Archive for the Category ◊ Wood ◊

Author:
• Sunday, June 09th, 2013

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3. Important factors that affect the readings

This is the third of four keys to making effective use of a moisture meter. Even properly taken readings are subject to factors inherent in the design of the meter.

Pin meters are affected by temperature. They will overestimate the moisture content (MC) in a hot environment (wood temperature), and underestimate it in the cold. This will probably only be significant in a cold lumberyard where the meter will read perhaps 1-3 points less than the actual MC. Consult the table that comes with the meter.

The species of wood also affects pin meters but, in the MC ranges we are typically measuring in the wood shop, there is little difference among most species, in the range of one or two points.

Measuring boards of one species in a consistent environment will cancel any significance of these two factors.

Surprisingly, wood density is an unimportant factor. Measuring with the grain, versus across it, is a slight, but generally insignificant factor. Of course, wet spots on the wood (such as melted snow) will greatly distort the readings.

In summary, for pin meters, there are not too many factors to be greatly concerned about. The main issue is to be aware of the depth into the thickness of the board at which the meter is measuring, and be aware of the possibility of a moisture gradient, especially in thick stock.

Remember too, the meter measures the wettest layer between the probes. This is usually the deepest point of penetration by the probes if the wood is still in the initial drying process, though not if it is rapidly gaining moisture.

And, of course, they make holes in your wood!

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Pinless meters are significantly affected by wood species, density, and, as addressed in the previous post, surface quality.

The “species” is really just a proxy for density, and this can be confusing. The tables or programmable functions that accompany the meter are necessarily based on average density values for a given species. However, because each tree is unique, the densities of different samples of a species can vary greatly.

The manufacturer supplies a formula to calculate your own correction factor, but it requires an accurate measurement of the specific gravity (density) of the sample of wood in question, which is usually rather impractical, especially when you do not already know how much of the measured weight is water.

Furthermore, when assessing newly acquired wood, referencing boards of same species on the racks in your shop, fully equilibrated, is not necessarily helpful since they may be quite different in density.

I recently bought some white ash which measured 13-15% MC with the Wagner pinless meter using the correction table. This seemed oddly high for wood that was kiln dried and stored indoors. I brought the wood to my shop, stickered it, and after a couple of weeks, the apparent MC decreased very little. After over two months, it was reading only 12%. Other ash that had been in my shop for a long time was reading about 9%, about what I would expect in the ambient humidity.

So, what’s going on? As I suspected, the recently acquired ash is just denser than the average value for ash used for the Wagner tables. How do I know? Well, two months ought to be plenty of time for the wood to equilibrate and it did not change much over that time. Furthermore, the pin meter, which is unaffected by wood density, verified that this wood was now about the same MC as the other wood in my shop, and there was no gradient through the thickness of a fresh crosscut.

Thus, we have two easy ways of dealing with the density issue affecting pinless meters: time and a pin meter.

Next: We’ll distill all of these technicalities into practical options for wood management.

Category: Wood  | Tags:  | 4 Comments
Author:
• Thursday, May 30th, 2013

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2. Taking the readings

Whether a moisture meter or your blood pressure, if you don’t take the readings properly, they won’t mean much. So let’s take a look.

Pin meters:

The pins must be inserted and held in without backing off, which will create a small air gap, or cause the spring-loaded activation button to release. This can take considerable force, especially if using longer pins. Though longer pins are available, even big hammer-in probes for some meters, I almost always use the default pins on my miniLigno that penetrate about 1/8″.

The pins at the left in the photo penetrate about 1/4″, and even those are difficult to push into dense woods, and I find they tend to break.

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One of the advantages of a pin meter is its ability to check precisely for a moisture gradient through the thickness of a board that has not reached uniform equilibrium moisture content. In the photo at the top, my pinless meter, which has a measuring depth of 1/2″, could evaluate just about the full thickness of the 1 1/8″ Claro walnut board. Remember however, those would be readings of the average moisture content in the measured volume of wood. By crosscutting the wood, then promptly comparing pin readings taken in the end grain near the surface and near the center of the board, a moisture gradient can be detected. The same can be done, sometimes with dramatic results, in a stick like the 16/4 Doug fir in the photo.

I have found little or no difference in pin readings taken along versus across the grain. Furthermore, there is usually little or no difference in the readings for most species whether the meter is set on “wood group” 2 or 3 on the miniLigno meter.

