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Any experience with Ipe?

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  • Any experience with Ipe?

    Has anyone ever experimented cutting Ipe (Brazilian Walnut)? Just finished installing an Ipe staircase and have a few scraps to toy with. Just wondering if anyone has used it before and any tips.
    "All it Takes For the Forces of EVIL to Rule Is For Enough GOOD People To DO NOTHING!"

    Saws: Excaliber 30; Dewalt 788 'Twins', Makita SJ401 (Retired), Grizzly G1012 18" Bandsaw

  • #2
    You and I are in the same boat. I've got some ipe boards under a pile of wood and I'm just waiting for an opportunity to use them. I had been looking to buy some walnut but I baulked at the price . However, the guy at the lumber yard suggested ipe as an alternative. He reckoned it would be little different to cutting walnut.

    I'm looking forward to hearing how you get on.

    There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
    (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


    • #3
      I've heard that Ipe is VERY HARD--the Brazilians made swords and cutting tools out of it!

      A friend said that Ipe sparks when cut with carbide tools...

      I'm intrigued!



      • #4

        I was told by a gentleman in North Carolina that IPE produces a very fine dust that is irritating if you don't wear a mask. Have not had the opportunity to try some yet, so just passing this along. Toby


        • #5
          The wood hardness chart I have has Ipe (Brazillian Walnut) at the top of the list along with Brazillian Ebony. I made a cuckoo clock for my wife out of Brazilian Cherry, and it's mighty hard. Hold on to your saw!


          If you're interested, here is the chart I put together from a number of sources . . .
          Attached Files
          . . . because each piece will be someone's heirloom someday.
          visit sometime
          Hawk 220VS, Delta 40-570


          • #6

            I studied the chart contained in millwab's post and discovered that IPE (which I had never heard of before) has a hardness rating of 3680. I recently had a need to cut 16 intarsia pieces from Bloodwood which I see has a rating of 3000. I can tell you from experience it was tough going.

            I found the best arrangement was to use a mid speed for the saw. High speed makes smoke! I also used a cheap standard blade that has a TPI of 9.5. I went through about 3 blades. After the main pieces of my project were cut, I could use a #5 or #7 blade to do the fine tuning for intarsia fitting.

            Hope this helps in your decision to use a very hard wood for scrolling. Your staircase should never wear out!!

            Scrolling satisfies the passion for intricate creativity. My saw is an Excalibur EX21.


            • #7
              Thanks for the input! I have a hardwood flooring business and have been working with a lot of exotics lately. Either exotic or very rustic (as in barnwood). I have cut brazilian cherry, purpleheart, bloodwood, etc.
              I am going to try to cut the Ipe (pronounced E-pay) in the next few weeks, if I can get a day off (one of the problems from being the boss). Will keep you informed how it goes. Thanks again!

              "All it Takes For the Forces of EVIL to Rule Is For Enough GOOD People To DO NOTHING!"

              Saws: Excaliber 30; Dewalt 788 'Twins', Makita SJ401 (Retired), Grizzly G1012 18" Bandsaw


              • #8
                Ipe is also called Brazilian Ironwood. If your leftovers are 3/4 thick or more, I'd recommend cutting them into pen blanks and selling those to turners.

                I tried to cut/burn thru a piece of ipe and quickly changed my mind. Instead, I glued up a 2"X2"X16 blank and turned a salmon bonker on the lathe. It works great for that!
                ‎"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They're easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

                D. Platt


                • #9

                  As a FYI,

                  IPE is also used to build decks since it resists rot naturally (like cedar).

                  DW788. -Have fun in the shop or it isn't a hobby anymore.

                  NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


                  • #10
                    Re: Ipe

                    my first project was ipe. 5/4x6, i resawed deck cut offs. i took a pattern from lora irish. i reduced the pattern to 5"inch width. it took almost 4 hours to cut the wolf head pattern. that was just the outside line. i used a #1 cheapo reverse tooth and a grizzly 22" variable scroll saw with those little aggrevating blocks to hold the pinless blades. i had a 1/2 gross of assorted blades, the blades went dull in about1-1.5 inches.i then dorked the rpm's up and burned thru another 1/2 inch. that was my best cut with a blade. it took 11 blades to get around the head. i then tried spiral to get the fine detailed inside cuts. i got one full ear cut, and another part half way done. i then ran out of the #2/0 cheapo spiral blades. not wanting to ruin the fine detail of my masterpeice, i reluctantly resorted to using the pinned blades without the annoying blocks. not having the skills,i nibbled the cuts with15 tpi blades. i then ran out of them.(another dozen) new shipment of cheapo blades arrive (assortment pack). i'm still breaking blades or having them slip out. in the second batch #5 double tooth blades. i'm into this project now about 20 hours. it's the wolf or me. the remaining cuts were made with double tooth 5's and 7's. i finished it up in about3 hours.i then looked up the internet, found this fine site, a nice guy named mike, bought a hawk g-4. now i use ipe alot as i like the detail you can get. i just finished some animal puzzles judy and dave peterson. i reduced the patterns to 80% and used #3 double tooth from mikes competitor in pennslyvania the tensioning is a pleasure,i cut one figure and toss the blade. ipe has a density of 1.08, meaning it's more dense than water. most of it will not float. you will find it varies greatly. some has a density and look simular to mahogany, other peices look real exotic. these trees have buttresses long as 200 feet i made lounge chairs out of it. it was easier and cheaper to rough cut the curved peices with premium jig saw blade, then i ran it on a template with a trim bearing router bit. 3/8"bandsaw blades were lasting about 40-50 linear feet, same as a cheapo trim router bit. when doing a deck i use a quality circular saw carbide blade,the wood takes oil finishes great. 1/2" wood is very do- able as far as scroll saw cutting, 5/4 forget it.i cut several peices of 3/4". picking the lighter wood. decking wood it sells locally for about 2.25 a linear foot for 5/4 have fun doug


                    • #11
                      I have had one experience with IPE.It is a very hard wood with fine dust. I made a "stork" birth announcement for my niece.Silly me didn't take a picture before it was sent halfway across Canada.Of course it doesn't help trying to work with wood of this type (although it's more entertaining )when you are off the coast of Europe at sea cutting with a hand held fretsaw that I purchased prior to leaving for a six month deployment. Hand held saws are easier to pack Once you start scrolling ....


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