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Does anybody use Ironwood / Am. hornbeam (Carpinus carolinianus)?

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Forum topic by Pendragon1998 posted 149 days ago 813 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Pendragon1998

41 posts in 174 days


149 days ago

I have worked in my share of wet riverbottoms, and one of my favorite trees is ironwood / musclewood / American Hornbeam (Carpinus carolinianus). I was just feeling curious whether anyone here uses it as lumber in their projects? If so, I would love to see some photos of how it turns out.

-- "I am always doing what I can't do yet in order to learn how to do it." - Van Gogh, September, 1885


11 replies so far

View hydro's profile

hydro

208 posts in 349 days


#1 posted 149 days ago

Not sure about that exact species but I have worked with quite a bit of Eastern Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) here in Minnesota and they look to be closely related. In this area the wood is referred to as “Ironwood” and it is hard and heavy. The trees are rather small with a 10” trunk being good sized, so lumber is smaller pieces. Because of the small size, boards are difficult to dry without pith cracking, and workable pieces tend to be small.

The wood looks very much like birch, with a somewhat finer grain structure. Crotch figure can be quite interesting, with nice flame figure, and I have used it for turning and for making tools due to it’s hardness. It cuts well with power tools but has a tendency to burn if the tools are not kept moving or they are dull. Sands and polished nicely.

If you can get some workable size pieces give it a try!

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View ScrubPlane's profile

ScrubPlane

187 posts in 793 days


#2 posted 149 days ago

I’ve also wanted to try ‘turning’ Ironwood but with no luck in finding a source for it. Does anyone know of an on-line source for it? thanks…

View knotheadswoodshed's profile

knotheadswoodshed

151 posts in 770 days


#3 posted 149 days ago

I have a 10 1/2×5 1/2×1 1/2 block of ironwood that I picked up a few years ago.
Still looking for the right project for it.
it is very heavy and looks alot like afzelia burl

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities" www.knotheadswoodshed.com

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buck_cpa

57 posts in 485 days


#4 posted 149 days ago

do you have any? I’ve been looking for some to turn for some chisel handles.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1385 posts in 959 days


#5 posted 149 days ago

I have both Hop and American Hornbeam trees on my property. I’ve never seen either one over about 8” in diameter. When the sap is running well, the shaggy Hop bark can be stripped off completely in a single piece, leaving a finely striated trunk, pictured. The American’s bark adheres tightly even when totally dry. It makes great walking sticks and canes.

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

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

457 posts in 1236 days


#6 posted 149 days ago

I’ve been wanting some of that for years. A friend of mine has abt. 100 ac in TN and thinks he has seen some there, but we haven’t gotten around to hunting some down. (Friend also has a 24” woodmiser.)

In “the old days”, they used it for critical strong parts, I’ve read. Wagon wheel hubs in particular. I have a toy wagon that my Dad had as a child. It’s probably 100 years old, made just like a farm wagon but the size for a child to ride in. Some day, I’d like to try my hand at making a copy of it – and the wheels look like the most difficult part. Having a bit of hop-hornbeam on hand would be inspiring.

I’ve seen some small pieces on ebay, but nothing of any size.

-Ocelot

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Pendragon1998

41 posts in 174 days


#7 posted 149 days ago

BTW: my apologies, the species is C. caroliniana, not carolinianus.

Here is the awesome trunk structure that give the trees the name ‘musclewood’ (and makes it a cinch to ID).

Below is a relative to American Hornbeam, the Eastern Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana). Both trees are in the birch family, Betulaceae, as you can see from the leaves.

I don’t have any wood from either, but they’re both supposed to be nice for mallets, clubs, handles, and woodenware, according to Native Trees of the Southeast.

Now, I’ve got several of these near my house, unfortunately, not on my land. I’m very tempted to do a little late night sawing to snag me a piece. Who can guess the species? The fruit makes it easy!

-- "I am always doing what I can't do yet in order to learn how to do it." - Van Gogh, September, 1885

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Planeman40

456 posts in 1358 days


#8 posted 149 days ago

European Hornbeam is used for the best modern European wooden planes like Primus. Obviously for its hardness and resistance to wear.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1385 posts in 959 days


#9 posted 148 days ago

Osage orange

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

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13247 posts in 936 days


#10 posted 148 days ago

I have all the Eastern Hop Hornbeam I can ever use. But the stuff here rarely gets more than 5-6 inches in diameter.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13247 posts in 936 days


#11 posted 148 days ago

Hop hornbeam is some of the hardest wood i have ever handled. Great walking sticks. Almost physically impossible to break.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

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