Pinless meters:

Readings are best taken on a smooth, flat wood surface with the length of the sensor aligned along the grain. In the photos of the cherry board, below, my Wagner L609 meter is reading 9% with the sensor along the grain of smooth wood, but 7% on the immediately adjacent rough surface. It read 11% with the sensor placed across the grain of the smooth, flat wood. These relationships are typical. Note also that if the wood surface is not flat in any case, the readings are likely to be relatively underestimated.

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At the lumberyard, you probably won’t have the luxury of reading off a smooth surface, but at least you can make comparisons between similarly rough boards.

Pinless meter readings must be corrected for the density of the species. Some meters allow this to be programmed in before taking a set of readings, but with my meter I must hassle with having to add or subtract an amount based on tables in a little booklet that comes with the meter.

By the way, do not measure thin wood in the manner as shown below, unless you want to average it with the moisture content of your workbench!

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Next: In part 3 of the series, we’ll look at important factors that affect the readings, especially for pinless meters.

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Author:
• Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

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The relationship between wood and water is of great concern to woodworkers. Specifically, we want to know how much water is in the wood, and what will happen to the wood when that amount changes, as we know it always will. A moisture meter tells us the percent moisture content of wood relative to its completely dry weight.

So, we all need a moisture meter, right? Well, on the one hand, great furniture was made for hundreds of years without moisture meters. On the other hand, a meter is a modern convenience that facilitates reliable management and use of valuable wood. I use mine regularly in the shop and when I buy wood at the lumberyard.

However, to be of value, a moisture meter must be used intelligently. That is the topic here, geared for the small shop woodworker. Reviews of specific brands and models can be found in the magazines, whose publishers have the wherewithal to do such testing.

There are four keys to making effective use of a moisture meter:

1. Understand how the meters work.

2. Take the readings properly.

3. Understand the main factors that affect the readings.

4. Interpret the information and use it. You are craftsman, not a data collector.

 1. How they work

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“Pin” meters involve sticking two pins, from 3/16″ to 2″, into the wood. The meter works by conducting a small electric current through the wood from one pin to the other. The water in the wood conducts electricity well but the wood resists electrical flow. The meter measures the resistance, and from this, figures out how much moisture is in the wood.

It is important to realize that the meter measures the path of least electrical resistance between the pins. This means the wettest wood layer that is anywhere between the two pins. (The exception to this is the use of insulated pins that have metal exposed only at their tips.)

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“Pinless” meters involve simply placing the base of the meter on the wood (no punctures). The meter produces an electromagnetic field in a three-dimensional volume of wood, defined by the functional base area of the meter and the depth to which the meter is designed to operate. The field is altered by the moisture content and density of the wood, and the meter uses that alteration to figure out how much moisture is in the wood.

It is important to realize that the meter is reading an approximately average moisture content throughout that volume of wood.

Later we’ll look at how the operating characteristics of the two types of meters affect the interpretation and use of their readings.

– – – – – – – –

Before moving on in the upcoming posts about the next three points listed above, a couple of no-tech maneuvers deserve mention.

First, when at the lumberyard, you can estimate the moisture content simply by holding your hand on the wood surface. Use this as a relative measure for boards of the same species with similar surface quality (rough or planed) in the same storage environment. The wetter wood will feel slightly cooler and damper. It is a subtle sensation, but you can use your pinless moisture meter (or borrow one) to calibrate your senses. It can be done, and it’s quick and cheap.

I’ve heard of using your lips on the wood instead of your hand to increase the sensitivity. Now, as much as I love wood . . . nah, I don’t think so.

Second, if you buy wood and want to let it reach its equilibrium moisture content for the humidity level of your shop, you can probably do well enough by simply being patient. Feel the wood right after you buy it, compare it to boards of the same species that have resided in your shop for a long time, and wait it out for a few weeks, depending on the thickness of the stock. You can also resaw a small chunk and feel the inside surfaces, and watch its movement later.

If you wait long enough, the wood is going to be OK. But how long? Well, that is why it pays to have a moisture meter – efficiency, ease, and reliability.

Next: part 2.

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Author:
• Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Projects featuring live edge wood can be fun and liberating as the gifts of nature guide the woodworker’s design. Though preferences vary in managing live edge boards, I like to remove all of the bark down to the sapwood surface, retaining and exposing the wonderful natural undulations of the wood.

