LumberJocks

Making odd shapes out of Lignum Vitae

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by dduncombe posted 03-06-2015 08:50 PM 902 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dduncombe's profile

dduncombe

5 posts in 645 days


03-06-2015 08:50 PM

Hello everyone! This is my first post and it’s a selfish one. This is a one-time project that I could use some good advice for. I don’t have much to offer except two good ears and a wholelottagratitude which is not useful as legal tender. Thanks for whatever time you have!

My Project:

I have some very special wood (lignum vitae) that I am planning to turn into shapes of constant width like these.

The branches that I have ranges from 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter (3 to 5 inches in circumference). I have a friend who will cut them into disks but I have no idea how to get them into the shapes and since there is 0 margin of error I’m terrified in a way one shouldn’t be when working with power tools.

Is there a standard way to approach this project in terms of templates or tools? Is there a professional service that someone trusts that I could hire to do it?

Thank you!

Photos of the branches:


13 replies so far

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7934 posts in 1847 days


#1 posted 03-06-2015 11:32 PM

You have 2 challenges. First your sticks are very small and contain pith. As wood dries it shrinks, cracks will radiate from the pith outward. Besides being unattractive it could lead to your constant widths not being constant or just breaking. Second is a matter of precision (repeatability) and accuracy.

Here is how I would make them. I would use a kiln dried wood for better stability or even thin plywood. Reduce to the thickness you want. Do not cut them into discs. Do the layout first creating your polygon then use a compass to draw the rounded sides. Cut them out being sure to stay just outside the line then sand to final size. Finer lines means better precision. There may be a way to create a jig but unless you are making a bunch, I wouldn’t bother.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3927 posts in 2711 days


#2 posted 03-06-2015 11:49 PM

Lignum Vitae is a very hard and dense wood. Metal working tools are best to use for working this wood. A belt sander would be useful and lots of files.

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

69 posts in 1437 days


#3 posted 03-07-2015 12:27 AM

I disagree that metalworking tools are better. I have worked lignum and it works just fine with sharp tools. Don’t expect to go chopping mortises in it with your bench chisels, but certainly go ahead and cut it with wood working saws, chisels, sandpaper, etc. It is hard, sure, but except for turning on a lathe, where you may use carbide insert bits in a metal working tool, I would not say that metalworking tools are necessary.

For the original question, I would say that you will not have good results using this wood. I would suggest that you purchase some flat lignum stock to use and start from there. Have someone with a laser cutter or CNC cut the shapes as they will be perfect sizes and smooth edges. I am not a big fan of using CNC for everything, but this is a project where it makes sense.

Matt Rogers
www.cleanairwoodworks.com

-- Matt Rogers, http://www.cleanairwoodworks.com and http://www.cleanairyurts.com

View dustyoldman's profile

dustyoldman

22 posts in 713 days


#4 posted 03-07-2015 02:07 AM

Lignum Vitea is hard but workable I have cut out shapes and other projects with my scroll saw just ease up the pressure. I actually like working with it ,ran out of it one time and dyed another kind of wood to do a project . did not like the results . took a little to find some more now I am frugal in using it . quite expensive here .

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4245 posts in 1666 days


#5 posted 03-07-2015 02:17 AM

It’s tough stuff.. I used to work a lot with it when I was living down in the FL Keys back in the 70’s. I actually cut some trunks with a handsaw and it took hours. Would dull bandsaw blades, played havoc on router bits and took forever to sand. I still have one hunk left, about 3” thick and 7” in diameter, and because of how rare and expensive it is now, I’m reluctant to do anything with it:

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

693 posts in 1265 days


#6 posted 03-07-2015 05:12 AM

That’s a nice bisket of lignin you got there Brad,looks perfect just the way it is.I like it! Aj

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3927 posts in 2711 days


#7 posted 03-07-2015 04:07 PM

The reason why I would use metalworking tools is because I have all the metalworking tools in my shop; lathe, mill, etc. I certainly wouldn’t want to use my scary sharp chisels or planes. The edges would quickly need resharpening.

