Lignum vitae blanks for hand planes

A local lumber yard has several 4" by 6-8" by 18-24" lignum blanks which it claims are "50 year old navy surplus." Apparently the navy used to machine these into propeller bearings. Anyway, each blank weighs 15-20 pounds, is covered in a thick wax-like substance, and is face-centered (meaning the center of the tree runs right down the middle of the blank). I'm an avid hand plane maker and have used lignum vitae for soles and have even made a 3/4" shoulder plane out of lignum.
My question is -- can one of these blanks be used to make an entire hand plane out of lignum? In particular, (1) is the wood dry and stable after curing for 50 years underneath the wax coating? I've never dealt with wet lignum, but I can tell you that even dry lignum is very reactive. After almost every cut, you have to resquare the wood because it moves so much. (2) Other than the problem of grain orientation of the plane bottom, is there anything about a face-centered blank that I should be concerned about?
Robert
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IMHO if the entire blank has indeed been covered in the wax for 50 years, It is still as wet or dry as when it was sealed.
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Don't you think anyone would've dried them before waxing them? I do! Point of the wax is to keep water "out".
Alex
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wrote:

No, waxing of green blanks or semi-green blanks is quite common when dealing with exotic timbers, especially those that are slow to dry or prone to problems. Take a look at a woodturning supplier some time.
Wax is somewhat permeable. After 50 years, you ought to find they're pretty much at equilibrium moisture content.
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Smert' spamionam

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wrote:

It may have been there to slow the drying, letting the wood stabilize without checking. The wax isn't going to stop moisture migration entirely.
Rodney Myrvaagnes J36 Gjo/a
"We have achieved the inversion of the single note." __ Peter Ustinov as Karlheinz Stckhausen
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IMHO the wax is all natural, it'a residue of sap that has dryed.
Claude

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+ + + No. It isn't. PvR
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On 3 Aug 2004 15:45:44 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Robert) wrote:

razee jack with a LV body (beech tote and wedge) that has stayed true. It is made from the center of the log. I wouldn't have the guts to try such a thing, but it apparently worked.
I also have a boat-shaped smooth plane, stamped "Crocker" that is also made on the center, but it has cracked on the side of the opening.
It does look as if the pith is not a problem with LV anyway. I don't see any reason not to try it.
If it isn't stable after 50 years it never will be.
Rodney Myrvaagnes J36 Gjo/a
"We have achieved the inversion of the single note." __ Peter Ustinov as Karlheinz Stckhausen
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you usually don't want the center in your woodworking as it is pretty unstable. but once LV is dry it stays put. I found when I used it for soles I had to cut it and leave it for a couple weeks atleast before I used it. this was stuff that sat around for a long time. it's hard to tell when it is really dry.
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Knight-Toolworks & Custom Planes
Custom made wooden planes at reasonable prices
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On Wed, 04 Aug 2004 05:30:31 GMT, Steve Knight

These are face-centred blanks, not boxed heart. They don't _include_ the central pith, they're just tangential slices but where a radius would pass through the cente of the board's face. I understand that this is important for good wearing properties when used as propellor shaft bearings.
In some forms of woodworking (such as timber framing) you might actually prefer to box the heart, because it keeps the movement as twisting (which you can cope with) rather than cupping (which is harder).
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Smert' spamionam

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wrote:

Actuallu, these blanks are what you are referring to "boxed heart". The center of the tree runs down the middle of the long axis of the blank, so central pith is included.
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Well, I think I'll buy one of these and give it a try. The lumber yard only has six or seven of left (out of a pallet of 40) and I don't think I'll run accross another chance like this. They're not cheap -- about $100 each ($7 per pound). What I'll do is take off the wax, split it down the middle to get two 4 by 4 blanks and then let them equilibriate for a couple months or so. Then I'll make a jack and smoother. I'm working on a set-up to machine the mouth with a cross-vise and end mill in my drill press -- I don't know if it's going to work but I'd love to be able to make a solid plane without glue lines -- and I'm not good enough with a chisel -- yet.
Robert
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Careful about splitting: could be horrible with interlocked grain. Check first. Sawing won't be that easy but should be doable PvR

think I'll run accross another chance like this. They're not cheap -- about $100 each ($7 per pound). What I'll do is take off the wax, split it down the middle to get two 4 by 4 blanks and then let them equilibriate for a couple months or so. Then I'll make a jack and smoother. I'm working on a set-up to machine the mouth with a cross-vise and end mill in my drill press -- I don't know if it's going to work but I'd love to be able to make a solid plane without glue lines -- and I'm not good enough with a chisel -- yet.

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By splitting I meant cutting it in half with a band saw or table saw.
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On 6 Aug 2004 00:02:43 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Robert) wrote:

Robert-
you might want to do a search of the google archives: <http://groups.google.com/groups?as_q=drill%20press%20as%20mill&safe=images&ie=UTF-8&as_ugroup=rec.woodworking&lr=&hl=en <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&q=drill+press+as+mill&btnG=Search&meta=group%3Drec.crafts.metalworking for information about using your drill press as a mill. what you're likely to find is that the chances of having it work without ruining your expensve chunk of wood are slim.
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speaking of LV soles just look at this plane, eBay: 4315524984 << I'd love to have that!
Alex
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I would be interested in one of these blocks from the lumber yard. Could you send me there phone number? Thanks Jack
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Robert) wrote in message

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (jack) wrote in message

Handloggers in Richmond, CA (just north of Berkeley, CA) has them. You can check them out at www.handloggers.com. In general, they are a great lumber yard -- helpful people and a big selection. I believe they are mentioned on the woodworking school at the College of Redwooods website as onee of their sources for lumber.
PALS (Plywood and Lumber Sales) in Oakland, CA is another good place for lumber. They don't quite have the selection of hardwoods that Handloggers has but their prices are great. They also have a huge selection of hardwood plywoods.
While I'm on the subject of lumber yards -- there's a place in Berkeley called MacBeath Hardwords that carries lignum vitae (although nothing bigger than 2" by 2"). I've never been to a place with more arrogant and unhelpful staff or with prices that are more outrageous. They are very well know in the bay area and it's too bad because the place is really miserable. I recommend avoiding them as much as possible.
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