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  1. #1
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    Default What is Dead Finish ?

    What is Dead Finish?

    We often hear references to trees/ shrubs and their woods called DEAD FINISH. What is it? Good question.

    There are a number of species (not varieties) that are given that common name. Importantly, their woods are VERY different because they are from different species and not all are Acacias. All have other names that make them less easily confused but people prefer to continue to use "dead finish” for the drama of it. Here are some species that are referred to as "dead finish”"

    Acacia tetragonophylla (refers to its 4 sided spiky phyllodes, leaves of sorts) across much of dryland Australia. wood is very dense, fine textured and red brown in colour.

    Acacia carneorum: another rare dryland acacia shrub with prickly phylodes, but with a bright purple heartwood, often cracked and with borer holes. Most grows in western NSW and is probably a protected species now.

    Archidendropsis basaltica: Although a leguminous plant like acacias, it grows to a tree with ferny foliage, a pink-purple-red heartwood sometimes with dark streaks, and with a yellow sapwood. Its wood is dense and hard and an excellent turning wood. From central Queensland. Best called Red Lancewood.

    There is even a eucalypt called dead finish Eucalyptus cloeziana, or Gympie Messmate (see Australian Trees and Shrubs) and a shrub Cassinia quinquefaria!

    The more ambiguity the more confusion so unique / individual common names are preferred, avoiding poplar names.

    I can post pics if interested.

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  3. #2
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    Ian W. made some marking gauges and a knife for me from what he called dead finish and they are very nice pieces.

  4. #3
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    That is the problem with common names, often the same common name is used for different species in different areas.

    The one from where I grew up in Central Western Queensland is Archidendropsis basaltica.
    We also had Acacia tetragonophylla but the local common name for it was Prickly Wattle.
    It also has a couple of Aboriginal names. Kurara & Arlketyerre

    Other things called Dead Finish include
    Cassinia quinquefaria
    Acacia carneorum
    Eucalyptus cloeziana

    Google my find more.
    Cliff.
    If you find a post of mine that is missing a pic that you'd like to see, let me know & I'll see if I can find a copy.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parks View Post
    Ian W. made some marking gauges and a knife for me from what he called dead finish and they are very nice pieces.
    That was Archidendropsis basaltica that I sent to him.
    Cliff.
    If you find a post of mine that is missing a pic that you'd like to see, let me know & I'll see if I can find a copy.

  6. #5
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    Hi Cliff. There are few more dead finish trees in West QLd. When I used to work the cattle station West Qld.Also known as Red lancewood.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Rogers View Post
    That was Archidendropsis basaltica that I sent to him.
    Cliff, I'm pretty sure Chris's gauges aren't from the DF you gave me, I used that up long ago, all that's left are a few precious scraps I haven't figured out how to use, yet!

    It was one of the most difficult bits of wood to work with that I've ever struck, thanks partly to hardness, but mainly due to that odd, chequered grain pattern that wanted to tear out at the least provocation. But sooo nice when finally bullied it into shape: cutting g_DF.jpg

    Unless I've got things mixed up, Chris's gauges came from from a chunk I bought a few years later, at a wood show: Gauges_Dead Finish.jpg

    It was nice stuff, and quite a bit easier to work thanks to a less wild grain, but you'd think they were two entirely different species at first glance. However, if you look closely at the two woods side by side, you can see some similarities in wood structure.

    You said the piece you gave me was unique & you were not wrong!


    Cheers,
    IW

  8. #7
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    Hi Ian.

    Beautiful tools Ian, a credit to you skills and wood used.

    The second pair of gauges you made have those dark lines that I referred to in my first post . It described the most common species referred to as "dead finish”. Of course errors are often made in naming and identification. The gauges with the dark lines (second pic) is likely Arhidentropsis basaltica (Red lancewood or dead finish to some). It shows a lot of variability in heartwood colour from pink to red to tone of red-purple . The figure you refer to* I have seen in this species which makes finishing difficult but adds interest to the finished item.

    The other species of "dead finish” I refer to are small and less useful for all but smaller woodcrafts. The eucalypt excepted.

    * "chequered grain" is good decription which I have also heard called beeswing figure. You get it in some Red Gum

  9. #8
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    Euge, you may have mis-understood me -I was presenting both gauges as A. basaltica, just pointing out how different two trees of the same species can grow. I trust Cliff's identification of the first wood, he harvested it 'in country'.

