Heat Tolerant Wood?

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Forum topic by ChuckV posted 01-09-2014 07:31 PM 4673 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3118 posts in 3524 days

01-09-2014 07:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Our wood stove has a handle that is used to control the damper. The handle is made of wood and is starting to break apart. Because of the handle’s location near the back of the stove, it is exposed to a lot of heat. I removed it and was amazed at how light it is. It must have almost no moisture left in it.

I would like to turn a new handle to replace this one. I am looking for suggestions of wood species that are best to use in such a hot and dry location.

The current handle is painted black to match the finish on the stove. I am also wondering if and how I should finish the new handle.

Thanks for any ideas.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

27 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2348 days

#1 posted 01-09-2014 07:51 PM

I can’t really answer your question about heat resistant wood species. I think what your old handle is going through is the early stages of a process called carbonization. It will lower the ignition point of the wood and possibly be a fire hazard. I would suggest something other than wood if possible for the handle or barring that, plan on replacing it every couple of years.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JayG46's profile


139 posts in 1855 days

#2 posted 01-09-2014 08:11 PM

Ipe is an incredibly fire-resistant wood but it’s also prone to surface checking, at least when exposed to the sun. I think that whatever type of wood you choose is going to loose moisture when the stove is running and gain when it cools down, contracting and expanding, leading to checking and cracking.

Not sure how big the handle is but you can buy acrylic blanks from places like Rockler and Penn State Industries that would not be subject to the change in moisture content that wood is.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 2995 days

#3 posted 01-09-2014 08:12 PM

Ipe has a higher fire rating than concrete/cement, so you might give that a shot. Beware, Ipe eats steel tools for breakfast, so use your sharpest carbide blades.


View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3911 days

#4 posted 01-09-2014 08:31 PM

That’s a good question.
Maybe a light wood was intentional as it’s probably a better insulator??
Painting it black might be a bad idea since it will absorb more radiant heat.
I have what looks like a maple handle on my stove door which is just fiinished wth a medium dark stain but it’s purposely made so it remains out of direct exposure to the radiant heat from the hottest part of the stove and it’s never hot to the touch. The steel handle, on the other hand is always warm to hot to the touch.

The flash point of most woods is around 550F (300C), so I wouldn’t worry too much about it igniting.
I guess this is what you should be looking for though – the wood with the highest flashpoint – but I think in the end, it might not be too big of a concern, if it hasn’t gone up in flames already!

If you were trying to start a fire with a bow drill, then you would want a low flashpoint. The hearth boards are typically softer woods like willow, cedar, sycamore so maybe softwoods are not the best.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2484 days

#5 posted 01-09-2014 08:59 PM

We use to have an old Oregon wood Cookstove when I was young.

It had old wooden handles that eventually just gave way and kind of crumbled off the steel shafts.

I made new handles by drilling a hole larger by quite a bit than the steel shaft and inserted a hollow metal tube.
The tube rode on the steel shaft loosely so the wood was never in contact except at one point. I peened the ends so the tube couldn’t slide off.
Those handles, made of lodgepole pine are probably still in that cabin in Idaho 40 years later.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View ChuckV's profile


3118 posts in 3524 days

#6 posted 01-09-2014 09:08 PM

Thanks for all the ideas.

The handle is only about 3” long and is loosely held in place by a bolt through the center. By that I mean that the bolt bottoms out before there is any pressure on the wooden handle. Also, the head of the bolt is recessed so that you don’t touch the hot metal.

Steve – You might be correct that they use a low-density wood to act as an insulator. Even when the stove is very hot, the handle is no where near being too hot to touch.

Maybe I’ll hang some pieces of scrap of various species near the handle for a few hours and then see how they feel.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View punk's profile


181 posts in 2413 days

#7 posted 01-09-2014 10:35 PM

maple works real good it is what I made mine out of been on there ab out four years good day to youall

-- Punk in PA

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3574 days

#8 posted 01-10-2014 12:14 AM

Another vote for Ipe it’s fire rated,just like Greg said.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2801 days

#9 posted 01-10-2014 03:01 AM

I just keep learning some good stuff from all ya’ll. I never knew there was such a thing as heat tolerant wood… WowZa.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2090 days

#10 posted 01-10-2014 03:35 AM

As others have said, Ipe is pretty heat tolerant. Heck, it’s just about everything tolerant. I swear I remembered reading somewhere about a couple of other species that were also heat tolerant.

View LiveEdge's profile


584 posts in 1617 days

#11 posted 01-10-2014 04:25 AM

An alternative to Ipe would be Cumaru. Some fire resistant characteristics.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3911 days

#12 posted 01-10-2014 04:44 AM

Native larch is also quite fire resistant. I don’t think we should be cutting down tropical hardwoods in the Amazon rainforest just to get a 3” handle for a wood stove in North America!

Personally, I think a corn cob would do the job.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 1657 days

#13 posted 01-10-2014 05:20 AM

Ipe only grows on rivers in remote locations of perfect rainforests that host a diverse ecosystem.

Why not use oven mitts because really, who would put a hardwood handle on a wood burning stove ? What and how old is the stove ? who still makes a wood burning appliance with a wooden handle ?

seriously ?

at – 20 below, for 3 months a year and somewhat dependant on burning carbon options who puts a wooden handle on wood-stove and what a perfect waste of resources when you know that failure is the only option,….. new stoves usually have a metal coil on the handle for a 2 fold reason

a: it isn’t combustable
b: its doesnt act as an insulator, rather a heated handle that dissipates heat

View ChuckV's profile


3118 posts in 3524 days

#14 posted 01-10-2014 11:47 AM

I like the corn cob idea! We grew lots of Hopi Blue Dent corn that is drying in out barn. If I leave the kernels on, will we get blue popcorn?

This is a very common stove around here – a 2006 Vermont Castings.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3911 days

#15 posted 01-10-2014 05:09 PM

The corn cob would be a good test. Corn pops around 350F (180C)
Sounds like a good experiment to conduct with your boys!

I have a 2013 Enviro fireplace insert – wood on the handles – so, yes they still do this.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

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