Madrone - your thoughts?

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Forum topic by recconore posted 11-11-2013 05:05 PM 1227 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 1080 days

11-11-2013 05:05 PM

Hi out there,

I’m lucky enough live in a region with tons of really nice Madrone trees. From what I’ve read, the wood is excellent for working, the few boards I’ve seen are very pretty, and the trees grow super fast.

Madrone trees aren’t known for growing straight, however, and it seems that turning a nice log into a stack of straight boards can be a bit of a challenge. Very few of the trees that are cut around here seem to end up as carpentry projects.

So, anyway, has anyone worked with Madrone boards? Ever tried sawing and drying a log? I’m very interested in heard about any experience that people have had.. Thanks!

6 replies so far

View shipwright's profile


7085 posts in 2218 days

#1 posted 11-12-2013 01:50 AM

I live in B.C. We call it arbutus here (actually its genus name) but I use it quite a bit and find it beautiful to work with.
I have milled some of my own and dried it in my solar kiln and have also used air dried material milled by a friend.
Here are a couple of projects that feature it.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

317 posts in 2502 days

#2 posted 11-12-2013 04:34 AM

I picked up a few board feet a few years ago. Most pieces were fairly short and many are slightly curved. Supposedly, it moves a lot when drying.

It has working characteristics that are similar to hard maple. The grain pattern is a little bland, unless you have a burl. The color has a slight pink tint to it.

-- Steve

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 1824 days

#3 posted 11-12-2013 06:11 AM

When I lived in Humboldt Co., Madrone was used as firewood. Dried – it was hard as any wood to split. Planed well and reminded me of Pear- pinkish with no strong grain patterns. Talking to old timers, they would tell me that the Spanish would use the wood to make stirrups , tool handles and other objects that needed a very hard wood. Native Americans fire hardened the tips of their Madrone spears.Never worked a lot of it but I can tell you you had to be careful if it was used as firewood. It burned hotter than wood should be allowed to. The crotch sections had amazing patterns. Had chunks of it around to look at- didn’t have the heart to burn such beautiful wood…..Saw it fresh and sticker. make sure there’s a lot of weight in the pile- it’ll twist if you sneeze around it. Dried it’s nice and stable.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

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robert triplett

1566 posts in 2525 days

#4 posted 11-12-2013 03:06 PM

I have used quite a lot of it for turning and other projects. It works well in cutting boards also. It can be hard to find nice pieces, but I have some that is 24” wide by 40” long that will become small tables. I got mine from a spoon carver near Sutherlin. The grain is nice in these boards, but I really like Madrone Burl for box tops.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2378 days

#5 posted 11-13-2013 04:31 PM

Madrone is nice, but difficult to successfully harvest and dry. I think that is why a person doesn’t see it so often, it’s hard to dry and keep. A lot of people use it for small pieces and such as the big pieces don’t seem to want to hold their shape. Bugs like it. Beautiful wood, it does grow all over around Eugene and the surrounding areas. Give it a go, what the heck, best of luck!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View recconore's profile


13 posts in 1080 days

#6 posted 11-14-2013 01:53 AM

Cool, thanks guys. It certainly does make for a hot fire.

I have seen some really nice madrone flooring, so that is one thought. Sounds like its not terribly exciting for the woodworker, though I think the heartwood tends to have a deeper coloring.

For me, a big part of the appeal is the fact that so little lumber is actually made. My method is usually to figure out what everybody else is doing, and not do that.

Bugs huh. That part I don’t like..

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