Live, or “natural,” edge boards may have been dried with all of the bark on, or after most of it was removed. During the growing season, the cambium layer is fragile, making the bark easier to shear off. Either way, my goal is to remove all remaining bark without damaging the natural contours of the wood.

The walnut board shown here was dried with all of its bark so I began by removing the bulk of it with a bowsaw. A drawknife may also work well. This is not a job for a bandsaw or jig saw because you want the maneuverability and feel of a hand tool. In the soft inner bark, the saw almost feels like it is going through Styrofoam; the harder resistance of wood is a sign of going too far. To save work later, I get as close as I safely can to the wood, intermittently checking both sides of the board. It is easier to work with the board held vertically, if possible.

The next step is to use abrasives. Dico Nyalox brushes used in an electric hand drill work ideally. They are aggressive enough to remove remaining bark but not enough to reshape the wood. In most cases, an 80-grit (grey) flap brush is a good start, followed by the orange 120-grit. I brace the drill against my body and wear a dust mask.

Next, I use the less aggressive cup brushes, which, as I ramble the drill along the edge, act almost like a random orbit sander. The 80 and 120-grit cup brushes, followed by a light pass with a blue 240-grit flap brush, finish the job.

 The photo below shows the result I like: cleaned up, but ruggedly natural.

The edges of curly wood require special caution. The coarser flap brushes seem to impact the peaks of the bumpy, wavy edge to gouge tiny horizontal grooves that are difficult to remove. Depending on the species, I’ve found it better to work mostly with the cup brushes for curly wood. The photo below shows the edge of curly big leaf maple in a finished piece.

Notice the rasps and sandpaper in the photo showing the tools. “Natural” is nice, but occasionally I’ll “improve” on nature with a little cosmetic surgery using a coping saw, rasps, sandpaper, and maybe even fillers to alter a shape or defect that I don’t like, and to get the look I want. That’s part of the fun.

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• Friday, July 15th, 2011

Yes, humble poplar. OK, this is not a species that is likely to evoke lust, but it is a good wood to love. It should not be overlooked for a supporting or occasionally major role in high-end work, as well as duty in utilitarian work.

To be clear, the species under discussion is Liriodendron tulipifera,whose common names include yellow poplar, and, with a bit more cachet, tulipwood and tulip poplar. This is distinct from similar woods: aspen and cottonwood (Populus spp.), willow (Salix spp.), and basswood/lime (Tilia spp.).

Friendly, inexpensive poplar is readily available. My local orange-themed home center carries plenty of dry, dressed 3/4″ thick boards, as wide as the 1 x 12’s pictured below, and sometimes thicker stock. At my local hardwood dealer, sound stock up to 16/4 is available because poplar dries easily and with minimal degradation.

Poplar heartwood is usually pale yellowish green after milling but eventually changes to light brown after exposure. Some boards have deep purplish, green, or other color mineral stain streaks in the heartwood. The sapwood is creamy whitish which tends to develop a tinge of tan. I’ve never seen figured poplar but maybe it’s out there somewhere. It is a modest wood that, in my opinion, is best appreciated for what it is. Attempts to stain it to imitate another wood, such as cherry, end up looking lame to my eye. An exception may be when it is dyed black (ebonized) for use as an accent wood.

Below, left to right: aged poplar, fresher heartwood and sapwood.

Poplar, oh, yea, I mean tulipwood, makes a great secondary wood in fine work. It is hard to find quartersawn, but rift grain for drawer parts and panels can be salvaged from wide flatsawn boards, as seen in the photos below. For novice woodworkers – and we’re all beginners to the extent that we explore and learn new skills – poplar is an easygoing wood that can still yield very nice results. It saws, planes, and glues easily. Its fine texture takes paint well.

 

For utility work, such as storage units, and for many shop fixtures and jigs, poplar is usually my first choice. I also use it very often for mock-ups.

Poplar is a fairly stable wood with tangential and radial shrinkage values of 8.2% and 4.6%, respectively, T/R is 1.8, and volumetric shrinkage is 12.7%, making it certainly more stable than sugar maple and the oaks. It is a light wood, having an average density of 0.42, and surface hardness less than walnut and cherry but greater than white pine. It would suffer as a heavy-use table top.

Surprisingly, though, its stiffness (modulus of elasticity) exceeds that of cherry and big-leaf maple, though it is no match for sugar maple or the oaks. In this respect, it is a better choice for bookshelves than pine, which is considerably less stiff. For its density, poplar has good strength in tension perpendicular to the grain, which produces resistance to splitting, about the same as cherry and big-leaf maple, and much better than pine.

