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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY Lacewood or Silky Oak



Lacewood is such a neat, exotic wood that it is used extensively in veneers, decorative boxes and ornaments, intarsia, plywood, and turning, in fact in any craft project, where you would like a rather exotic wood appearance without having to deal with a really hard wood. It makes great scales on an intarsia or carved fish. It lays fairly flat so it is easy to use as a veneer on novelty boxes. It is soft enough to carve small ornaments.

The Tree: Cardwellia sublimes,robusta
The common name for this tree grown in Australia is "silky oak" of which there are maybe 25+ species included in the family. They go by many names: Australian Silky-oak, Northern Silky-oak, Queensland Silky-oak, bulloak,selena, louro faia. The most common is a tall, straight tree with heights of 100ft and trunk diameter of up to 48". It has become a popular ornamental tree, in parks across Australia and even in the southern US and other tropic zones. It has beautiful yellow-orange flowers in the spring.

Wood Description:
Lacewood, possesses one of the most unique grain patterns of all the exotics, and is most easily recognized by its large rays. (looks like the cross sections of a whole bunch of cell under the microscope). The rays can be as small as 1/4" square and I've seen some as large as 1" long... Each piece can be quite different. but either way, to get this unique figure lacewood must be quartersawn, or the wood becomes somewhat boring and you miss the exotic appearance of the large "cell pattern".

The grain is relatively straight or at least on every board I have seen and easily cut both with and across the board. The wood is light reddish-brown and quite course in texture.

Be careful when working with it as the sawdust can cause skin irritation or respiratory problem. This is especially true if the wood is green.

Weight: 34lbs/cuft.

Lacewood accepts a good finish, and sands relatively easily, but sometimes you can still feel the rays like in curly wood, thus best advised to use a sanding block to level any surface uniformly.

I've never tried to stain it, so if any of you out there are one up one me,..... let me know and I'll post an answer.

It has good workability but a reduced cutting angle, may help, when planing. The rays, on quartersawn lacewood may tend to tear out. Use sharp cutters and a reduced angle of about 20 degrees.

A wide belt sander works even better, but most of us do not have access to such a beast. I'm told it has good bending properties but must admit I have never tested that particular characteristics of lacewood.


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007