Does anyone have experience working with ironwood? I have a client that
has requested its use in the construction of his bed, and I have no
experience at all with it. Looking around online I found that its from
Hawaii and very dense, and supposedly hard on tools as a result, but
was hoping for someone who could confirm or deny that from first hand
Ironwood is also known as Ipe or Pau Lope.
It has some interesting qualities.
One of the major woodworking mags ran an article entitled "Ipe, Wood or
within the last few months.
If you like, I can locate the article for you once I get home from
I've had experience with Pau Lope (also called Ipe). It's called ironwood
for good reason. It's dense, heavy stuff. IIRC if you've ever been on the
boardwalk in Atlantic City, it is made of Pau Lope because it never rots.
It's devastating to carbide. I chose to buy a bunch of cheap disposable
blades as opposed to dulling expensive ones.. Predrill for screws, or
they'll just snap off. It'd be quite extreme for use as a bed. Charge
I plunge cut hundreds of 1.5" long slots 3/8" deep and wide in Ipe and have
had better luck with a 4 flute HSS end mill bit than with a carbide bit. I
also resaw and make hundreds of cut into Ipe with a Forrest WWII blade. I
would say that Ipe is tough on carbide but certainly would not say that it
is devastating to carbide unless the carbide is a cheaper grade that Forrest
Man, i put an indoor deck around a exercise pool coupla years ago out of
Ipe. The stuff seemed to dull the freud blades i bought for the TS and MS
almost to the point of needing sharpened before lunchtime the first day!
After that i bought the cheapest blades money could buy just to keep the
project moving along. In retrospect, it may have been wiser to invest in
better quality blades. Thanks for the insight! --dave
There are a dozen woods called ironwood, from hop hornbeam to lignum vitae.
I hadn't heard ipe calle ironwood, but okay... Some are not commercially
I can't think of any reason to use such a wood for a bed. They are all a
bear to work; so I suggest you get your client to better identify the wood,
and charge accordingly.
Tell him to pick one. So far he has simply told you that he wants a bed
built with a very hard, hard wood.
One of the most common Iron woods is Ipe. Ipe is a very common decking
material. I pay about $20 for a rough cut 1"x 6" x 8'. Keep in mind that
Ipe is 3 times harder than Oak. And, yes iron wood is hard on your tools.
You want sharp carbide tools to work it.
On 24 Jan 2005 09:21:25 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
First, what do you mean 'iron wood'? The name is applied to a number
of different species, generally whatever local wood is hardest and
Around here it means 'desert ironwood' -- a small tree with a dark,
highly figured heartwood. Pretty but it doesn't come in large pieces,
is difficult to work, dulls tools and the dust is toxic.
"Sometimes history doesn't repeat itself. It just yells
'can't you remember anything I've told you?' and lets
fly with a club.
-- John W. Cambell Jr.
There is a huge variation in the appearance of woods called Ironwood.
I've worked both Hophornbeam and Ipe, and they are, IMO, not as
difficult as some others have implied. They are hard and heavy, but
sharp tools will handle them nicely. Ipe dust gave me the sniffles.
You can do it if you want to work with Ipe, because it is commonly available
as decking everywhere. Sold priced in linear feet. Super strong wood, I can get
it at $2.70. Steve Knight makes handplanes with it.
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