For lots of woodworking jobs, poplar deserves consideration. And some love.

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Author:
• Monday, June 13th, 2011

Look at the lovely curly maple above. #%$@! sticker stains – the shadowy bands of discoloration across the width of the board. They are seen at the regular spacing where stickers are placed in a stack of boards prepared for drying.

Whatever their cause, perhaps wet stickers and/or slow drying, they are common only in light species, especially soft maples, in my experience. The stains are not usually visible on the rough-sawn surface, but only after planing, and even then they may go unnoticed until the board is viewed from several feet away. The discoloration can penetrate surprisingly deep. Fortunately, in this board the discoloration is shallow and there is thickness to spare.

As evil as it gets, is honeycomb. I do not have a photo to share because I cannot stand keeping such wood in the shop. These are splits oriented along the rays in the core of the wood that reveal their hideous grin on the end grain after a board is crosscut. Honeycomb is basically an extreme form of case hardening caused by poor drying, usually in thick wood. I once brought a gorgeous 8/4 curly koa billet into the shop only to have my thrill doused to disappointment after crosscuting revealed extensive honeycomb.

Even common end checks can be tricky. Sometimes these can partly close, hiding the compromised wood that extends further than the open check into the length of the board. To be assured of using only sound wood, mark the location of a sizeable end check, then saw 1/4″ slices from the end of the board and observe where they break. When the slices are taken in sound wood, they can be snapped to break randomly, not at the location of the end check.

The two boards of curly red oak, below, are parts of batches that I bought at different times. They are both nice but the colors do not match. I will have to use them in different pieces or at least for different categories of parts in one piece.

In a perfect world, we could obtain all the wood of a species in a project at the same time from a single tree. The boards would be hit-or-miss planed to preserve thickness, reveal most defects, and allow for good color and figure matching. Skim planing and keeping boards organized by flitch are more work for wood dealers and add to cost, so, while available, they are not usual practices.

When new wood comes into the shop, I give it another once-over and then write on each board the date and moisture content as measured with a Wagner pinless meter. The boards get stored so air can circulate all around them. If the wood has particularly high moisture, is very thick, or is otherwise prone to end checking, I coat the ends with a wax emulsion such as Anchorseal 2. I then observe the wood for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the species, thickness, and initial MC, rechecking until the MC levels off.

When planning the parts for a project I think carefully before major crosscuts because those are usually big commitments. For thick stock, such as 8/4, I use a pin meter to check for any moisture gradient across the fresh crosscut.

So, while wood disappointments do come along, wood elations are much more frequent and they last a lot longer!

Category: Wood  | 4 Comments
Author:
• Friday, June 10th, 2011

When I design a piece, thoughts of the wood come early in the process. Sometimes, the inspiration from very special wood creates the energy to initiate a project. The form and the wood work hand-in-hand as nature’s gift of wood animates the design.

Yet nature can be cruel. Over the years, despite my continuous effort to learn more about and experience more wood, I have run into disappointments. Sure, I am careful picking boards at the local yard or consulting on purchases from afar, but sometimes the eye, judgement, or just plain luck fails in the quest for wood. It is wood, after all, and we have to take the good with the bad. Here is some of the bad.

The top photo shows compression failures in an otherwise great slab of figured redwood. These are thin, irregular fatal compromises in the cell structure of the wood across the grain. They lurk invisibly on the rough-sawn surface only to reveal themselves after planing. They may occur when the tree is felled or from severe weather stress. I have also seen them in bubinga and mahogany, both large trees.

Below is a close-up photo of another compression failure in the same board, showing a characteristic wrinkly cross-grain split.

Notice the raised left side of the 5/4 cherry, above. It is easy for twist to go unnoticed in the commotion of the lumber yard. The full width of this board would probably be less than 3/4″ thick after dressing because the twist must be removed from both faces. To retain more thickness, this piece can be ripped into narrower sections – safely on the bandsaw not the table saw.

Similarly, thickness can disappear in surprising amounts when flattening a long bowed board or a wide cupped board. More commonly than any other problem, failure to retain the desired thickness, width, and length while removing distortion has destroyed my plans for wood parts.

