wood it's characteristics and use in model building

didit

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#1
I have been working with wood, trees and lumber for many years and I have been asked to start a topic on wood.

so here is my first post


Any wood can be sold under different trade names boxwood is a good one for that there are 70 different woods sold as boxwood most are not even close to Boxwood. The biggest mystery on the lumber market was "Castillo boxwood" it was called exotic Hickory, Brazilian Maple, Palo blanko and a list of other trade names it was introduced into the states as wood flooring then some importer looked at it and thought hum looks kind of like boxwood, so someone gave it a different name and jacked the price up and BINGO! you now have expensive boxwood.

the samples you see are actually the same wood from the same load of Calycophyllum multiflorum (sold as south American boxwood Castillo boxwood) The top samples were what the floor manufactures were looking for and sold it under different names. The bottom sample is the same wood from the same load but looks totally different. This is not the first time the same wood is sold under different trade names. An example is Red Gum in the south the wood has a bold figure of reds, browns and orange and it is sold as Red Gum, in the North the same tree, the lumber is sold as Sweet Gum and has no figure at all it is a pale cream color.

castillo b.jpg

lets see what this wood and looks like when compare to true boxwood. Bottom piece is what is being sold as Castillo boxwood the piece sitting on top is true boxwood. Not quite the same is it?

boxwood 1.jpg

Lets just imagine at some trade show a group of woodworkers and importers are sitting around having dinner and the conversation goes something like this.

A wood importer says I am thinking about getting a container load of Palo Blanko and selling the wood to the craft/woodworkers , it’s a nice wood for turning, inlay, model building etc. The problem is it is common flooring and I can’t sell it as some exotic craft wood or specialty wood it needs a “brand name” Everyone at the table is sitting there hum? Then Art who is having Salmon with capers holds up his spoon with a caper and says Caparidaceae. You don’t want to use a trade name that is already used in the lumber trade or any wood sold as lumber. John shaking his finger says “yes! I got it Capparis has 350 or so species. This family of trees has some fine texture, hard and dense yellowish wood. The locals call it Castillo. The trees are never lumbered they are much too small and never exported; it is used by the locals as firewood. Ok then Castillo it is and because the wood kind of resembles Boxwood you can call it Castillo boxwood. Problem is Capparis are small trees not much more than a shrub. You can’t sell lumber 3 inches thick x 14 inches wide and 15 feet long from a tree that might grow to 6 to 8 inch diameter trunk. The answer is let’s transplant Castillio boxwood into the Calycophyllum multiflorum family. This will work because the name is real the trade name is fake but no one cares what you sell it as. A new wood is invented and is sold as an exotic replacement for boxwood. Lucky the wood is common and cheap and exported as lumber so the supply can continue.

Ethically you go to a fruit stand and tell the guy I want to purchase oranges you pay your money and he gives you a bag of apples. So you say wait a minute these are not oranges. Your told they are both fruit and both round don't be so picky. Is it the same with Castillo Boxwood? Your being sold what you think is Boxwood buy really getting something not even related to boxwood. The answer is yes and no it is widely accepted in the lumber trade Castillo is a wood sold as a substitute for boxwood and it does serve that purpose. Things might come into question if you were to build a first class model ship for a client who requested Boxwood and you used something else that was not true boxwood. Is it right for say an antique dealer selling an Ivory carving when actually it is a plastic made to just look like ivory?



ok lets look up this scientific name in the catalog of timbers department of forestry Yale university. catalog complied by Samuel J Record dean of the school of forestry they have been cataloging timbers for about 100 years and list over 70,000 types of wood just in the Americas.

The lumber trade list it as such



Common Name(s): Castello Boxwood, Ivorywood, Palo Blanco

Scientific Name: Calycophyllum multiflorum

can you spot in the Common Name(s): Castillo Boxwood in the Yale list under the scientific name? bet you can’t because these are made up names by a wood dealer selling you oranges and giving you apples.

img027.jpg
img028.jpg

So Castillo is not in the family of Calycophyllum multiflorum

There is no such wood as Castillo boxwood it is not a wood it is a trade name

So exactly where did the name Castillo come from? Lets go back to that dinner conversation and see if there is any truth in it.

Going back to Yale department of forestry lets check the 700 page catalog of wood and timber and see if there really is a listing for Castillo.

img029.jpg

Sure enough there is a wood called Castillo and Castillo is not from South America it is from Honduras you can see in the listing after the name which last time I checked is not in south America it is in Central America.

