June 2006


President's corner

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This & That



This & That

A few meetings ago, Stan Booker brought a piece of Ipe wood. It looked very interesting and was a heavy wood. He was willing to give it away. John Schmidt and I wrestled for it and since John is YOUNGER than me, he won. It is available and here are some characteristics.

Other Common Names: Amapa (Mexico), Cortez (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica), Guayacan (Panama), Guayacan polvillo (Colombia), Flor Amarillo (Venezuela), Greenhart (Surinam), Madera negra (Ecuador), Tahuari (Peru), Ipe (Brazil), Lapacho negro (Paraguay, Argentina), Brazilian Walnut (US).

Distribution: Throughout continental tropical America and some of the Lesser Antilles. The tree grows on a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests.

The Tree: May grow to 140 to 150 ft in height with trunk diameters of 6 ft. Frequently to heights of 100 ft and diameters of 2 to 3 ft.

General Characteristics: Heartwood olive brown to dark brown, sometimes with lighter or darker striping. Texture fine to medium; luster low to medium; grain straight to irregular and rather oily looking. The Sapwood is relatively thick and yellowish gray or gray brown. Odor when milled is sweet, vanilla.

Drying and Shrinkage: Generally reported to air-dry rapidly with only slight checking and warping. Kiln schedule T3-C1 is suggested for 4/4 stock. Shrinkage green to oven dry: radial 6.6%; tangential 8.0%; volumetric 13.2%. Movement after manufacture is rated as small.

Working Properties: Moderately difficult to work especially with hand tools; has a blunting effect on cutting edges, finishes smoothly except where grain is very wavy. The fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in some workers.

Durability: It is very resistant to attack by decay fungi and termites: has good resistance in harsh environments.

Preservation: The wood is resistant to preservation treatments.

Weight: 69-75 lbs/cu. Ft.

Common Uses: Railroad ties, heavy construction, tool handles, for turning, industrial flooring, textile mill items and decorative veneers.

Mark Rand