A distortion that I stay away from is crook, which is fortunately easy to see – the board looks like a level road with a curve. Crook is a tip-off to the presence of reaction wood which is produced by tree trunks that lean. The pith is typically decentered which makes the widths of the growth rings markedly different on each side of a flatsawn board. These boards can unpredictably shrink along the grain and distort oddly. They are incorrigible miscreants that belong in wood hell, also known as the fireplace. Severely twisted boards should also be rejected because they certainly harbor some weirdness, with which you do not want to deal, that made them twist in the first place.

Sometimes, the wood and the woodworker just don’t get along. With great anticipation, I once started working with some beautiful curly makore. Within hours my nose and throat were scratchy and I felt strangely unsettled. Assuming that I was allergic or otherwise sensitive to this species, I decided to avoid unnecessary risk and get this wood out of the shop.

I’m afraid there’s more disappointments coming up in the next post.

Category: Wood  | 8 Comments
Author:
• Tuesday, January 04th, 2011

This wood has beauty, strength and variety. Its deep color, density, and figure impart a certain gravitas to a piece. In no sense is this wood a lightweight.

Plain (non-figured) bubinga’s brick red color is accented with darker annual ring lines. These are thinner and more subdued on the rift surface and more variable and bold on the flatsawn surface. Figured bubinga, well, wow! My favorite is the swirly “waterfall” figure, a variant of quilt, which is showiest on the flatsawn surface, becoming a slightly more modest ripple on the rift surface. This species can also produce fantastic broad, ropy curly patterns and pommele figures.

Bubinga (Guibourtia spp.) is available in clear, wide, long lumber. I suggest inspecting the boards for compression failures which seem more common in this species, perhaps occurring when these big trees are felled. These appear as jagged cracks running across the grain and are often very difficult to see on the roughsawn surface.

Giant highly-figured slabs, if you can pay for and haul them, can make fabulous table tops. An internet search will reveal some monster chunks of wood. Veneers are available, with the rotary-cut variety being known as kevazinga (variable spelling).

Below is a sampling from the shop. From top to bottom: rough flatsawn, machined-planed 8/4 rift leg stock, machine-planed rift waterfall with a coat of lacquer.

Bubinga works reasonably well, at least the non-figured boards, despite its high density, listed variably in the 0.75+ range (sugar maple is about 0.63). It can be hand planed and sawn well, although more muscle is required than for domestic hardwoods. Likewise, take only small bites when chiseling. Cutting on the table saw requires plenty of horsepower and a good sharp blade to move the stock with enough pace to avoid burning. To prepare leg blanks from 8/4 or thicker stock, I prefer using my bandsaw in conjunction with the jointer and planer instead of my 3HP cabinet saw.

Surprisingly, figured bubinga can often be hand planed reasonably well using a 55-60̊ cutting angle. If that doesn’t work, no worries, because the wood scrapes exceptionally well with card scrapers and scraper planes, even wildly figured stock. It responds well to using a scratch stock to create beading and other profiles. It sands to a high polish. The wood holds edges very well and end grain cuts particularly cleanly.

For finishing bubinga, I like wiping varnish, not too thick, as always. In some cases, preceding with an oil-varnish mix can enhance the look of highly figured pieces, but experiment because sometimes that can result in a muddy look.

I’ve read that bubinga can sometimes be troublesome to glue but I have not had any problems using PVA glues in edge-to-edge and other joinery. Two-part urea formaldehyde glue has worked well for laminations – URAC 185 dries to a dark maroon which blends with bubinga’s color.

Shrinkage is listed by the Forest Products Laboratory as a decent 8.4 tangential, 5.8 radial, 14.2 volumetric with a very good T/R of 1.45. Most of its strength properties, including its freakish shear strength, are about 50% higher than domestic tough guys white oak and hard maple, while its side hardness is about double of those. It is an excellent choice for shop tools and fixtures such as the dovetail markers and lamp mount pictured below.

If there is a downside to bubinga, it is that it can be tiring to work with, sometimes producing a bit of a love-hate feeling on my part. This is a heavy, dense, and unyielding wood. Parts must mate well – there’s no helpful mush factor in fitting joints. After completing a project in bubinga, you might feel a longing for some friendly walnut, but after admiring the finished piece in bubinga, you’ll soon have ideas to use this wood again.

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Author:
• Friday, November 26th, 2010

This wood is so beautiful, varied, and agreeable to work with, that I imagine if I could have only one species of wood to use for everything, it might well be Claro walnut. It is so captivating that there is a real temptation to just join a few pieces corner to corner without any thought to a real design, state that “Woodwork is made by fools like me but only God can make a tree” (apologies to Joyce Kilmer), and leave it at that.

