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Ipe lumber. How best to clean it up - man this stuff is hard.

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Forum topic by Randy_ATX posted 839 days ago 4585 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Randy_ATX

664 posts in 1037 days


839 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: ipe

My mom and step-dad have a lot of Ipe decking they want to re-purpose from a pool deck they removed. It is about 4” wide by 5/8” thick, random longer lengths. It is weathered but still solid and was only installed about 5 years ago. I took a small piece about 3 feet long and thought this is nothing my 6” grizzly jointer can’t take care of. I recently just had a guy sharpen the carbide tipped knives. I fired it up, ran a couple of feet of the board into it, only taking about 1/32 off. Looked great, nice clean brown wood showing through. Second pass went well at first but hit a small knot which is probably present in all of the boards to some extent. Then I noticed a ridge in the wood. Shut down, checked the knives and sure enough there was a small chip in the tip of the carbide.

So I am asking, have others had any luck in cleaning up the surface of Ipe? Sanding all of this is out of the question. Would HSS work better and last longer than carbide tipped knives in this scenario?

I wasn’t that familiar with Ipe, but here is a little bit about it including the Janka hardness rating (3680).
http://www.ipefurniture.com/whatisipe.asp

Thanks for any advice.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH


18 replies so far

View DustyRich's profile

DustyRich

12 posts in 914 days


#1 posted 839 days ago

I’ve built a couple of Ipe decks and splined some Ipe together with polyurethane glue for a customer who wanted a wood floor on a covered back porch. She didn’t want to have to deal with painting the floor all the time like the t&g pine floor that was there and rotted out anyway. Ipe has a natural grit in the wood itself and is very hard on cutting tools. We burned thru a few splining bits and one 2 hp router ! That was over 9 years ago and she loves it. It grayed out a little unevenly because some areas of the porch get more rain/sun than others. It is also very dense and sometimes does not take finishes evenly because its just too hard to soak in. I have cleaned up pieces and applied Cabot’s Austrailian Timber Stain with good results. What ever type blades you decide to use, just know you are going to use a couple of sets, maybe more depending on how much Ipe you have to play with.

View ellen35's profile

ellen35

2556 posts in 2028 days


#2 posted 839 days ago

Someone gave me some ipe… rather than dull all my machine blades, I took it to the dump and put it in the “you can have it” section.
I think it is only good for outdoor decks and such.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Randy_ATX's profile

Randy_ATX

664 posts in 1037 days


#3 posted 839 days ago

Thanks Rich and Ellen. I should be clear – it is to be reused for another outdoor area. I know they spent a fair amount of money on it. It does have the grayness you speak of – one of the reasons it would be nice to clean up the surface and try to seal it a bit better than the first time.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1487 posts in 1948 days


#4 posted 839 days ago

Randy, I remember reading someplace about ipe that once it turns gray pressure washing it removes the gray and gets it back to it’s original color. Worth a shot in my book. I’d probably try with at least a 3000psi one though, not one of those little ones.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

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Randy_ATX

664 posts in 1037 days


#5 posted 839 days ago

Thanks Curt. I may need to use that as plan B. Took a look at your site, I am envious of your workshop, tools and clamps. What do you think about the HSS vs Carbide?

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile

Lumber2Sawdust

136 posts in 1461 days


#6 posted 839 days ago

I built a large deck with ipe last year. You are right, it is heavy and hard.

Don’t waste your time with HSS. Carbide is the only way to go. Still, it won’t last that long.

If you are just going to reinstall it for outdoor use, your best bet is to use the pressure washer on it. I haven’t done that to mine yet, but after working with it I can’t imagine any other way. I had to cut out holes for downspouts on my deck. I used a sawsall with blades for cutting steel. The worked pretty well, but I couldn’t cut more than about 3 holes before that blade would be shot.

I did us a router with carbide bits for a few small things and it routed well, too if that helps you.

I know I’ve read that some folks build furniture, etc with ipe here on LJ. Maybe Rich Greer? I wondered how they do it while I was working on my deck. Maybe they will chime in and give more info for you.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1380 posts in 957 days


#7 posted 839 days ago

I made my 36×84 desk top out of 5/4×6 ipe decking finished with Cabot Australian Timber Oil that I left outside for a couple weeks to cure. The only cutting I had to do was to jig saw a curve on the ends, and it took a couple blades. Pressure washing sounds like the way to go.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

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BlankMan

1487 posts in 1948 days


#8 posted 839 days ago

Thanks Randy. You’d get more mileage out of carbide but once it dulls or nicks it’s more costly. I’ve heard that ipe was hard on knives but never worked with it myself. Almost used it for my raised gardens, was that close.

I’m thinking a Shelix type cutterhead would maybe be the way to go, from what I heard I don’t know that I’d try with HSS. Not suggesting you run out and buy helical cutterheads by no means. But at least with one indexing the inserts as they dull/nick might get you farther but still take a toll on longevity and be replacing them a lot sooner.

Rock and a hard place. HSS I suspect you’d go through a lot of them as you already discovered. Straight carbide probably last longer but more costly and how much longer? Wouldn’t surprise me at all if the cost of the knives needed to do this would exceed the cost of a Shelix cutterhead.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View oluf's profile

oluf

256 posts in 1634 days


#9 posted 838 days ago

Try pressure washing. If that dos’nt work use a nine inch body grinder with 80 grit disks to clean the surface you want to be the show side. Ware a good mask if you grind it.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View doughan's profile

doughan

96 posts in 1187 days


#10 posted 838 days ago

Not sure if this was the cause of your chipped carbide but while working on some of the hardest honduran mahogany i have ever run across there was a particularly hard spot that ruined a carbide blade.When i looked at it carefully it was an actually rock that had been surrounded by the growing tree.Birds eat rocks and they come out sometimes too…if they get lodged in a spot on the tree that expands around them you have a blade/carbide chipping area in an already hard wood.

View Tomj's profile

Tomj

204 posts in 977 days


#11 posted 838 days ago

Ipe really is some hard stuff, not as bad as Purple Heart but really hard. Some people are allergic to it the dust that is. It’s great for bows. Trying to get seal on it or glue it is hard too due to it being so oily. I have never tried planning it just 60 grit on a belt sander. It dulls any blade it touches. Good luck.

View Randy_ATX's profile

Randy_ATX

664 posts in 1037 days


#12 posted 838 days ago

Thanks everyone for your input – I appreciate it. Since there is probably 2000bf I will need to come up with an efficient system.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

10365 posts in 1602 days


#13 posted 838 days ago

I think LJ A1Jim does a lot of work with ipe maybe you can ask him via a pm.

-- "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 Bill White's profile

Bill White

3340 posts in 2556 days


#14 posted 838 days ago

I have found (as of today) that some planer blades are ground with a 40+ degree edge. That’s too much angle. I grind to about 30 degrees. I see less chip with that grind.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

398 posts in 1790 days


#15 posted 838 days ago

Most commercial deck cleaners have Clorox bleach in them. You could try a small area with bleach to see if the grey color comes off. Then pressure wash.

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