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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Default Karri - Eucalyptus diversicolor. Pros and Cons?

    What are your thoughts on karri for woodwork?
    Pros and cons?

    First of all I am going to list its latin name as pro - Eucalyptus diversicolor. This is a species name that not only I can pronounce but I can remember! There is a first for everything! And diversicolor it is.

    I discovered it basically by accident. I went to buy some merbau as a cheap alternative to mahogany. I saw some karri decking and I liked the colour of it. I bought it, not knowing anything about it. The colour and colour variations have only grown on me since.

    The bits I bought were naturally quite straight, clear and free of gum veins etc. (I picked out the darker, straighter ones.) So I have the impression that this is normal. Perhaps you can enlighen me? Being decking timber it is relatively cheap and easy to source.
    I bought the decking and dressed it but since I picked out only straight lengths from the pile it didn't need much taken off to be straight and flat. It seems to be naturally a tall straight tree with straight grain to me. Is that right?

    It is very heavy which I'm going to list as a con for woodwork projects. Although that could be a pro when used for a base for something.

    It is also very hard and doesn't really seem to compress at all. This could be a pro or a con I guess. I found it helped me get tight joints but it also meant a long time to work it with hand tools. When I pushed it too far it failed without warning. I'd say that was all down to my inexperience with hardwood in general and not a reflection of the timber species.

    The reason it is used for decking is that it is very strong. I'm going to list that as pro for woodwork, but I guess great strength is often not so important for most woodwork projects.

    I am not aware of a high silica content in karri - perhaps you can educate me on that? I found it machined well. I guess being hard there would be some extra wear, but I'm a weekend hobbist, so what me worry?

    All in all, I like it and I feel it is an underrated timber. Although perhaps I am simply too inexperienced to know any better. Why isn't it used by woodworkers more often?

    I made two standing lamps for the lounge.


    Attachment 473912

    I also made two videos on how I built them.
    You can see part 1 here: YouTube
    Part 2 will be released this Friday here: YouTube

    I also dressed and thined some more of it for another project but then I changed my mind and dropped that project altogether. So I still have a little ready, waiting in the shed for the right project to come along.

    I'd be really interested to learn your thoughts.
    My YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/2_KPRN6I9SE

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
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    Default

    Hi Dave,

    I have some but not much experience with it.

    As with Merbau it seems to be a timber that is dense and strong and hence used architecturally, but rarely mentioned for woodworking.

    So far I've found it is tough to plane and presumably hard on your tools (although I have not enough experience to really judge). My experience has been that with a standard bevel-down planes at standard pitches (45 degree beds) I had huge amount of tearout but I may have just been unlucky with the pieces I've had.

    Still I love the colour and will continue to buy more when I see it, and try and figure it out.

    I don't mind wood being tough on your tools as long as those tools are easy enough to re-sharpen.

    Chris

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Perth
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    9,396

    Default

    Interesting that it was for decking! Termites love Karri!

    Regards from Perth

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

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
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    1,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cgcc View Post

    So far I've found it is tough to plane and presumably hard on your tools (although I have not enough experience to really judge). My experience has been that with a standard bevel-down planes at standard pitches (45 degree beds) I had huge amount of tearout but I may have just been unlucky with the pieces I've had.

    Chris
    I don't have a proper work bench so I can't really hand plane anything. Hence I wouldn't know either. It comes up beautifully when using power tools to surface it.

    I had no problem using chisels on it. I did notice that hand sanding down to a line is a long slow exercise. Fortunately the finish from sharp power tools is such that it didn't need much finish sanding.
    My YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/2_KPRN6I9SE

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