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  1. #1
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    Default A "New" Casuarina wood

    New to me, that is! I got some "Swamp oak" (Allocasuarina huegeliana obesa) from Euge, about a year (or was it more?) ago, enough to squeeze two saw handles from. Anyhow, I finally got the round tuit to make up a handle: Swamp oak handle 2.jpg

    Interesting stuff. The surface of the piece I got was a deep blackish-brown before I exposed fresh wood, so I assume it will re-darken after a while. It was a little bit easier to plane/rasp than eastern She-oak (A. torulosa), but not a lot. It was easy to scrape & sand & it polished up to a nice tactile surface like other casuarinas I've used. The rays, when viewed from the tangential surface, have a pale spot in the middle - they look like tiny eyes. Haven't seen this in a casuarina before, it might be just this tree, or it might be a characteristic of the species.

    So now I have one more saw handled with a different casuarina, which makes six in total. It shows the wide range in colour & ray size in the species I've played with: saw handles 2.jpg

    Edit #2: I should name the oaks for future reference. On the left (front to back) are: Bull oak (A. leuhmanii), She oak (A. torulosa) and the Swamp oak (A. obesa). On the right, Rock oak (A. heugeliana), River oak (spalted) (A. cunninhamiana) and Hairy or Flame oak (A. inophloia)

    There are many more out there, but I think I will be satisfied with this lot for the time being. Unless I happen to stumble on a particularly nice bit of lace S-oak.

    Cheers,

    Edit - Apologies, I mixed my species up. There are three "Swamp" oaks, and this one, from W.A., is A. obesa, not huegelina . THought I better correct myself before Euge does...
    IW

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  3. #2
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    Very nice looking wood and a nice handle.
    Regards
    John

  4. #3
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    Beautiful work, again, Ian - almost too pretty to use!


    Quote Originally Posted by IanW
    ...Edit - Apologies, I mixed my species up. There are three "Swamp" oaks, and this one, from W.A., is A. obesa, not huegelina . THought I better correct myself before Euge does... ...

    I know nothing about the conventions of Latin names for trees and had never heard of this timber, so I did some googling and got onto the FloraBase managed by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife. They use the following terminology:
    • Casuarina obesa (miq) - swamp sheoak, and
    • Allucasuarina huegeliana (miq) - rock sheoak.

    //florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/1731

    Naming a tree should be simple. Where's Euge?

  5. #4
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    Graeme - in my working life I had to learn the Latin names for bacteria, plants, parasites & animals by the hundreds. They used to roll easily off the tongue once, but the neuron that stores this information is getting very sluggish these days, & prone to confusion...

    The two she-oaks you found are in fact two different species. By chance I happen to have had some Rock oak (A. huegeliana) thanks to another Forumite. The piece I got was the nicest She oak I've worked with. I got a couple of saw handles from it, one of which adorns my favourite dovetail saw, which is the one in front in the pic in the first post, but here is the handle in close-up: Handle.jpg

    It has fine medullary rays & a very fine fiddlebck figure, which isn't so obvious in a static pic. I've only ever seen fiddleback figure in one other She oak, a single tree from the old home farm. A. huegeliana is said to be a pretty common species throughout he wheat belt, if this is representative of the breed, the locals should prize it....

    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    [Unless I happen to stumble on a particularly nice bit of lace S-oak. ]
    I`ll have to keep an eye out . For curiosity what is the ideal size blank for saw handles and does it vary depending on the type of saw.

  7. #6
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    Yep, the size of blank you need varies. Sticking with backsaws, a typical closed handle needs a blank about 200 long x 125 wide. I like to start with a full 25mm thickness if it's roughsawn, to be sure of getting a finished thickness of 22-23mm. For a pistol-type handle, which usually has smaller cheeks, it only needs to be about 160 long. Those are generous dimensions, but I like to have a teeny bit of wriggle room in case there are defects that need to be worked around.

    When making more than one handle, it's more efficient if the blank is longer & maybe a bit wider so you can overlap the handles a bit & minimise waste.

    Cheers,
    IW

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dusteater View Post
    .... For curiosity what is the ideal size blank for saw handles and does it vary depending on the type of saw.
    Besides what Ian says, look carefully at the way in which he has lined up the grain. My first saw handles broke because I got the short grain wrong.

    A "New" Casuarina wood-handle-jpg

  9. #8
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    Yes indeed (hijacking my own thread a bit!), you should try & get as much long-grain as possible running through that narrow part between the grip & cheeks. That's why I prefer an over-sized blank to lay the template out to best advantage. Sometimes you just can't avoid having short grain in the wrong place. If it's a tough wood like a She-oak, you'll get away with it, but it's not best practice, that's for sure...

    Cheers,
    IW

  10. #9
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    I've been distracted by my own survival .. sorry about that.

    Beautiful work and handle Ian! So glad you could make it with the piece of Casuarina obesa.

