I happen to stumbled across an inexpensive source for a wood called IPE
http://www.woodfinder.net/woods/ipe.htm and am considering making a butcher
block table top out of it. It's slightly dark for my taste, but SWMBO
really likes it for some reason. The sample I have is very hard and very
dense - it barely floats. I'm considering an end-grain top with dimensions
somewhere around 22x34x10 inches glued from 3/4 stock. I've never worked
with this stuff (IPE) before, but it seems *plenty* hard and very fine
grained - a good combination for a butcher block top. BTW, the sample I
have comes from a deck supply wholesaler.
The top alone would be heavy (around 300 lbs), which implies very stable if
the base is constructed correctly <g>. No problem, other then moving it
around when it's finished...
(1) Does anyone know what the toxicity of IPE wood is, or care to comment on
it's suitability for this application?
(2) In it's natural state, this wood feels somewhat "oily" (for lack of a
better term). Is TightBond II going to hold it together assuming it's
planed/jointed/clamped appropriately, etc., or will I need another type of
Any other experiences working with this wood appreciated, including answers
to any questions I should have asked but didn't (or didn't know to ask)
rosewood, cocobolo. One of the practices is to wipe the wood with
solvel(laquer thinner, etc) immediately before gluing up. I know this is
the method West epoxy resin recommends for teak in boat work.
The only toxicity reports seem to be that some individuals have skin
irritation from sawdust created by maching operations.
The dimensions you mention are similar to the tradition butcher block that
were in common use in the U.K. in the past. I once was asked to
re-condition one of these and found they were through bolted in both the X &
Y axes to counter act the tremendous seasonal expansion/contraction
pressure, these blocks were usually made from beech and were subject to
daily scrub down. Just a thought.
No one has mentioned this yet and you may want to give this some heavy
consideration. I work with Ipe quite often and your findings are correct.
BUT, TRY this for yourself. When Ipe is cut you end up with a brown saw
dust and a yellowy green powdery dust. This dust reacts with salt and some
mild citric acids. Basically if you get the dust on your sweaty hands the
dust will turn BLOOD RED. Using citrus based blade cleaners will also turn
this powder BLOOD RED.
Now with that in mind, many of the foods that you prepare on this surface
will probably react with the top and make the top and or some of your foods
turn BLOOD RED.
My hands are often discolored by certain woods, especially when I'm
turning for several hours at a stretch. Walnut, for example, leaves a
dark purplish stain. It doesn't wash off, but seems to go away somehow
within a day or so. I've had similar staining, though different colors,
from cocobolo, bloodwood, gaboon ebony, rosewood (d. stevensonii), and
I'm sure some others. Is this common, or is it something in my sweat?
Can it be washed off? I've tried soaps (including lava), citrus based
hand cleaner, and who knows what else. And if not, why does it disappear
so quickly, relatively speaking? A day or so doesn't seem enough time
for it to wear away.
I wouldn't use it for anything in the kitchen where you would be
preparing food. When building my deck, I had to use a really good
respirator when doing any milling/cutting operations. The yellow pollen
is nasty stuff in the lungs - I can only imagine what would happen if
you got some in your digestive tract.
Stick with maple.
well you're going to quite a bit of trouble to make a huge end grain butcher
block top. i would make a small cutting board (say 8x10x2 or so) first and
see what happens. maybe feed the stuff to your dog first to make sure its
not poisoned <g> that said, only maple is FDA approved, but just about any
wood will work as long as you keep it well oiled.
the fact that i cannot find a single instance of anyone using ipe for a
butcher block by searching the web says something also...
so in short, make a small cutting board first.
I made a very small edge-grain (about 5x7x1) board to test the glue
strength. Tightbond II seems to hold it together just fine. I haven't used
it for cutting though. Ipe kind of smells like cinnamon when sanded, which
reminded me of how distinct rosewood smells when working with it and how
toxic that stuff is, so I thought I'd "ask the experts" :-) since I couldn't
find anything myself.
well im no expert and i cant find a single thing about using ipe as a
butcher block :(
is it just me or have the days of searching and actually finding useful
information in the internet over? it seemed there was a golden year or two
where you could find stuff until the 'business models' kicked in and the
search engines are now just glorified advertising agencies.
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