finishing mesquite wood

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Forum topic by cabbie posted 11-29-2014 10:13 PM 2610 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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64 posts in 1944 days

11-29-2014 10:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing mesquite question

I just got a bunch of ‘desert-dried” mesquite wood at the ultimate “right” price—FREE.
I’d like to ask if anyone has worked with this wood, and if so, what I should be aware of when working it.
Also—what type of finish will it accept?
Thanks in advance!

-- Jim, Altadena, CA

9 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2660 days

#1 posted 11-30-2014 01:26 AM

It is hard, usually has a few cracks, bark inclusions, and other forms of character. It finishes beautifully with oil or film finishes. Probably my favorite wood to work with.
It does tend to tear out when planed due to all the wild grain swirls.

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

View rustfever's profile


751 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 11-30-2014 03:30 AM

Difficult to work with, but makes some of the most outstanding turnings!

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2482 days

#3 posted 11-30-2014 05:43 PM

I’ve already made quite a bit from it, jewelry boxes to living room furniture, the small boxes I finish with tung oil and then wipe on poly, the larger stuff I use the same method only I use full poly un-cut. If you run into dense areas that like to soak up the finish, I use non wax shellac for the bottom coat just after the oil to seal the areas then come back over it with the poly for the top coat.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View ColonelTravis's profile


1756 posts in 1864 days

#4 posted 11-30-2014 07:22 PM

Free! Lucky you. I use hand tools mostly and when planing this stuff it is extremely tricky. Know this going in and be patient because, like gfadvm said, it’s easy to tear-out. Low angle planes work very well, but I also use regular ones and have to plane from just about every side imaginable. If it doesn’t plane well one way, turn the board and try another. If that doesn’t work, try another. Then another. You might be turning the board or yourself around a lot. Also, learn how to use scrapers. There’s no way I could finish a mesquite board without a scraper. I’ve got a card and a No. 80.

Making several things with it now. It can be difficult but the results are stunning. I’ve used nothing but Arm-R-Seal.

View cabbie's profile


64 posts in 1944 days

#5 posted 11-30-2014 08:08 PM

Thanks all! Any advise re: adhesives? Also, it sounds like running it thru a planer is going to be problematic. Any ideas that would help there?

-- Jim, Altadena, CA

View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2732 days

#6 posted 11-30-2014 10:12 PM

Make sure you have a quality air cleaner, DC, and/or mask. Mesquite creates an abundance of dust while planning, cutting, or turning. It draws up silica with water, so be ready to sharpen any tool used. Beautiful wood. Will take any kind of finish. My icon is a mesquite root burl, with a wax finish.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2660 days

#7 posted 11-30-2014 10:14 PM

A drum sander is your friend when dealing with gnarly grained woods like mesquite. A lot slower than a planer but no tearout.

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

View cabbie's profile


64 posts in 1944 days

#8 posted 12-01-2014 04:18 AM

Thanks guys—as soon as my surgery is healed I can put these ideas to work!

-- Jim, Altadena, CA

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3011 days

#9 posted 12-01-2014 05:55 AM

I’m with jim, a good wax finish, oils work well too.

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