Timber of-the-Month: Silky Oak

Timber of-the-Month: Silky Oak – Grevillea Robusta (or possibly the oft-mistaken Cardwellia sublimis)

This month’s timber of-the-month from Brad’s Burls is Silky Oak.  It’s not actually an Oak, and is an ornamental tree (still growing up to about 40m), particularly in northern Australia (primarily Queensland).  Also known elsewhere in the world as Lacewood.

Raw As-Cut Silky Oak

Raw As-Cut Silky Oak

Even in an as-cut state, you can see the very distinctive patterns and textures in the timber.

It is quite physically light, and has a tendency to split.  The boards I have though seem relatively stable, and have minor checking at the ends.  However the ends have a more significant problem, and it was simply an unfortunate event that the boards had to be used to nail shut the pallets of wood that Brad’s Burls were bringing to the Melbourne Show.  Unfortunate for them, very fortunate for me!  And the timber around the nail holes will not be wasted either – there are plenty of pen blanks in the remaining portions between the holes.  Of course, the bulk of the boards are in a pristine state, and will soon become boxes as likely as anything.

Oiled Finish

Oiled Finish

Again, a light oil and sand gently accentuates the contrasting timber colours.

Closer Look at Texture

Closer Look at Texture

Closer

Closer

Closer

Closer

Here you can clearly see the interesting contrasting textures in the timber – linear structures with diagonal highlights.  However, a rather uniform pattern of medullary rays and a high lustre and finish occasionally breaks down into fascinating, detailed swirls that could make for a real detail piece in a box lid or something.

Abnormal Pattern Swirl

Abnormal Pattern Swirl

Given the average colour of the timber is pale, I think this would look great with a dark highlight colour for a (thin) frame, and perhaps inside a double dovetail. Just thinking out loud.

Brad's Burls

Timber of-the-Month: Brown Mallee Burl

Timber of-the-Month: Brown Mallee – Eucalyptus Dumosa (?)

The inaugural timber of-the-month from Brad’s Burls is a piece of Brown Mallee Burl, which looks very interesting in it’s as-cut state, and stunning when given a quick sand and oil (let alone any serious finishing).

Brown Mallee Burl as-cut

Brown Mallee Burl as-cut

There is always a lot of tortured, gnarly grain in a burl which always leads to some very striking patterns.  The edge of the burl has a much lighter shade which will make for an awesome natural-edged object.  In this case, I am considering turning it into a dual lidded box, with the edge of the burl actually meeting at the centreline.

Edge of Burl

Edge of Burl

This piece was approximately 400mm x 400mm x 10mm, costing $33.

Once sanded, some checking near the centre became apparent, and the piece has a slight warp which can be flattened out by storing the piece with some weight resting on it.  (Typical of a burl which has been bought from a NSW to Victorian climate – it needs to acclimatise to the local conditions, and allowing it to do so is a critical step.  The process of acclimatisation will take a few weeks, and it is better to allow it to happen now, than to have it happen uncontrolled in the box or whatever you’ve made from it!)

Sanded to 1200 Grit

Sanded to 1200 Grit

Sanding very quickly revealed more of the character in the timber, and even at the lower grits a sheen was quickly produced.  I continued sanding up to 1200 grit, using a ROS (random orbital sander).  There was a surprisingly little amount of dust produced, and no particular smell to note.

Lightly Oiled piece

Lightly Oiled piece

Next, a light oil was applied (Triton in this case), which really revealed the rich, warm mid brown/orange tone.

Centre Portion, Oiled

Centre Portion, Oiled

The centre area of the burl is also worth noting, and shows a very interesting character.

Closeup of Centre Region

Closeup of Centre Region

Getting in very close, and the texture becomes quite fascinating, with a real 3D effect to the surface – this still looks and feels smooth to the touch, but I spent a long time just looking at the macrostructure that is revealed here.

(Macrostructure – a term I’ve nicked from metallurgy, which is used to describe the general crystalline structure of a metal and the distribution of impurities seen on a polished or etched surface by either the naked eye or under low magnification of less than x10.  Seemed quite appropriate here as well).

So a very promising material, and one that will make a great inlay box lid or similar (once I have the confidence to actually cut into it!)

Thanks to Brad’s Burls, and hopefully this will become a useful photo-resource as the list of timbers covered grows (pun intended!)

Brad's Burls

%d bloggers like this: