Wood it's characteristics and use in model building

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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poking around in the log pile I found a short log of box elder a member of the Maple family

box elder.jpg

What caught my eye is the ripples in the log this indicates a figure that will look something like this, I can also see different colors in the log. right now it looks a dirty gray color and all wood when kept out will turn a gray color. This color does not go very far into the wood and is removed quite east.

curlwood.jpg


Box Elder is one of those Maples that can have a spectacular figure so when I get Box Elder logs I will block them out or keep the entire log for the local wood turners.

BE cross section.jpgbox elder 2.jpgbox elder 1.jpg

Maple will also have some interesting figure

maple f1.jpg

dsc01192.jpgth6NRV6N4G.jpgspalting.jpg

One of the logs on the pile is Ambrosia Maple
 
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Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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I get questions about using dead wood for modeling. The questions are usually about having a tree that dies and then cutting it down to use as lumber.

It all depends on how long it has been dead but in most cases using naturally dead wood is fine. However, in my experience for some reason dry dead wood is much harder to work it is like cutting wood that is full of sand it is very abrasive on tools. Naturally dry dead wood also forms fine micro crack throughout the log and once cut tends to fall apart.

Awesome Informative post. I work with a lot of wood types for making Bows great information in this post to help me in that process. Thank You

In many cases wood that has been dead for a long time becomes hard and brittle. In the above case I would not use dead wood for a bow.
Fresh cut Osage Orange was used for bow making around these parts for a couple hundred years. Yew is the wood for long bows.

These are logs of dead Ash if green I would not be able to pick them off the ground, but theses logs I can pick up and throw them a few feet that is because natural dried dead wood gets punky very quickly and you will never get a smooth finish on the wood.

ro4.jpg

looking at the end you can see a few inches around the log has rotted but the center of the logs are still usable. Personally I do not bother with such logs they are firewood.

dw2.jpg

this is what is called ring shank and naturally dried deadwood tends to separate at the growth rings. This is an extreme case but sometimes you don't notice it until you use the lumber and it begins to fall apart. Wood workers will use this type of wood because it does have a beauty to it. In this case the wood is stabilized by putting it in an epoxy and under a vacuum the air is sucked out and replaced by the epoxy. Spalted wood is nothing more than dead wood and as you can see in the above examples of Maple the results are striking.

ro5.jpg

now this has gone beyond use and is called dirt wood, It just crumbles

ro2.jpg
 

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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The log now being cut is a log of Red Maple on the lumber market it would be called Ambrosia Maple, it is not how the wood naturally grows but is the result of the Ambrosia Beetle boring a hole into the tree. You can see on the end of the log the darker markings.

ambrosia maple.jpg

When the log is cut those marks are long streaks. Here are examples of Ambrosia Maple and you can see the tiny hole from the beetle.

am maple bowl.jpgam maple box.jpgambrosia-maple-flooring.jpgtonewood-ambrosia-maple.jpg

For those of you following the research and in time the construction of a model of the steam Frigate Mississippi of all the wood I have here which amounts to tons the one wood I selected to build the Mississippi is Red Maple. This wood is a dream to work with, it is very stable and I can get a really nice luster finish on it. Another reason is the subtle tones of color. As I build up each frame the shift in color will make the individual components of the frames stand out from one another. also the wood is light in color and lighter colored woods tend to make the joinery stand out better than darker woods. The log I have in the yard has only a slight ambrosia figure so most of the wood will look like this. As the wood ages the white will turn a soft amber /honey color.

red maple.jpg
 

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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if your told to use fruit wood for modeling that will depend on what fruit wood you use. Here is a piece cut from a log of Plum the guys dumped off just this morning. A little to bold in color but the sapwood looks usable for modeling.

plum.jpg
 

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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Harold Underhill used Maple to build his model of the Leon and Harold Hahn used Maple for the colonial dockyard diorama. Maple turns a beautiful honey to golden yellow color. There is little figure to the wood so you will get an even color. The wood is so named Hard Maple, Rock Maple for a reason it is difficult to work with and will burn a saw blade if it is not super sharp. It would be difficult to work with little 4 inch table saws and hobby tools it will burn the blade as well as the wood or if you hog the saw you might burn out the motor.

a30.jpg
 

epicdoom

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I use good live wood for my Bows for sure I build them mostly in Osage with Sinew or Bamboo backing. I also like Hickory and have made Iron wood bows. Id like to find some good woods for laminated handles and such as I do make take down recurve bow. the ambrosia maple and plum would be awesome. I'm currently building a Quilted maple guitar. I play guitar and always wanted to make one myself. Ton of work putting laminations together
 

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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I had a furniture maker stop by when he noticed the logs of Oak and wanted some slabs. I said sure but I got to ask why green wood?

He said because when you kiln dry wood it sets and the wood will keep it's memory making bending difficult if it dries straight it want to stay straight or will split before it bends, wood that warps while drying will stay warped and it is very difficult to straighten it out flat. Green wood or air dried wood does not have a set memory so once bent it will set bent.

I did notice years ago working seasoned wood was so much better than the kiln dried wood found in kits.
That wood could be a year or more setting there drying out to a point it looses its natural elasticity and it becomes brittle. This could be the reason builders have such a hard time bending hull planking.

you learn something new all the time wood has a memory
 

paullippo

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Hello didit
That was such an interesting post I found it so informative that its going in my favorites bar so I can refer to it easily.
If I can go back to around your #42 post that's me, I have spent a lot of time and money sourcing wood for colour to use for a ship build and have so much of it now that I'll probably never use it all, I've done the same with tools bought a Dremel table saw on ebay and not content with one I end up with 4 still I do enjoy it.

Again a very very interesting post. Thanks for your time doing it.

Kind regards
Paul
 

Dave Stevens (Lumberyard)

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there are times you want parts of a model black. Ebony is the wood of choice for black parts, however ebony is not always black sometimes it has a figure to it that looks like dark brown and black marble. also Ebony is very brittle and difficult to work. Cost wise you can spend $90.00 a board foot for Ebony
There are builders who like using natural woods and using Ebony does not add a whole lot of value to the model so why not use another wood and make it look like Ebony.

There are times I wanted to color wood black and found myself having to buy a can of wood stain only to use a table spoon full and the rest never gets used. Well there are other ways and here are some videos on how to do it




 
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