There is a list of woods in the Yale department of forestry ( south American boxwood family) for many years sold under the trade name of West Indian Boxwood. Next we will take a look at these woods.
 
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Uwek

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#2
Very good explanations.....we are learning....and you prevent us to buy apples, but pay for oranges.
Many thanks and going forward.....great.
Also many thanks to the person who asked you to make this topic.
 

didit

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#3
ok so I am setting here thinking should I keep it simple or should I go overboard and just go deep into it? lets go deep into the subject I can always delete and edit the topic

because Boxwood is considered one of the top woods used I model ship building it will be the first wood discussed in this topic.

you will notice a blur along some of the text this is because the Yale school of forestry catalog and publication is a very thick book and it will not lay flat for scanning. I got this book from my late brothers library and it is an old book. I am not about to rip out pages to get a clear scan so we just have to live with the blur.

lets begin by listing all the Boxwoods around the world just so you can see actually how many trees fall into this family of BUXUS.

There are quite a few trees and shrubs and the wood is similar with subtle difference in color, hardness, texture etc. you would have to seriously be into boxwood to tell the differences between them. Many are not timbered and unavailable in the lumber trade they are local use only and no way are you going to get a sample unless you live in the area or you are a member of the International wood collectors society and part of the memberships network. Also keep in mind some of the listed trees are not trees at all but shrubs and not even suitable as lumber.

First is the data and it is taken from reliable sources and NOT from on line data bases where information is not checked just copied and pasted.

I will go through some of my piles and take pictures of different types of wood as we go along. That is easier said than done as I have on an average 12,000 board feet of lumber and logs measured in tons. So, yes it might take awhile to locate different woods.

So here we go
 
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didit

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#4
it is not possible to go through each and every wood because these are the scientific names and this list has literally hundreds of common names and also woods that are not in the Buxus family but are great substitutes.

Buxus austro-yunnanensis (Yunnan Box; southwest China)
Buxus balearica (Balearic Box; Balearic Islands, southern Spain, northwest Africa)
Buxus bodinieri (China)
Buxus cephalantha (China)
Buxus cochinchinensis (Malaysia)
Buxus colchica (Georgian Box; western Caucasus; considered also a syn. of B. sempervirens)
Buxus hainanensis (Hainan Box; China: Hainan)
Buxus harlandii (Harland's Box; southern China)
Buxus hebecarpa (China)
Buxus henryi (Henry's Box; China)
Buxus hyrcana (Caspian Box; Alborz, eastern Caucasus; considered also a syn. of B. sempervirens)
Buxus ichangensis (China)
Buxus latistyla (China)
Buxus linearifolia (China)
Buxus megistophylla (China)
Buxus microphylla (Japanese Box; Korea, China; long cultivated in Japan)
Buxus mollicula (China)
Buxus myrica (China)
Buxus papillosa (western Himalaya)
Buxus pubiramea (China)
Buxus rivularis (Philippines)
Buxus rolfei (Borneo)
Buxus rugulosa (China, eastern Himalaya)
Buxus rupicola (Malaysia)
Buxus sempervirens (Common Box or European Box; western and southern Europe, except far southwest)
Buxus sinica (Chinese Box; China, Korea, Japan)
Buxus stenophylla (China)
Buxus wallichiana (Himalayan Box; Himalaya)
Africa, Madagascar
Buxus acuminata (Africa: Zaire; syn. Notobuxus acuminata)
Buxus calcarea (Madagascar endemic)
Buxus capuronii (Madagascar endemic)
Buxus hildebrantii (eastern Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia)
Buxus humbertii (Humbert's Box; Madagascar endemic)
Buxus itremoensis (Madagascar endemic)
Buxus lisowskii (Congo)
Buxus macowanii (Cape Box; eastern and northern South Africa)
Buxus macrocarpa (Madagascar endemic)
Buxus madagascarica (Madagascan Box; Madagascar, Comoros)
Buxus monticola (Madagascar endemic)
Buxus moratii (Madagascar, Comoros)
Buxus natalensis (Natal Box; eastern South Africa; syn. Notobuxus natalensis)
Buxus obtusifolia (eastern Africa; syn. Notobuxus obtusifolia)
Buxus rabenantoandroi (Madagascar endemic; syn. B. angustifolia GE Schatz & Lowry non Mill.)
Americas
Buxus aneura (Cuba)
Buxus bartletii (Central America)
Buxus brevipes (Cuba)
Buxus citrifolia (Venezuela)
Buxus crassifolia (Cuba)
Buxus ekmanii (Cuba)
Buxus excisa (Cuba)
Buxus heterophylla (Cuba)
Buxus imbricata (Cuba)
Buxus lancifolia (Mexico)
Buxus macrophylla (Central America)
Buxus mexicana (Mexico)
Buxus muelleriana (Cuba)
Buxus olivacea (Cuba)
Buxus pilosula (Cuba)
Buxus portoricensis (Puerto Rico)
Buxus pubescens (Mexico)
Buxus rheedioides (Cuba)
Buxus vahlii (Vahl's Box or Smooth Box; Puerto Rico; syn. B. laevigata)
 

didit

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#5
What is it with boxwood well lets look at history

