Showing off My Wood – Part 3

My mother is slowly regaining the sensitivity and mobility in the knee of her leg, so she is recovering from some of the negative side effects of the hip replacement surgery and she seems to be on the right track. She has no pains and is much more mobile and cheerful than before the surgery. Had it not been for my father’s rapid turn down, things would be swell.

My father has slept well for several nights in a row now, his anti-coagulant medication was adjusted after blood tests and he also finally got his prescription meds from a urologist again. He stopped complaining and takes the antipsychotics regularly. He will probably be never fully OK again, but he seems stable, for now. He was also finally able to do something other than moping, so his obsessive persistent thoughts might be going away and we might be on the right track there as well.

Thus at least for now, I have some piece of mind and I would like to present to you some more of my crafting material collection.

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

I am not 100% sure about this wood. Some of it was given to me as apricot wood, and some of it I think is apricot wood based on its characteristics. Its looks are certainly consistent with the genus Prunus.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

It is very twisted wood, with reddish-brown heartwood and yellow-orange sapwood. It looks very interesting, but like many woods of the Prunus genus, it tends to develop deep cracks that are often invisible on the outside and become apparent only after one cuts the wood to size. So it is certain that it will require the filling of those cracks with epoxy. I do have enough of it to make some splendid-looking knife sets.

I suspect that trying to treat it with ammonia would turn it brown, just as it does with ordinary cherry.

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

This one picture is only the tip of the iceberg. I have several large boxes and a few bundles of longer pieces. I will have to use it as a veneer for knife blocks though, mainly because of its peculiar properties.

Lilac wood has very nice colors – creamy white sapwood, and light brown heartwood with lilac-colored streaks. It is very hard and dense wood, probably the densest in my collection, although not the hardest. However, it has so small pores that it never really dries properly. When cut and formed to size, it tends to develop cracks (checking) on the end grain even when it was drying in the attic for years prior to that. That is an unfortunate property of many kinds of hardwood with small pores. Lilac is really not suitable for some big works because of this. Even big pieces – which are rare – have to be cut down significantly and the wood tends to crack, warp and twist for a looooooong time.

Ammonia turns the sapwood to brown and the heartwood to even darker brown. I do not think it is worth it, this wood is more beautiful in its original form. I will probably need to use some UV-stabilized finishes for it to preserve its color.

Staghorn sumach (Rhus typhina)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Not native species. Originally it was sparingly planted in parks and gardens as a decorative plant. It started to propagate beyond that and I am afraid it might become an invasive species soon.

I got a piece of this wood from my cousin about twenty years ago and I had some hopes for it. But now I am only including it here for the sake of completeness, I might just use it as firewood. The wood had a pleasant light-green tint when it was fresh, but not only did it develop an unholy amount of cracks during drying, the greenish ting has almost disappeared and the wood has now a dull greyish-yellow color. I certainly do not have high hopes for this small bundle and I am in no hurry to use it.

Plum (Prunus domestica)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Absolutely stunning wood, one of my all-time favorites. All woods of the Prunus genus are beautiful, but this is special to me. Not for any particular reason, I just really like how it looks.

The sapwood is yellowish and not very interesting, but the heartwood has a gorgeous reddish color. It is hard with small pores and barely visible growth rings. It works well. I do not have a lot and not very many big pieces. I might have enough to make a few blocks with a veneer but not many. I will have to combine it with other woods if I decide to use it for that.

It is a very beautiful wood and I do have big plans for some of the pieces. I really, really do hope those plans will go well. I already have one finished blade that I think is deserving of it. If only I had the time and strength to work on knives.

Eye ain’t done yet. There will be at least one more post of this. Possibly more.


  1. Tethys says

    Thanks for the aged parents update. I worry!

    I have a jewelry box made of maple, with the top made out of several horizontal mini-slabs of sumac. My Uncle made it using very old trees from the farm, which got destroyed in a massive tornado. North Dakota is not a place known for growing trees at all, so it might be far more dense than sumac grown in more hospitable climates.

    It is not at all green once it gets a finish. It has nearly purple heartwood, surrounded by very pale sapwood. I’ve seen lovely things in sumac, but they are usually carved bowls or turned on a lathe.

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