    The second pair are certainly more typical of A. basaltica wood as I've seen it displayed in various places since. The plainer wood is still nice stuff, & was easier to work, but plenty tough enough for purpose - should be good for many generations of use after Chris is finished with 'em, I reckon. I'm in two minds about Cliff's wood; it is probably the most spectacular bit of wood I've ever had to play with, but it sure cost me some angst in getting it presentable, so I would hesitate if I ever stumbled on more like it - for about 3 or 4 seconds, maybe, before grabbing it with both hands......

    Cheers
    IW

  10. #9
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    Ian, I was saying it my own way... not wishing to suggest the gauges were a different species at all, or that a mistake was made. My comments referred to features of this one species, (colour, dark lines, figure) and suggesting that the second pair of gauges was more typical of A. baslatica, which you have said so yourself, ie I agree.

    Over the decades I've cut it many times myself and am familiar with its many faces.

    My intention (on this forum) is to identify wood properly (by a unique name) because just common names lead to wrong identifications. Of course I get identifications wrong too, but proper id of wood is important to me and why I start posts like this, to show that one name can refer to a number of different species using one common name all with different woods. Using just "Dead Finish" is a good example. Red Lancewood is a more specific name for A. basaltica IMO and less likely to cause misunderstanding.

    Cheers

  11. #10
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    The marking gauges made by Ian.

    IMG_2318.jpgIMG_2319.jpg

  12. #11
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    Yep, looks like I remembered it correctly, Chris. I think I got about 4 gauges in total, from the piece yours came out of. Yours still look pristine - don't you use 'em??

    No worries, Euge, I thought I might've confused the issue a bit, that's all - I'm pretty good at that.

    You won't get any arguments from me when it comes to using 'proper' names where we can. I appreciate not everyone is used to the Linnean system, and it's not always easy to get an exact id (even botanists get it wrong at times), but it sure helps if we try to pin things down with a bit of precision.

    I guess 'Red Lancewood' is a bit better than 'Dead Finish', but I've seen Acacia shirleyi referred to as lancewood, and something else I came across a few years ago (I can't remember what it was, atm), was also called 'lancewood'. Somehow, I think we'll always be stuck with confusion, but we'll do our best...

    Cheers,
    IW

  13. #12
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    I do use them but not daily and not often, putting them in a glass case sounds like a good idea sometimes but that would be a total waste of good tools which should be used.

  14. #13
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    Euge,

    Well we all know the story... At some point some indigenous people were discussing the tree with Europeans and someone said that "[If this tree ever dies from drought, then this whole country is dead finish]".

    I feel confident that they would not have been confusing one tree with another, so then in that case, which is it? Which tree is the REAL Dead Finish from which the name is derived?

    My understanding, which, admittedly, is only based on word of mouth and what's available in publication, is that it was A. basaltica.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers,
    Luke

  15. #14
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    Ian,

    It's also possible that those gauges came from the stuff I brought back from Rockhampton. You taught me how to make a pencil gauge and I gave you a couple of chunks of it as a thank you. It was that straight-grained, orange A. basaltica that has the nice (but temporary) purplish hue right after being cut.

    Cheers,
    Luke

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Maddux View Post
    Ian,

    It's also possible that those gauges came from the stuff I brought back from Rockhampton. You taught me how to make a pencil gauge and I gave you a couple of chunks of it as a thank you. It was that straight-grained, orange A. basaltica that has the nice (but temporary) purplish hue right after being cut.

    Cheers,
    Luke
    Indeed, you may well be right there, Luke. Now you remind me, I think the stuff I bought was very plain, so I probably used that for the beams, and the better stuff from you for the stocks. Once I could've told you where every piece of wood I used came from, but there have been too many pieces & too many years & too many neurons have dropped out of circuit, I'm afraid

    I used to be diligent about keeping a shed log, but that slipped after retirement, and I've been very slack lately. I think the rot started with digital cameras - I planned to take lots of pictures of any significant project, then put them together & add dimensions & notes. I got as far as the pictures (usually), but the rest didn't happen, and my written notes just trailed off. I have about 5 exercise books full of sketch drawings, with alterations & calculations scrawled in any spare place on the pages. I could look up something made 30 years & more ago & tell you what depth the door panel grooves are, but something made just a couple of years ago is nothing more than a few pics in my laptop and a dim memory of the dimensions & joinery....

    Cheers,
    IW

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