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  • IRON WOOD

    HI FOLKS, I HAVE GOTTEN AHOLD OF SOME IRON WOOD. I USED AN OLD KNIFE TO TEST THE HARDNESS OF IT.. ITS LIKE TRYING TO CARVE A ROCK. HAS ANYONE EVER TRYED TO CARVE THE STUFF?? WILL IT WRECK MY KNIVES IF I USED MY GOOD ONES? IT SEEMS LIKE I WOULD..THANKS FOR ANY INFO AT ALL ON CARVING IRONWOOD......DAN....

  • #2
    Re: IRON WOOD

    A lot of ironwood comes here (arizona) from Mexico, all carved items, you name it, fish, roadrunners etc, but yes it is very hard and I think they power carve it, but not sure...not something I want to carve with my knife!

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    • #3
      Re: IRON WOOD

      Dan,
      Iron wood grows here in Ontario as well I find you can carve it green it carves pretty good but if you let is season it is also like carving rock it doesnt get its name for nothing it is as hard as iron. Once it is seasoned it will carve but it will take the edge off your tools in not time. I would not suggest carving it unless you use power.
      Colin

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      • #4
        Re: IRON WOOD

        First question is which 'iron wood' do you have? There are several species of wood that are commonly called iron wood, including hop hornbeam, witch hazel, at leat one oriental evergreen, and one member of the birch family. They all are very hard but some are harder and more dense.

        If your knives and tools are beveled for soft woods like basswood, butternut, etc. ironwood will dull them VERY rapidly. For harder woods you need a shorter and thicker bevel. I have two knives and one veiner set up for harder woods but still haven't tried blue ash, let alone hickory or ironwood (hop hornbeam here in the midwest).

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        • #5
          Re: IRON WOOD

          we used to camp out in sw arizona a lot during the winter mos.
          I did carve some ironwood. some folks carved it a lot, small pieces mostly, and most of the work was done with rasps and files.
          I tried power tools, little dremils and just about everything up to the chainsaw which got dull real quick.......sometimes the teeth just broke. The grinders got clogged awful quick and got worn out easily also. Don't do it without a protective mask, the dust and smoke from it will damage your lungs.
          It makes for a real warm campfire and most interesting to watch it burn. the worst part is trying to lug a very big piece into camp... could make yer back hurt real bad.
          art

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          • #6
            Re: IRON WOOD

            Questions about ironwood come up now and then. As already stated, the first question is which 'ironwood' do you have. Nearly every region has its own ironwood. However, if you have the ironwood from Arizona you need to take special precaution. This wood is very dark and dense. The sapwood is light colored. The smooth animal carvings seen in a lot of airports are this form of ironwood. It is extremely difficult to use handtools and the tendency is to turn to power. One should always use precaution when creating wood dust; but, ironwood (Arizona type) is especially dangerous. Seri indians started carving it in the late 19th century. It took a while for people to figure out why the early carvers of this wood were dying off at an early age. Now they avoid breathing in the dust and live to a ripe old age. It is a beautiful wood and worth the precaution.
            Paul Guraedy
            Whooping Hollow Woods
            Alpena, ARkansas

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            • #7
              Re: IRON WOOD

              Not positive, but have heard that ironwood in Arizona and California is protected...apparently not much of it left now. I also heard there is still quite a lot in southern Arizona...

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              • #8
                Re: IRON WOOD

                If this is the same as the Hornbeam that grows in Texarkana,Tx anybody with a strong back, a sharp saw and a weak mind can have as much as they want from my land. I burned up 2 chains on my saw just cutting 2-3' saplings. I hear they used to use it for hammer and chisel handles.
                It's an odd looking tree, has a strange cross section of the trunk. Doesn't get very big, biggest tree on my place is only 8-10' diameter and 20-30' tall.

                Rick

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                • #9
                  Re: IRON WOOD

                  that small stuff must make terrific walking sticks! I have one, I have not done anything with it yet, a hornbeam..from Alabama.

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                  • #10

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                    • #11
                      Re: IRON WOOD

                      does the bark peel easily? should it be peeled green or dry?

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                      • #12
                        Re: IRON WOOD

                        The bark doesn't peel easilly either way. I usually dry the sticks with the bark on....dip the ends in paraffin wax to seal first. I guess you could peel them firs and then seal....don't see where it would make much difference with this wood.

                        Al

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                        • #13
                          Re: IRON WOOD

                          What, no takers on my offer? What if I throw in some sweet gum?

                          Rick

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                          • #14
                            Re: IRON WOOD

                            I WOULD LIKE YOU ALL FOR THE INFO ON IRONWOOD. YOU ALL ANSWERED MY QUESTION .A LITTLE BIT OF INFO HERE AND A LITTLE INFO THERE AND PUT IT ALL TO GATHER I GOT THE MESSAGE LOUD & CLEAR.. I GUESS ILL STAY AWAY FROM THE IRON WOOD. I JUST DON'T WANT TO TAKE A CHANCE ON SCREWING UP ALL MY NICE TOOLS...BY THE WAY, THE WOOD IS FROM SO. WESTERN AZ.. THANKS AGAIN FRIENDS...DAN..

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                            • #15
                              Re: IRON WOOD

                              My two cewnts worth. One Ironwood tree is Carpinus Caroliniana. Small ornamental tree (30') that grows native along stream beds and in low wet areas. Native from Michigan to Florida. May run further north. Sometimes called Blue Beech because of the leaf similitity to Beech.
                              Ostrya virginiana is Hop Hormbean which can be carved fairly easily.
                              Follow Al's advice, use it for a walkingstick but don't make it fancy by trying to carve it! It's a 'son of a beech' to carve.

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