View dduncombe's profile

dduncombe

5 posts in 645 days


#8 posted 03-07-2015 05:43 PM

Thank you so much everyone! I really appreciate all the help and advice!!!!!!

First, I would like to clarify my goal for the project. I would like to use the wood in some way rather than to make the shapes. The wood is very special (it has a bit of a royal history) and I wanted something that would show it off, last a long time and serve some purpose. The shapes were by far my best idea. I’m also hoping to make some kubotans from the narrower pieces.
Kubotans⤋⬇︎☟

I’m open to other ideas for using the pieces.

If I can send the slices to someone who knows what they are doing I would almost prefer to do that to get the most from the pieces.

I should also have asked about treating at the same time. I know I’m being greedy here but can I have some advice on that as well? I want to do as little as possible but preserve the wood bring out it’s natural colors.

Rick M.
Thank you for the information. Does it affect it’s likeliness to crack if the wood has been sitting for more than a year now? Is it likely to crack when I’m working with it? I’m taking them to someone who has worked a lot with Lignum Vitae. He said he has a very good cutter (I don’t remember the name and he doesn’t take to random emails well) so I’m not worried that he’ll make good decisions about how to cut and the thickness.

I wasn’t planning to cut them into disks really, that was bad wording. Slices would have been better I think as I plan to do what you described.

MrRon and Matt Rogers: Thanks for the pros and cons of metalworking tools.

Matt, in terms of CNC work, is there a company you recommend?

Thanks again everyone.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4245 posts in 1666 days


#9 posted 03-07-2015 05:49 PM

That wood has a natural oil and is hard as a rock, which is why it was used back in the day for shaft bearings, bushings and other wear surfaces, particularly in the boating industry. The best finish I’ve found is just to sand smooth and wax it.. nothing else is really needed. The wood will look beautiful and it will last for decades.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View dduncombe's profile

dduncombe

5 posts in 645 days


#10 posted 03-07-2015 06:39 PM


That wood has a natural oil and is hard as a rock, which is why it was used back in the day for shaft bearings, bushings and other wear surfaces, particularly in the boating industry. The best finish I ve found is just to sand smooth and wax it.. nothing else is really needed. The wood will look beautiful and it will last for decades.

Cheers,
Brad

Thanks Brad, that’s what I was hoping. What kind of wax do you like?

It’s awesome that you know about it’s use in bearings. My father never failed to tell me that (Lignum Vitae is the national tree of The Bahamas, where I’m from).

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7934 posts in 1847 days


#11 posted 03-07-2015 07:30 PM


Rick M.
Thank you for the information. Does it affect it s likeliness to crack if the wood has been sitting for more than a year now? Is it likely to crack when I m working with it? I m taking them to someone who has worked a lot with Lignum Vitae. He said he has a very good cutter (I don t remember the name and he doesn t take to random emails well) so I m not worried that he ll make good decisions about how to cut and the thickness.
- dduncombe

I have no experience with LV, but with wood in general you can never be sure until you cut into it, especially tree limbs which can be less stable than trunk wood. I’ve dried things in the round for more than a year only for them to split as soon as I started working them.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View dduncombe's profile

dduncombe

5 posts in 645 days


#12 posted 03-07-2015 07:59 PM


Rick M.
I have no experience with LV, but with wood in general you can never be sure until you cut into it, especially tree limbs which can be less stable than trunk wood. I ve dried things in the round for more than a year only for them to split as soon as I started working them.
- Rick M.

Thanks for the additional detail. I hear you. I would like to avoid surprises.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4245 posts in 1666 days


#13 posted 03-07-2015 08:10 PM

Thanks Brad, that’s what I was hoping. What kind of wax do you like?

Any good furniture wax should work.. My ‘favorite’ is whatever I happen to have on hand at the moment :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com