Elephant tusk ivory has been prized since antiquity for the creation of small sculptures. Responsive to the cutting of fine detail, it enables carvers to achieve great artistic and emotional expressiveness in a highly compressed format. When polished, the lustrous surface of ivory is enticing to the touch and especially well suited for works meant to be handled in the intimate environment of private devotion or the collectors’ cabinets of the late Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Ivory Routes to Europe
During the golden age of ivory carvings, African ivory reached Europe through a sophisticated international trade network had evolved in the tenth century. About 1350, the expansion of the Ottoman empire in north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean began to impede this trade, leading, perhaps, to the collapse of carving activity in Europe.

In the late fifteenth century,

Portuguese explorers seeking a route to Asia that would bypass Ottoman territories, traveled down the west coast of Africa; there they established trade relations with the kingdoms in Sierra Leone and Benin that had long been bringing ivory from the interior of the continent. Portuguese traders acquired raw ivory and commissioned pieces from skillful African carvers for export to Europe. In the wake of initial contacts, a small stream of remarkable objects, carved with the tastes of foreign collectors in mind, made their way to the European market.

Afro-Portuguese Ivories
Portuguese explorers and traders, impressed by the high quality of ivory carving they encountered along the coast of West Africa, commissioned remarkable hybrid works that combine European imagery and forms with African ornament.

The objects range from inventive spoons with figurative handles to more elaborate “saltcellars” and hunting horns destined for collectors who admired them for their fine quality and exoticism. According to contemporary sources, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Florence owned several African ivory carvings, as did grand dukes of Saxony and the Tyrol.

Renaissance Carving
The use of ivory for important sculpture declined in the late Middle Ages, coinciding with the demise of the ivory trade between Europe and Africa after the conquest of North Africa. With rare exceptions, European sculptors of small-scale works turned to boxwood, a medium that shares some attributes of ivory. Boxwood, native to the Mediterranean region, is dense, hard, and capable of being highly polished, with an even grain and structure that yield masterfully detailed carvings. The product of a shrubby plant, it can be sculpted only in relatively small pieces. Sculptures in boxwood and related fine-grained wood were prized by artists and collectors for their exoticism, rarity, and deep warm brown, often bronzy surface

The Baroque Era
The intense revival of ivory carving between 1600 and the mid-eighteenth century stemmed from the renewed flow of the valuable material into the hands of European sculptors, following the opening of new maritime routes along the east and west coasts of Africa. This revival coincided with the development of the Baroque style, particularly in the Netherlands and Central Europe. Emperors and princely patrons there created court positions for ivory carvers. They and other wealthy, cosmopolitan clients supported the growing number of skilled workshops whose traditions spread throughout the area, influencing generations of sculptors.

Although the artists who worked in ivory and boxwood also created monumental sculptures for churches and major civic spaces, their small pieces are characterized by an intensity of expression that often eluded their larger works. Works commissioned for public spaces continued to be primarily religious in nature, while a growing circle of humanist collectors were inclined to indulge a wider variety of subjects. Seeking art for display in the private arena of the Kunstkammer,

The Kunstkammer
Small-scale carvings in ivory and Boxwood were among the rare objects collected by princes and wealthy citizens of the Low Countries and Central Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Many of their palaces had a Kunstkammer or a Wunderkammer (chamber for art or curiosities), where their treasures were displayed. The intention was to suggest the wealth and learning of the collector and to impress guests.

Boxwood started out as a replacement for ivory and in time Boxwood carvings themselves became collector items for the wealthy.

box carving1.jpg

take a close look for that WOW! factor

box carving2.jpg
 

didit

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#7
here is a photo of my pile of West Indian boxwood 734 board feet weight about 2 1/2 tons and this is how it is purchased.

box2.jpg

notice the difference in color from the bottom to the top of the pile. Some boards are almost white some have a pink cast and others are pale yellow.

