Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mahogony Square

A couple weeks ago I was at the lumber yard picking up materials for work when I spotted an unusual piece of wood in the box of bunker wood (the junk wood used to keep good lumber off the ground).  My suspicions were confirmed when I picked it up and looked closer: a 3x4 of Mahogony (I can't tell which sort)!  I could see it was glued up of two pieces, but still respectable pieces.  I have been curious to see how it works, since I've heard that it's a good handtool wood.  The piece I have is quite light, maybe lighter than a similar piece of White Pine, and the grain is pretty distinct.

I first ripped it down the glue line, leaving me with roughly a 2x3.  A  square seemed like a good simple project to get a feel for the wood.  I ripped off a vertical grain piece for the blade, and used the original rip for the stock.  I sawed out the sides of the bridle joint, then chiseled the waste.  This wood is pretty soft and easy to saw, but the end grain also crushes fairly easily with chiseling and even planing.  It's hard to get a good polished finish on the end grain with a plane like I'm used to with the other woods I've worked.

I did a better job of laying this one out than my old one, so it was really square right away, without any fiddling.  I ran out of time so I didn't glue it, that will come later.  The proportions look funny to my eye, but as long as it works I don't really care.

I also bought an inexpensive micrometer a while ago, and I have been measuring some of my plane shavings.  I can get my block plane to take a shaving as thin as .001 (one thousandth of an inch) but no thinner.  I haven't seen the thinnest I can make with my #8 yet, but I bet I can match the block plane.


  1. Nice looking square from scrap wood. I made a bunch of wooden squares and the only thing I like about them is the lightness. I went back to using my metal squares. I keep my wooden squares on display just in case I might need one.

  2. Hi Simon good find on the Mahogany I think you should try some Ipa for the next one. No end grain crushing on this stuff and for sure! If you don't have any I can send you a piece. I like forks for eating. I hope you don't mind me printing a copy of the Chester bridge you took. Very nice 3/4 shot and great lighting. Speaking of "finds" check out my bridge blog to see what I found in the town metal scrap dumpster a few weeks ago. Dick