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RiverMan

Hardwoods

17 posts in this topic

In my small town it's very difficult to find many of the hardwoods, we simply don't have a good supply of them. When I go to the mill the pull out one dusty maple board and that's it. I was able to get mahogany but now that source is nearly dry. I got online and started looking at maple and mahogany. Can someone using maple tell me what type they are using? Within maple there is:

hard

soft

birdseye

rock

sugar

black

norway

etc.

See my confusion?

Mahogany is not much better.

Also for those of you using cedar, is it "western red" you are using or is it the aromatic version that people build hope chests and line closets with? Here we have an unlimited amount of western red but it's quite soft and not my favorite.

Thank you!

Jed

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I haven't read about its resistance to water striper. I have always been worried about it being too soft to hold a screw eye altho I must admit it's nice to shape. Also it takes a bunch of lead! I must admit tho that some of the best gliding/swimming baits I have made have come from cedar.

Thx.

Jed

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Jed,

I started using hard maple but it is like steel.Very hard on tool bits ,router bits or saw blades. The maple I use is red or soft maple. But don't be fooled by calling it soft maple. It is certainly harder than the Mahogany you are using

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Jed;

You are about to swim in some very muddy waters. Of the names you listed, some refer to a species, or a group of species, or to the figure of the wood. The only way to know for sure is to know the botanical name of the species you want. For example...Acer negundo is known as Manitoba maple, Ash leaved maple, or box elder depending on the region you are in and who you are talking to. Norway, sugar, red and black maple refer to species of maples. Sugar maple is sometimes called hard maple or hard rock maple. Silver maple is often called soft maple.

Birdseye, spalted and feather crotch refer to grain patterns.

Of the woods labeled as cedar, none are a true cedar. Depending on which specific one you are talking about, they could be from the cypress, false cypress, arborvitae or juniper family. For example the wood used for cedar chests is actually a juniper. It could be Rocky Mountain Juniper which is Juniperus scopulorum, but is more likely Eastern Red Cedar which is Juniperus virginiana.

I know this will not answer all your questions, but may keep you from spending too much time banging your head against the wall, or in this case the tree. If I can help any more, please feel free to contact me.

You may want to scrounge some wood from old pallets. The real soft ones are usually pine, and the harder ones are often maple or oak. All you can do is try some and see if you like them. It would also help to be on good terms with the local tree trimmers. Honey locust is a beautiful hard wood with yellow to tan color. Basswood is called linden in the nursery trade. Black locust can be found in my area, and although is considered a trash tree by many, it has a beautiful tan wood with good rot resistance. Russian olive has a pretty dark brown to black wood that is fairly easy to work. Many fo these are common across the country along with oak, birch, cherry,ash elm and many others. Often pieces of these can be had for the asking from the tree trimmers.

Dale :huh:

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I agree in general about the vagaries of trying to very specific about maple/acer I've used it all my working life for violin making and restoring(yes it's what violins are made of !)It can vary a lot in hardness between each sub species even from the same tree.To be fair I've not known what particular kind of maple/sycamore I've been using these years since it largely a matter of apperance the figure and flame being the issue,consequently I make a lot of my lures with off cuts and odd bits and it's been a reliable material.Since I tune every lure jerkbait or crank as soon as you start adding lead and making modifications what ever the density of the wood was in first place diminishes in importence......er I think.

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Oh that cleared things right up for me, lol. Mostly what I want is a "consistent source" so that I can get figure out what works on it and go forward. I was at this point with the mahogany, now it's dried up! I can always go back to the Poplar, can get that here in constant supply but wanted to work with a harder wood. I will keep looking. Thank you for the help. Hehehehehehehe....

Jed

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Jed;

Even wood from the same species is not consistent. Trees that grow in less than ideal conditions within their growing range grow slower than trees in a better location. Usually the wood from these trees is denser and harder than trees grown in better conditions. There may not be a noticable differance for our purposes, but there is a difference. As a side note, the poplar wood you are using is most likely not from a poplar tree at all. It is probably from a Tulip tree aka a Tulip poplar or from a Sycamore AKA planetree or London plane tree. Have I stirred the mud in this water enough yet??? Dale

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Really? That's interesting Dale, I appreciate very much you taking the time to educate me in this regard. The wood I am using I buy from Home Depot, it says "poplar"....maybe I misread it and it actually says "popular", lol. So tell me Dale, is the "red cedar" that builders use for lures on the east coast the same as the stuff I am using here in Oregon? The stuff here they call "western red" and it is as light as a chunk of balsa...well almost. Guys at the mill told me there is typicall only western red and then the aromatic stuff I mentioned earlier.

Jed

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The terminoligy used in the lumber industry is pretty standard across the country, so western red cedar is western red cedar . However the terms are not standard between the lumber industry and the world of horticulture. What is called western red cedar in the lumber industy is in fact a member of the arborvitae family and the botanical name for the tree is Thuja plicata. Alaskan Yellow Cedar is actually a member of the false cypress family and Eastern Red Cedar ( the aromatic stuff ) is actually a juniper. To my knowledge the are no true members of the cedar family growing in the USA. Most of the so called cedars here are called cedars because of similarities to the true cedars, which are native to the Mediteranean Sea area. I am versed in the different species of plants, but am still pretty new to this wood working bit, so if somebody else disagrees with something I have said, please jump in and correct me. Dale :D

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I was wondering how oak would work . Being a dense heavy wood it would be easy to suspend . I have never tried it , might it be to heavy once all the hardware is on. All I hear about is balsa or other featherweight woods. Unique wood =unique action .

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Harder and denser woods are supposed to have a tighter action. Still experimenting myself. I do know that if you're using screw in hardware to drill a little bigger pilot hole. Harder woods tend to split, whereas softer woods will compress. Dale

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For what it's worth I tried oak and didn't like it, somewhat difficult to shape and tough on screw eyes, actually twisted off a couple of them.

Dale,

I went to college in Idaho and while there spent much of my time in the wood chasing deer and elk. There were trees in the forest that everyone referred to as "cedar", huge things, beautiful too. At one time I knew all the scientific names for each of the trees in that country but now have a hard time remembering my own name. The trees only grew where there was a significant amount of water, their limbs hang down rather than out like a lodgepole or fir and their bark will hang in strips when disturbed. The logging outfits up there really went after them and I can remember driving by the mill and seeing acres of the them stacked up in the yard. I would guess that these are indeed western cedar.

Jed

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Just to chip in further on the subject of cedars......all over England there is species called the "Lebanon" cedar travelling Victorian plant hunters brought it back here and it became a favourite large tree for stately homes and big houses. A beautiful looking tree with big horizontal individual large branches that can break under their own weight when the tree is old,as they mostly all are here now.

I'm sure I read somewhere that in the mountains in Lebanon where they are native, now because of war and poverty they have been systematicaly cut down for fuel and have become an endangered species.

Not sure if its the same tree but when I've used cedar there is distinctive smell of pencils that reminds me of my school days,a long time ago now.

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Jed

Your lucky to have easy access to western red cedar. I wish it were more readily available around here. I drive around looking for old telephone poles that are made from cedar. As far as the hardwood goes. I tried sugar maple several times and the clearcoat kept cracking. I stick with Mahogany,cypress and cedar. Jim

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Jim,

Thanks for the info. I can get the western cedar easily but it's quite spendy I think considering the wood is so soft. I paid 16.39 for a 10' 2x4. After I had cut the sucker up I figured each of my 7" baits will cost me .96 cents. In the past I have been able to keep them at .50 or less. Seems the cost of lumber has gone up with everything else. It is nice tho to know the supply is there when I need it.

Jed

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