This is something most people do not think about Any wood even in the same shipment will vary in color. For the most part it all falls in a general range but if you start a project and a month or year later order more to finish you might or might not get a match to what you already have. you are looking at just one edge the boards are 8 to 10 across the pile.

box1.jpg
 

didit

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#8
here is a shipment of wood that is being sold on the lumber market under the name Castillo boxwood or South American Boxwood or just a generic boxwood.

it is not Buxus in any way shape or form nor is it south American Boxwood. This is a common wood sold as flooring under names such as exotic hickory, Palo blanko, Brazilian Maple or whatever name you choose depending on the market your selling to.

You know it is not a boxwood because first off these planks are 3 inches thick up to 14 inches wide and 12 feet long. Boxwood type woods just do not grow that big. The color and the figure does not suggest boxwood, a South American or West Indian boxwood is a pale clear yellow to cream color and no figure and much smaller planks.

c006.jpg

looking closer you can see areas that are clear of any figure so when sold as Boxwood 70% of this 500 board foot pile is usable. The figured stuff is sold off to wood turners.

lo009.jpg
 

didit

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#9
and here are 2 samples
top strip is the wood sold under the name of Castillo or generic boxwood the bottom strip is West Indian boxwood

you can sort out pieces of the top wood to select more yellow but it tends to have a grayish tint



cwb1.jpg

same two samples top and bottom I went out in the shop and dug up the lightest piece of the Castillo and yes it is the same wood as the top sample this gives you an idea of the color range of the same wood from the same shipment. The wood gets lighter but it tends to go more to a cream color with a slight gray tint. The bottom piece is West Indian Boxwood.

cc634.jpg
 
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didit

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#10
so lets take a look at Buxus

it is that rich yellow with a tint of red. In time this will age to a rich golden color almost bronze

one problem with using Buxus for model building is the fact it is only found in small pieces. It would be very difficult to fine big enough pieces and pieces clear of defects to build an entire model plus the cost would be staggering.
If someone tells you they are building a Boxwood model either they have a lot of extra money laying around and just purchased a large supply or they didn't say a wood that kind of sort of looks like boxwood but is really something else.

Dc637.jpg
 

didit

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#11
by the way I am trying to show as close to actual color as I can but lighting, pieces of wood, color from computer to computer all very
so take this as a sort of "to give you an idea of differences."
 

didit

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#12
so why use Buxus? because it is the wood used by artists dating back a few 100 years and it was used in the Admiralty models along with pearwood so you can say it is the traditional wood of the arts. But if your using a faux boxwood then it is a mute point can't be following tradition if your using a fake boxwood.
Regardless if it faux boxwood or not it is still a good looking wood and it does work and finish well. One issue is the harder and denser a wood the more brittle it becomes thus harder to bend. Boxwood is great for miniature carving and as a construction wood, that is pieces that do not need bending such as planking. You can bend it, but it is just difficult to do.

You will find some model builders that insist if your going to build ship models the only wood you can use is boxwood, Holly, pearwood and a short list of others. I say hogwash! there are 100s of wood you can use.

Take common Willow a planking strip of this wood you can bend in a complete circle. Personally I like the color and it finishes to a smooth surface.

m6206.jpg

m6180.jpg

Models built from light colored wood show the joinery more than darker colored wood and they reflect light more showing more detail. Wood such as boxwood also has the quality of being translucent so it can be polished and light tend to dance off the surface. To be blunt about it Boxwood is the choice of fine artists, it does require a certain skill level to work with it, it is expensive and hard to fine.

the following models were built by Harold Hahn using West Indian Boxwood

1roebuck17c_edited-1.jpg

alfred178.jpg

5115.jpg

5190.jpg

and you can get remarkable detail the figures are no bigger than your thumb

close photos.jpg
 
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zoly99sask

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#13
There are more types of willow,which one you refer to?
 

didit

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#15
the wood is used on an industrial scale for things like packing boxes and crates, polo balls, venetian blinds, furniture, artificial limbs and in Europe as cricket bats. From time to time you will find it at specialty wood dealers.

in the northeast and Canada it is known as Black Willow down south it is known as Swamp Willow in Mexico it is called Sauz some trade names are Dudley Willow, Goodling Willow
family Salicaceae the species used industrially is Salix Nigra

what makes it so nice for hull planking is the grain is interlocking so it does not split or splinter very easy. It very stable and shrinks and expands very little if at all.
 

