Goncalo Alves info?

I bought a beautiful piece today to use as a box lid. It has streaks of black and beige against a brown background. I will need to glue three 4" pieces together. (The rest of the box will be an extremely dark walnut)
I read everything on the web about it, and am thoroughly confused. If anyone has actually used this wood I would appreciate some advice.
1) One website says it is easily worked. Another says it chews up carbide. Any problem planing it after the glue up? 2) One site says it glues well. Another says it glues poorly, even if you wipe with solvent first. Huh? 3) One site says it darkens over time to a uniform dark brown; the others stress how beautiful the various colors are. Does it darken? Anyway to stop it, if it does? 4) One site says it sands to a glass like finish. Another says it cannot be sanded, but must be scraped.
Almost seems like two different woods have the same name.
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Make sure it's well dried first, as it's prone to irregular warping. I'd want it a few years old before I used it for cabinetry. I'd certainly not use one of those wax-dipped partially-dried turning billets immediately.

The grain is interlocked, so hand planing needs care. It seems to work well enough though.

Are they talking about turning or bench work ? "Sanding" can mean "doesn't plane easily" or it might mean "hard work, but you can let the lathe do it".
In my limited experience of it. it was a very dense wood, so hardly easy going, but it wasn't especially troublesome.

Lots of those exotics can _be_ like two different woods. Take different billets, or even two ends of the same one, and you might barely recognise it.
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Wed, 03 Nov 2004 18:12:15 +0000, Andy Dingley

What he said. Very hard, very dense. Leaves a lovely shiny surface when carved. Somewhat hard on tools. I'd want my plane as sharp as I can get it.
--RC
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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happen? Can it be prevented?
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the darker streaks.
I have a piece on my desk I've been working (the operative word with GA!) on carving into a spoon for a couple of years now. Still attractive after all that time.
--RC That which does not kill us makes us stronger. --Friedrich Nietzsche Never get your philosophy from some guy who ended up in the looney bin. -- Wiz Zumwalt
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I recently made a table top out of Goncalo Avles (the table has a honduran mahogany base). I found it difficult to hand plane because of the interlocked grain. I had to hand plane a couple of boards flat because they were too wide for the jointer and had a hard time doing it without tear out. A 60 degree wooden plane worked but that thing is hard to push. Once flat I ran it through my dewalt 755 planer, scraped the planer lines and then sanded with 320. It was relatively easy to scrape and sand. The wood is very hard but also very brittle -- watch out for tearout and chips on edges and corners.
It will hold with glue but I suggest wiping down with laquer thinner or acetone. I did not and the glue joints were somewhat weak based on my tests of the ends of table that I cut off.
As for darkening, I don't have any long term experience with Goncalo Alves but the pieces from the lumber yard were much lighter after planing. My guess is that it will gradually darken but will not loose the basic dark/light wood contrast.
I finished the top with a "sealer" coat of de-waxed shellac and two coats of polyurethane varnish. I strongly suggest a sealer coat. I tried varnish directly without the sealer on a sample piece and it was not dry after 3 days. The oils in the wood can prevent some finished from properly curing. Shellac does not have this problem although be sure to use de-waxed shellac if you will put varnish over it.
Robert
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I bought some with plans to use it for portions of shooting boards and the bottoms of wooden planes. Its so beautiful, I thought I would try inlaying some of it into a maple box. Ron Hock sells a wooden plane kit that uses Goncalo Alves as the sole plate. I built one of the kits and have been using the plane for several months. My limited observation: no problem drilling, sanding, gluing and trimming it with a hand plane. Its a tough wood. Otherwise, I'm sure that Ron would not have used it as the sole plate. In use on the plane, its developed a shiny glass-like patena and makes a very slick plane bottom.
Bob
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Sounds much like the goncalo alves that I used. Beautiful brown, black, and yellow streaks in the wood. I used wenge as the accent. Here's a pic: http://home.earthlink.net/~nateperkins1/Woodworking/projects/dadwbox.htm

It seemed pretty hard, but it machined very well. I don't recall any particular problems with handplaning, although I didn't do too much handplaning on that piece. I did a fair amount of scraping and that was no problem with a sharp scraper.

The stuff I used was very oily. This was my first experience gluing up oily woods, so I tested a few variations. I found that as long as you wipe the joints with acetone to remove the surface oils prior to gluing, then either PVA (Titebond) or polyurethane (Gorilla) glues would work fine. But I found that without the acetone wipe, the joint was extremely weak regardless of the glue used.

I don't know. This one hasn't changed color appreciably yet. It's five months old.

Sands or scrapes very well.

Might be, I don't know about that.
Good luck with the project. Goncalo's a nice wood and I'd like to find more of it sometime.
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My wood is rather different.
http://www.frontiernet.net/~toller/GA.JPG
I think it will some figure when I clean it up.
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Hi Toller,
Your board looks very similar to what my boards looked like prior to planing, sanding, and finishing -- except with a little more figure.
Good luck with the project!
Nate
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