Ironwood

I've just lucked (?) into a few small turning blocks of ironwood from Arizona. I'm wondering if there is anything special I need to know before putting them on the lathe. I was advised that there will be no shavings, only dust, and that the dust is toxic enough to warrant wearing a breathing mask.
I assume I will have to sharpen more often,
Is all this so, in your extensive experiences? What else? What about finishing? I have heard that it just needs to be sanded with progressively higher and higher grits, and then burnished without a finish. Yes?
(cross posted to woodworking and woodturning)
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GeorgeMS wrote:

It depends on what the "ironwood" is. "Ironwood" is a term applied to numerous species of trees; that species/genera varies depending upon where you are in the world. Basically, it is whatever local wood is very hard.
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dadiOH
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Here in western Wisconsin, it is Hop Hornbeam, or Lignum Vitae (sp?). All I know about it is that it sinks if you throw it in the water and the tree "bleeds" red when you saw off a limb.
Why not just chuck up a piece and let 'er rip? Maybe try carving on the edges to get a clue as to how it will handle in the lathe?
If you have any luck with it, I have one that could just as well come down and I might give it a try.
Let us know, Pete Stanaitis -------------------
dadiOH wrote:

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Totally different wood, Pete..
LV (as I know it) is a reddish brown wood that turns green in sunlight, that used to be used for things like shaft bushings in boats because it was so hard..
Desert Ironwood is a dark brown to black wood that has light brown and gold streaks in the grain..
mac
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Mike McDonald
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LMAO!!!
Isn't that the truth!
Robert
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Since he said that the wood is from AZ, I'd have to think that it was "desert ironwood"..
mac
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mac davis wrote:

Uhhh...which one? From http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/ironwood,%20desert.htm
"That being said, I believe it is also true that "desert ironwood" is a generic term used in the Southwest of the United States to (incorrectly) denote a number of different species that have an extremely hard, dense wood and that are used by local craftspeople to make small items such as jewlery, knife handles, and so forth."
He goes on to say...
"True desert ironwood, Olneya tesotais, is almost unbelievably hard for a wood. It is brittle and cracks easily and that combined with the very small size of the tree all mitigate strongly against any veneer production from the species. It will not float, is VERY hard to work with hand tools (pretty much impossible) but takes a fabulous finish when worked carefully and slowly with very sharp power tools."
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Yep, thanks... They call it "OT" here, I was wondering what the hell that meant.. lol
I believe the SLOWLY part... My first try on a piece of burl was with a Dewalt "nail cutter" blade in the recip. saw.. that blade lasted about 5 minutes so I slowed the saw down and the next blade went the rest of the way through the cut, about 2 more inches in a 4" wide piece..
Once I get it manageable for the bandsaw, it's not bad at all except for the dust all over the house and the unusual smell..
mac
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