didit

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#16
Something model builders do not think about is the fact wood changes color. Here is a couple examples

this was one Cherry log cut last fall. the piece in the back is the original cut and the piece up front is a cut I just made. You can see how much darker the wood turned. The logs in the back round are Walunt

cherry logs.jpg

here is fresh cut Walnut

walnut1.jpg

here is an older cut

walnut2.jpg

the longer it sits the darker brown it becomes

if you ever seen Poplar it has a lime green heartwood, lay that board out in the sun and that lime green turns a nice mellow tan. Expose Cherry or Walnut to steel and it will "ebonize" and turn black.

see that blue stain that tells me there is a nail or a steel eye bolt someplace in the log. hitting a 3/8 steel eyebolt with a chain saw really messes up the chain.

cherry b.jpg
 
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didit

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#18
Buying the hype is not selling quality it is paying for something you really do not need. As an example you may hear so and so sells milled planking with a perfect glass smooth finish and milled to within .005 thousandths of an inch. Buying such perfect wood takes select or better material, it takes longer to mill and requires attention to produce the wood thus it cost more. If you stop and think about it if your planking a hull which is a process of bending and twisting planking, it may or may not always lay perfectly flat so once the planking job is done you will most likely have to sand the hull. Why pay the extra for perfectly smooth planks when your going to sand them anyhow? also keep in mind buying material to very close tolerances leaves little room to fit and sand. working with close to size materials requires building to tight tolerances.
Either buying milled wood or rough lumber remember a little more work on your part might save you a lot of money.
If you have an understanding of the lumber trade and know what to ask for you can save yourself a lot of money. All lumber goes through a grading system and the higher the grade the more it cost. The highest grades are FAS which stands for first and second grade and No.1 common. These two top grades are what you will find on the lumber market. The other grades are 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B these grades are rarely sold on the retail market because of the low profit margins. Grading is based on board size and defects like bow, checking, knots, splits and twist. When a wood dealer buys in bulk the lumber is graded for the very best pieces and these pieces are jacked way up in price to cover the cost of the entire bundle. Lower grades are then either just scrapped or sold off as low grade. For example a 100 board foot bundle of Holly may contain 30% top grade boards 40% No. 1 common and the last 30% is considered scrap. Top grade can sell for as much as $35.00 a board foot where as the low grade can be bought for as low as $6.00 a board foot. All the profit is made with the FAS boards. Here is an example both these boards are Holly the bottom board is graded as FAS and will sell for as much as $105.00 as where the top board is in the 2 or 3 common grade and either scrapped or sold for about $25.00. For model builders using short strips of wood 18 inches or less there is a lot of usable wood in the top plank. A dealer really does not like to bother with planks like the top piece because there is very little profit so he would rather sell you the bottom board and toss the top one on the scrap pile. When both planks are cut into strips for planking the wood is exactly the same.

LN0438.jpg
 

didit

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#19
some woods are great for bending and some are too brittle or hard. Boxwood will snap at a 4 Black Willow and natural pearwood will bend to an 8

Putting a strip on the Test-o-meter for bending, citrus orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime gets almost to10 it does not get much better than that. Testing for bending, a strip of wood 24 inches long x 1/16 thick and 3/16 wide is bent to see how far up a scale it can go without breaking.

There is no citrus available on the lumber market, the reason is the trees are to small to be commercially viable as lumber. The only way to get citrus wood is to collect it yourself or buy pieces from firewood dealers. The problem with that is large orchards of citrus only grow in Florida, Texas and mostly in California. So if you live anywhere else in North America the wood is unavailable. Cost wise if you live in an area where it grows it is free for the asking or priced as firewood. If your wondering about contacting someone or a firewood supplier and have them send you the wood expect to pay a high price for it. Because of the heavy weight a small log 3 inches in diameter by 24 inches long will cost $36.00 in postage alone making it a very expensive wood outside its source.

SCN0442.jpg
 

didit

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#20
a model ship builder once told me your not scratch building a model unless you harvest the wood yourself, well see that Applewood in the model I planted that tree and when it blew down in a storm I salvaged it, cut it, dried it and use it in that model. Extreme scratch building indeed!

Depending on where you live you can find some pretty exotic woods for model building. Say you live in the deep southern parts of North America.
Sea Grape, citrus, Loquat, Carambola, Guava

If you live in Australia Carrotwood and Cheesewood are really nice.

in the North
Blue Beech, Hawthorn

in England
Rowan the wood is said to contain magical power grows in Church a grave yards very difficult to get a sample
and the list goes on and on
 
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