If there are doubts about this wood, it is only in being sure of its proper scientific label. Perhaps oversimplifying, Claro walnut is Juglans hindsii, native to northern California. The well-known Eastern (U.S.) black walnut, a great wood in its own right, is Juglans nigra. As best I understand, “Claro walnut” lumber may come from trees that are J. hindsii or a hindsii x nigra hybrid, or from the hindsii root stock upon which Juglans regia, English walnut, has been grafted. Botanical technicalities aside, it’s just gorgeous wood.

Claro’s strongest appeal to me is in the variety of rich colors that can be found mingled in a single board, most compellingly on a marbled quartered or rift surface. Even more spectacular, curly figure, delicate or ropy, may be superimposed on the marbled color array. Flatsawn boards are very often too gnarly for my taste, but certainly have their own appeal. Crotch figure is also available.

The working properties of Claro are much like black walnut: excellent. It is a medium-hard wood, pleasant to work but with enough surface hardness for any furniture item. Sawing, joinery, and gluing are almost always without problems. Layout lines can be difficult to see but angling a light source can pick up the glistening of a graphite line fairly well. White art pencils blunt quickly but can be helpful for less critically precise layout.

The wood responds well to hand planing which gives an exciting clarity to vertical grain (quartered) and most rift surfaces. It can sometimes be a bit brittle under the plane. If you like swirly boards, scraping works better. For finishing, varnish and oil-varnish mixes have worked well. Shellac is another good option; water base is not, in my opinion.

The stability figures for Claro are very favorable and this is my shop sense as well. According to The Wood Database, Claro shrinkage is 4.3% radial, 6.4% tangential, 10.7% volumetric, and T/R is 1.5. Quartered boards, as expected, are very stable.

Here on the East coast U.S., I purchase Claro from across the continent so it is particularly important to buy from a dealer on whom I can rely. As for big-leaf maple, Northwest Timber in Oregon is my first choice for Claro walnut.

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Author:
• Tuesday, November 09th, 2010

First, the bad news. Pearwood (genus Pyrus) is difficult to dry without distortion and the lumber often contains large splits, knots, and other defects. It is expensive and hard to find, especially in large pieces that are not loaded with defects.

But oh, the good news! Pear has a dreamy fine-grained, silky-looking texture with understated but exciting color. The best I can do in words is to call the color a muted pink/salmon, sometimes a pinkish brown. Almost all commercially available pearwood that I have come across has been steamed during processing to enhance the color and reduce stresses in drying.

The domestic pear that I have bought locally has tended to be fairly uniform in color with little or no curl figure, and a density not much greater than cherry or walnut. The top photo below shows a pair of pink-salmon boards from the same tree. Note the subtle shimmer curl in the front board. The lower photo shows a board from another tree which has interesting purplish red streaks.

All of the wood shown in this post is from my shop. It has been surfaced only by the thickness planer with the exception of the door panel in the photo at the end of the post. The photo color is very close to real and close as I can get. Some pieces are portions of boards purchased over 15 years ago. Please keep in mind that I am writing these posts based on my personal experience with the wood, and, since pear is particularly variable, others woodworkers will surely have different experiences. Pear is one of those woods that, if I see some excellent stock in person, I’ll buy it even if I do not have any immediate plans to use it. I know its time will come.

I have a pile of German pear that is much denser, has deeper color, and more streaks and figure than the boards above. I resawed all of it and it took a long time, at least several weeks as I recall, to settle out of its tendency to distort. Three examples from that lot, pictured below, show a range of color, streaks, and curl. Beautiful! Once at peace, all the pear that I have used has been well-behaved and quite stable. I have not been able to find shrinkage data.

Pear is not problematic to saw or glue. Its beautiful fine texture demands a hand-planed finish. The blade must be at peak sharpness with a carefully cambered edge because any blade defect will show up prominently on the wood surface. I needed a bevel-up smoother with a high attack angle for the German pear. Likewise, in cutting joints, pear reveals any and all boo-boos.

Finishing pear is a study in “less-is-more.” Oil or varnish, in my opinion, kills the wood giving it a greasy look. No finish or just some wax would work. To get more protection, I prefer a water-base poly-acrylic which imparts as little change in color as possible and preserves the lively look of the wood.

Enjoy and good luck with pearwood if you decide to use it in your work.

Category: Wood  | Tags:  | 2 Comments