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by Mark Stephens Apr 20, 2010 14
Let’s just say you and I are walking in a forest in Cameroon, a smallish country in Central Africa that’s roughly the size of California.
Walking in the forest of Cameroon is no ordinary experience. It’s home to several endangered primates, and a mind-blowing number of tropical birds. The air here is thick and humid because it rains some 400 inches per year.
The trees here tower 100 feet or more into the air.
One such tree is the bubinga. You and I are woodworkers, so naturally we’re looking at some of these trees and wondering what they look like on the inside; wondering what fantastic things the wood can make.
The bubinga tree can be up to 8 feet in diameter. Can you imagine that? 8 feet roundish and 100 feet long. A tree that big weighs not one, not two, not 10, but over 56 tons.
You’re not just going to fell one with the 56 cc Stihl you have in your pickup truck back home.
So that’s the tree. I could tell you all about the wood, but a browse through the lumberjocks.com projects presents all the evidence needed to argue about the beauty and popularity of bubinga. Here are eight excellent examples that really stuck out to me (by the way, click any of these pictures to go to the discussion and commentary from the builder of each one):
Bubinga makes a good accent wood because it can take shape and fine details without any fuss.
Pair it up with a lighter colored wood, and you get a surprising result.
Since the wood takes a finish so easily, furniture makers like it. As always, an elegant design and a contrasting wood makes a bubinga project a real head-turner.
A clear bartop finish is all this needs to look incredible.
I’d sure like the opportunity to belly up to this bar at the end of the day.
Brian here says he used a tung oil and a hand applied polyurethane, which is a great combo. The oil sinks in and visually pushes the figure outward while the poly gives the entire piece protection.
Notice how the dark inlay reflects a staff of music?
He too used an applied oil (this time boiled linseed oil) and a varnish topcoat for surface protection.
Just spend a minute or two gazing at this project.
Just the curved drawer fronts are made of bubinga, and they’re joined to the maple sides with half-blind dovetails.
When the only wood you have to work with is bubinga, it’ll also make a fine project all by itself:
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