Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So I Had This 200 Year Old Wood......

.......just laying around the shop, and thought I would turn a mallet.  It's the billet on the left, included in the pic of my mallets because it's a future mallet.

And no, it wasn't just laying around the shop, there is a story, of course!  I was looking for some dense wood for a mallet - I wanted Lignum Vitae but the real stuff is pricey.  I read about a company called Greener Lumber in a woodworking magazine.  They harvest 200 year old timbers from the bottom of rivers in South and Central America, and it is described as hard, dense and heavy - sounded perfect.

I wrote Greener Lumber an email and asked if they had any reasonably priced wood that might work for a mallet.  Lo and behold, some time later Richard Petty, the president of Greener Lumber, replied to my inquiry. Yes, they had something called "Bullet Tree" (Bucida buceras for you plant-ologists). Richard described it as "like plate steel", and very dense, but he acknowledged that it had some issues with checking while drying, but he figured that wouldn't hurt a mallet. He offered to send a chunk of wood, no charge, if I would let him know how the mallet project "turned" (pun intended) out. Well, it doesn't get much better than that in my book. Richard even paid for postage! I offered to, but he turned it down. Therefore, he is a gentleman and a scholar as far as I'm concerned. NOTE: I have no connection with Greener Lumber and I'd  ever heard of them before I read the article. 

 Long story short, I think the mallet turned out beautifully. See pics below, some of them also show the lignum vitae mallet I patterned this one after. It's not quite as dense as the LV - the LV mallet weighs in at 2 lbs, and the Bullet Tree mallet is 1 lb 11 oz.

Still on the lathe, before BLO 

After BLO

And next to it's Lignum Vitae brother

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