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Strange Woods and Beautiful Turnings, Part I

by Mark Stephens | January 23rd, 2010

Champagne coller base  24You’re going to get a kick out of these turnings.

Some are inside out or exceptionally intricate.  Others look like regular ol’ bowls.  But all of them use a special and unusual wood that echos the beauty of the forest from which they came.

Of course, let me not fail to mention these were turned using recycled car parts and broken machetes – the finest tools found in the Peruvian Amazon.

To continue on with Wood Turning in the Backwoods, Jim King sent along a variety of pictures to share with you.  Each one using an unusual wood that you’re sure to find stunning.  And the turning concepts and designs aren’t all that typical, either.

Here are the first four – I have 16 total, so keep this channel dialed in.

Think you can name any of these woods just from looking at them?  Jim will enlighten us to these woods down below.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 am and is filed under Tips and Tricks, Wood Conversations, Woodworking Projects. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Strange Woods and Beautiful Turnings, Part I”

  1. Paul Williams says:

    I really loved seeing the wood-turning bowls and different pieces!! How beautiful and exquisite!! Now that is something I love to see and wish to learn to do, because my own ideas for art from wood, are far different from anything I have seen online!! But your site, with these offerings this time, are so inspiring, and THAT is important! Thank you all, so very much!

  2. Jim King says:

    Here is some information on the above photos.

    BLACK AGATE:
    The large salad bowl ( 5 1/2” X 13 ½” ) in the upper left is what we call “Black Agate” and the scientific name is not totally proven but is currently identified as Platymiscium sp. of the Fabaceae family until more studies are made. It is a virtually identical tree in all forms to “Orange Agate” but the wood is darker thus leaving a small doubt. The cell structure and chemical analysis prove to be the same as “Orange Agate” but we have been unable to collect complete vouchers of leaves , regrowth leaves , flowers etc. of a specifically dark version.

    Most people mistake this wood for Cocobolo due to its color and figure but studies definitely prove it is not. It does not produce the allergic reactions of Cocobolo. This wood can be found growing 36 inches in diameter or more unlike the small Cocobolo tree. This wood is extremely stable and nice to work with. It kiln dries well without degrade . Unlike the more well known Cocobolo it does not change color over time but holds its color and beautiful grain display .

    Future uses for this wood in addition to turnings as it becomes known in the markets will certainly be fine flooring and elegant furniture, A book matched conference table would be a show stopper.

    BRAZIL NUTS:
    The upper right hand photo showing three stacked round containers are “Brazil Nut” shells. I have no idea how the monkeys get into these shells and feast on the nuts. You can throw them to a cement floor and cannot damage them. The only way we have been able to cut or machine them is with good saw blades or turning tools. If you have never made a hollow turning to brag about here is the easy way to make your first. The Brazil nut tree is very large and produces an abundance of fruit. When working in the jungle it is wise not to work below an Brazil nut tree or much less camp under one. The one to two pound nuts can do some damage falling from 75 feet. Howler monkeys commonly use the nuts as weapons to throw down at intruders.

    The wood parts to the stacked set are made of chocolate “Ipe”. Ipe is a popular wood for decking and lawn furniture in the US. It is very hard and has a very high what we call here “silica” content that is very destructive to planer blades and other tools. Working at night it is common to see sparks when working it. The scientific name most widely used is “Tabebuia” of the “Bignoniaceae “ family . This is another wood that has a variety of scientific names due to the reasons previously discussed. In addition to the standard confusion about the scientific names that widely exists there are at least three species that are not differentiated in any scientific journals. Here we have Black , yellow and an a greenish type. They are all marketed under the same name but actually it is like marketing red oak and white oak as the same wood.

    PINK FLAME:
    The bottom two photos are a champagne cooler I made for a wedding party. The champagne bottle shown by its side is normal size for an idea of the size. Both the column and the finial are inside out turnings. It is a glue up of hundreds of pieces of “Pink Flame” wood. As discussed earlier we thought that when we found this wood we had a new species but it turned out not to be so. Pink flame is unusual as it clearly grows as male and female. The male being “Rinorea guianensis” and the female being “Rinorea racemosa” both of the “Violaceae” family or part of the wild violet flower family. When first discussing this wood with the US Department of Agriculture Tropical Forestry Lab in Madison, Wisconsin they were firmly convinced I was not seeing well when I told them I had a pink and rose colored wood. They were sure that there could be no pink wood in the Amazon or they would have at least heard about it as pink is very rare in woods with the other being “Pink Ivory” from Africa..

    After some polite but distant conversations they agreed that there could maybe exist a bush type plant that had pink fiber. Upon that they were sent a log slice about 24 inches in diameter and they at that point became a believer. We eventually discovered that the first scientific name put on this wood was in 1796 by a German explorer as we discussed in the last blog.

    This wood is not totally color fast but does hold its pink and rose colors for several years , it is much more color fast than Pink Ivory . It is a very delicate wood to kiln dry as it splits easily if dried to fast. Once it is dry it is very vice to work with and stable, the colors are impressive to anyone.

    This wood for turnings must be handeled with care. By boiling the rough turned blanks I have been able to produce many nice turnings. Prior to boiling I was about to give up on this wood.

    • Ralph says:

      Jim
      Thanks for the info on Pink Flame, we have been cursing it since we got a supply from you, the great looks of the wood caused us to keep trying though

      • Jim King says:

        Ralph:

        I don´t think I know you but I am sorry the information was not given to you as to how to work with this wood. It is truely a beast but beautiful. Very much like the problems Snakewood has.

      • Ralph, what are the troubles you’re having with the wood? Losing it to cull?