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I Forge Iron

Bois d' arc/Osage Orange/Horse Apple trees and wood


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How many of you have used the wood and how many have access to the tree but never realized what the wood has to offer?  I'll talk about it a little in hopes of generating interest amongest those that might be unfamilar but I suggest doing a search.  Most blacksmiths around here prefered the stump over other species for anvil stands.  Google doesn't tell you that wood is soft while green.  I've had sawmills refuse working it until I showed them it's no harder while green than oak.  Few documents mention caracter of wood but it can be sanded to a nice finish.  IMO it's a natural for knife handles.  It will never break nor rot when used as a handle in hammer,hatchet or ax.  

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Every once in a while you will run across a stand of osage here but it is not very common. Most people here could not identify the tree if they had to. I do not how many people i have heard call them pawpaws or catalpas. So we mostly use hickory. 

 

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Depends on where you at; some places it's a common weed tree and was planted in the dustbowl to make wind breaks.  I've seen a row of them grown so big in Kansas that a large group of people had parked and  were camping *under* the curve of the branches, vans, tents and all!

I have used 80 year old fence posts of Osage orange for knife handles, with a good hand rubbed oil finish it's beautiful, looked like you were seeing a couple of inches into the wood.  It can be hard to get straight grain pieces though.  I still have a few pieces left of some I sourced from firewood 30 some years ago.

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I wish we had some decent hardwoods in Alaska. Sure the state is covered in trees like hair on a hippy dog but there aren't a lot of varieties: Spruce and Doug fir, birch and cottonwood are mostly IT for south central. There's Tamarack ad "aspen" as well in the interior, maybe more. If you live in the north you can make an expedition to the nearest trees or collect driftwood. Whale bone is a major traditional construction material. 

Some maple grows here, I have one that's waste high, I got as a seedling at the state fair 7-8 years. Tag alder and willow don't make very good handles other than knives even if they're stabilized. There are a few apple orchards that have been around long enough to have real trees. 

I sometimes wish the climate was more conducive to different trees. But the benefits of living here make up for it nicely. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I was watching a show last night about a little village in Alaska, one morning when the residents woke up the whole island and much of the sea was covered in an orange slime. After sending samples all the way the N. Carolina they found out the slime was from a mold that grows on spruce trees, spruce rust i believe they called it. The mystery is how it got there, not 1 single tree on the island and no spruces for miles and miles. I think the village was Kivalina, at least that is what a quick search of Alaskan orange slime gets. OH, it was first thought to be crustacean eggs. 

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A month ago I cut down a 23 inch diameter sycamore on my property.  It grew this big after hogging sun and water for 15 years and shading out my garden, so I had to move the garden to a sunnier spot.  That worked out for the better because I built a 17'x67' greenhouse over the new garden last fall.  Sycamore wood is very hard and reminds me of ironwood from the east.  Some of the limbs grow horizontally for 20 ft.  The bottom round is what I am chainsaw carving my djembe drum from. The second round will be another drum and the third was the anvil stand.  The rest of the tree will be many projects, hopefully many handles for forged tool heads.

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Sycamore grows with a twist to the wood and is difficult to split.

Strength:  At 12 percent moisture content, the wood weighs about 34 pounds per cubic foot, making it a relatively light weight hardwood.

Workability:  The wood is rated as intermediate to good in its ability to be turned and bored. As a result of interlocked grain, the wood is poor in shaping and very poor in planning.

Commercial Use, Grading, and Value:  The lumber is commonly used for drawer sides as it seems to lubricate itself and wears well. It is also used for concealed parts in furniture as well as exposed parts in some less expensive furniture. It can be used for interior millwork and paneling, particularly if quartersawn stock is available. Other uses include pallets, crates, boxes, and veneer for baskets. It is only priced for the southern market region.The wood is graded standard in the NHLA rules, and it is a very inexpensive wood.

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Thanks for the info Glen.  This 24”x21” diameter sycamore was incredibly heavy green; I could barely lift it off the ground, almost hurt my back, heavier than my 136lb anvil.  I am excited it will dry to light weight.  I have carved the djembe drum shell down to 1.5” now but still have to take it to 1” thickness to complete.  Still weighs over 50lbs and 3 weeks since green.  The important thing is to get the center hole made quick before cracking.  Used 18” gas chainsaw to rough carve then axe and hammer.  But 80% is with this awesome rechargeable 12” chainsaw with half dollar tip.  Should finish her soon.  I have 40 gallons of curly oily fluff that saw spit out to use as fire starter. Hope to forge weld 2 top rings to hold skin head.image.thumb.jpeg.cc553ba8c84b2d4adf7f1975d6ed6347.jpeg

 

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7 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

  It can be hard to get straight grain pieces though.  I still have a few pieces left of some I sourced from firewood 30 some years ago.

Yes,much of grain is twisted but spliting a log will reveal sections of straight grain that can be sawn.  It make's a super hot fire that has been known to ruin stoves.  While burning it pop's and send's up sparks making for an interesting bonefire.  In NE Tx where it is common much has gone into fence post and staves.  There are barbed wire fence posts and cemetery stave fences more than 150 years old.   

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My signal has been wonky the last couple of days. Maybe I can get a quick comment to go through. I made a hammer handle from Bois d'arc. I don't know how well it holds up to that application because I put a head on it that I ended up not using much. Not because of the handle, just don't like the head very well. I know it sure turns your hands and fingernails yellow but can be a beautiful wood

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