Using sycamore wood

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Forum topic by sawdustrich posted 01-15-2014 09:13 PM 1482 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 3825 days

01-15-2014 09:13 PM

My friend gave me a pile of milled wood that he did not know what kind it was.
After planing one side I took it to my local wood store and was told it was sycamore.
Has anybody used sycamore?
If so, what can I expect in movement, staining and finishing (Poly. so-on)

-- Rich, Columbus, Ohio

4 replies so far

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3121 days

#1 posted 01-15-2014 09:37 PM

I am no expert on working Sycamore, but the wood is stable enough for use as a secondary wood in drawers and such, I have heard because the wood does not move much, but the overabundance of Parenchyma cells (at quarter sawn… it looks like a lacewood) makes it hard to carve because the grain chips so easily.. planing it is a PITA. I have gathered that the cell grain and figure makes it unpopular as a primary wood. All I got on its wood.. I know a lot more about the tree itself.

-- " '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."

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397 posts in 1894 days

#2 posted 01-15-2014 10:11 PM

sawdustrich, I have used quite a bit of sycamore. I wouldn’t try to stain it, due to blotching. Instead, use tung oil and then put shellac on top. You might try some colored oil on a scrap and see how that works.

I have used sycamore for keepsake boxes. You can get a unique look by cutting your sides with both sap- and heartwood. You might also try resawing a special piece and bookmatching the pieces.

Attached photo is a slice of quartersawn sycamore with both sapwood and heartwood. Imagine a box with this for sides and then a bookmatched lid.

Sycamore has been called, “American lacewood.”

-- --Dale Page

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2686 days

#3 posted 01-16-2014 02:41 AM

I have made a lot of boxes of sycamore (check my projects) and when quarter sawn it is one of my favorites. Shellac will raise the grain on the first coat but a quick sand with 320 grit will make it NICE.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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1741 posts in 2472 days

#4 posted 01-16-2014 03:14 AM

Beautiful wood. It has spiral grain. If flatsawn, it wants to twist and warp. Quartersawing bring out the beautiful figure. Difficult to work with unless quartersawn because of the spiral grain.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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