Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Possible wood from Chinese elm

I'll preface this blog entry by saying that although The Lady's family refers to this tree as "Chinese elm", this is technically incorrect -- although it's a typical misnomer.

It's really "Chinese celtis" -- although it also goes by the names celtis, Chinese elm, Chinese hackberry, Chinese nettle-tree, hackberry, and Japanese hackberry.


It's a "junk" tree around here:  not only is it an invasive species, but it also rots pretty easily, if left out in the weather.


I have a piece of it that I carry around in my pocket for good luck.  It's a wedge that's about the size of one-eighth of a ping-pong ball.  I've had it for a few years, so it's thoroughly seasoned.  It's hard enough that I can't make a mark in it with my fingernail.

A few days ago I rescued two small logs (sections of the trunk) from my in-laws' firewood pile:  each about a foot and a half long, by about 6 to 8 inches diameter.  I split them into eighths (to minimize splitting while they dry), dunked the ends in boiled linseed oil (to slightly retard checking), and used a scrub plane on one of them to check out the figure, then rubbed on some Danish oil.

Here's what I got:

You may want to click to enlarge:  I've intentionally left it full resolution (and thus, full filesize) per photo.  On the left it's essentially quartersawn.  You can see a hint of flecks -- not as much as I'd hoped.  It might show up better with some stains or dyes.

A fairly subtle grain:  that could be a good thing, or a bad thing.  Reminds me a little of balsa wood.

Whiter than pine.  I've left this piece where the sunlight can hit it:  I'm curious to see if it yellows over time.

Here's the end grain (with boiled linseed oil) of the same piece:  the left, underside is essentially quartersawn -- and it drifts into something beginning to approach flatsawn.

An Australian woodworking forum says it's not very good for woodworking -- but so far I'm finding the opposite.  Your mileage may vary.

Meanwhile, I've stored my sections of wood -- most of them riven "blanks" -- and I'll come back to them in a year or two.  Might make an interesting (or, bland?) wooden box or small wooden chest.


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