    Most casuarinas have been separated and renamed as Allocasuarina for reasons botanists can best explain. This species has a number of common names ... "marsh or swampy sheoak" are best because the species is widely planted in WA in saline and salt affected swampy land as it is so salt tolerant. It helps lower the salty water table. But for the average woodworker the woods from 2 genera they can be considered the same*. This species has nice ray figure in its wood (with "birdeyes") which I have thought make it look different. I've only had a small amount of it from one source but I think its is pretty and strong like most casuarinas,

    * I wonder if Ian you have used Belah (Casuarina cristata) and Black Oak (Casuarina pauper)? The latter has a small black heartwood. Neither have conspicuous rays but are very dense, very hard desert species that finish "like glass" I was told.

    Eugene

  11. #10
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    Ian, some years ago you gave me a chunk of what I think was Rock Oak. A section of which went to make this ...



    Is that the correct identification?

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euge View Post
    ... I wonder if Ian you have used Belah (Casuarina cristata) and Black Oak (Casuarina pauper)? The latter has a small black heartwood. Neither have conspicuous rays but are very dense, very hard desert species that finish "like glass" I was told.....
    I have certainly used Belah, Euge. A glass-like finish would be a good description, which is hardly surprising, the stuff is only marginally softer than glass! It is in fact, quite a few notches up the Janka scale from Bull oak, which has the (incorrect) reputation of being the hardest wood in the world. But Belah is up there with the top contenders.

    Apart from the difficulty of working it into anything complicated as a saw handle, it tends to be a bit bland without the large medullary rays of its cousins, but the big strike agin' it, imo, is that it's really hard to dry. If there is any sapwood, or just outer wood, it develops splits no matter how carefully & slowly you dry it.

    Since pauper & cristata are so close (they're still arguing whether pauper rates distinct species status or should be kept as a sub-species), I'm satisfied having explored cristata.....

    C. equisetifolia is another that has inconspicuous rays. I've never got hold of any samples of any use, all the trees I've seen were pretty miserable specimens on the beach, but it's supposed to grow to more than 20 metres (one site says it can be up to 30M where it has naturalised in Florida!)

    I've recently written a little article on the 'Casuarinas I've met' & their working properties & finishability & submitted it to AWR. The editor liked it so it'll be published eventually. It's just my personal experiences with as many as I could cover within the 2,000 words limit. There are several more I could have talked about, but ran out of space before I got to them. What I did manage was just a small sample of what's out there, of course..

    Cheers,
    IW

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    New to me, that is! I got some "Swamp oak" (Allocasuarina huegeliana obesa) from Euge, about a year (or was it more?) ago, enough to squeeze two saw handles from. Anyhow, I finally got the round tuit to make up a handle: Swamp oak handle 2.jpg
    Ian

    A very smart handle indeed. When I enlarged the pic I was taken by what I assume is figure around the top horn. It looks very impressive and is in just the right spot to show it off to the best advantge.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekcohen View Post
    .....Ian, some years ago you gave me a chunk of what I think was Rock Oak. A section of which went to make this ......
    Derek, that sure looks like the Rock oak I have, with the same fine fiddleback figure in it. But are you sure 'twas me who gave it to you?? I have no recollection of sending you any, I would have thought that was sending coal to Newcastle & at least sent you something unique to this side of the island. I've only had the one chunk from Bob, from which I got two small saw handles and some other little bits, & I'm positive I wouldn't have had a piece large enough for the travisher left over.

    But YOU definitely sent ME me some Rock-oak - a nice little marking knife turned from some....

    Cheers,
    IW

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushmiller View Post
    .....When I enlarged the pic I was taken by what I assume is figure around the top horn. It looks very impressive and is in just the right spot to show it off to the best advantge......
    Paul, I suppose it depends on how you define 'lace'. There was a band of sapwood, or at least outer wood, along the top of the piece, which was only just wide enough to fit the handle template on, so I had little choice but to include it. But I'm glad I did, the grain there is a bit swirly (but nowhere near to the same extent as LSO), & adds to the overall effect very nicely. It was pure serendipity, I have to admit. Sometimes nature works to help out with our designs.

    'Tis certainly a nice bit of wood though, those tiny eyes fascinate me every time I look at them. It's already darkening up like the outside of the piece was before I dressed it to cut the handle out.

    While I'm delighted to add this 'specimen' to my little collection of casuarina saw handles, I really don't want to 'discover' any more - I had to ditch a saw from my tool cupboard to fit this one in, but every one of the saws in there now is a regular user that I can't/won't live without, & there's no room for a single 'nother one! And that's the honest truth - I have a very small saw that I would love to find a spot for, but after standing & staring at the open cupborad for about 15 minutes the other day, I decided it really has reached capacity, and I will have to await the development of Tardis technology before I can fit even an extra pencil in there....

    Cheers,
    IW

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanW View Post
    Derek, that sure looks like the Rock oak I have, with the same fine fiddleback figure in it. But are you sure 'twas me who gave it to you?? I have no recollection of sending you any, I would have thought that was sending coal to Newcastle & at least sent you something unique to this side of the island. I've only had the one chunk from Bob, from which I got two small saw handles and some other little bits, & I'm positive I wouldn't have had a piece large enough for the travisher left over.

    But YOU definitely sent ME me some Rock-oak - a nice little marking knife turned from some....

    Cheers,
    Ian, you were probably sloshed at the time ... that was from your last visit! It's been that many years!

    And the knife I made probably came from the chuck. As far as I am aware, RockOak is not found in WA.

    It was not a very large piece, but large enough to save for something special.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

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