you are. Pictures please !!! :)

-- " '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 a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3753 days

#9 posted 04-01-2012 11:35 PM

Ipe is from south America If this is from the US it’s probably this wood.,%20desert.htm

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View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 2425 days

#10 posted 04-01-2012 11:51 PM

Ipe, very hard wood, very heavy wood:). I built a dock with it. It is good for any project outside. The only thing with Ipe is that if it splinters or cracks for any reason, the edge is as sharp as a razor blade. Special note, I used plastic biscuits as a hidden fastening system, the dust is super fine when you cut into it. Masks are a must when working with it.

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View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3823 days

#11 posted 04-02-2012 12:03 AM

The price is very attractive. I have not worked with any of the
woods commonly called iron wood. My understanding is they
tend to sink in water, which may contribute to the common

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3753 days

#12 posted 04-02-2012 12:50 AM

I still doubt that the wood your being offered is Ipe since it’s not grown in the states , Geof I wondered if you looked at the above link ,does the Iron wood look like any of the photos there. Many times people call woods Iron wood when their not. There are a number of very hard dense woods people call Iron wood that could even be Texas ebony that would make the price you have been offered this wood for an even better .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


937 posts in 2657 days

#13 posted 04-07-2012 07:11 AM

Hi there everyone. Thanks for all replies. I did check the link out and the wood presented looked great. I’m not able to figure out how to post pictures here with an iPad 3 so it looked like rough cut wood weathered as it was fence board on something with a row of three nail holes every three feet. I believe it to be iron wood from usa. It looked like a lot planing and jointing was needed to get to see the grain. I think the price was more than fair at $1.20/BF delivery included.

I choose not to buy the wood for a few reasons. One, very very hard wood is tough on blades. Not able to see grain pattern worth risking tools on. Also nail holes plus checking.

Thanks to everyone for all the excellent replies.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

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