6 years ago#1
bluegreen
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I was going to use ebony wood for a sculpture but I hear its rare and endangered. What would be a good substitute? Is it really endangered?

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6 years ago#2
Man In Black
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Probably, but wood is a crop. It can be grown and tropical woods are good candidates.

Tropical hardwoods grow incredibly fast and are one of the few resources in some very poor parts of the world. The problem is overharvesting, generally poor reforestation. They get used for building houses, crates and such, because shipping pine/fir is too expensive and it rots promptly anyway.

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6 years ago#3
stick5324
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What do you mean by 'what would be a good substitute'? A good substitute in what way?

I'm not sure if ebony is endangered or not, but it is **** hard to carve.

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6 years ago#4
Arlo Tol
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I would use walnut, then 'ebonize' it. There are various methods, I like the easiest- aniline dye. An oil finish followed by black shoe polish gives a nice sheen.

This would definitely save time and money.

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6 years ago#5
JasicaCHINA
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Something small and ornate, maybe even like a paper opener or else maybe a small object as one in a series of small objects. Yes I was afraid you would say walnut which is fine but lacks the texture of ebony. Pete

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6 years ago#6
bluegreen
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Well, I missed the start of the thread. So, I waited till you responded again. Yep. Walnut doesn't have the same texture. If you look for some that is in a 'crotch', some of that 'reaction wood' can be very tight texture. But nothing I have compares with true ebony.

I'll suggest two other woods. Persimmon is called 'American Ebony' but is not as black. Secondly, Texas Ebony grows in south Texas and is a true ebony.

Other wood that are nice for colorizing is Hickory (you can find some that has almost no grain).

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6 years ago#7
nfdouglas
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Peter, I'm afraid ebony is endangered. The fellow who went on about 'wood is a crop' and 'tropical hardwoods grow incredibly fast' is tragically misinformed.

The most beautiful hardwoods grow incredibly SLOW (100 years or more to get a tree to harvestable size) and most wood that is harvested is done with little regards to replanting.

For example, Cocus Wood (Brya ebenus) is considered commercially extinct. Brazillian Rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) is being considered for CITES protection (that's the same international agreement that restricts trade in elephant ivory). So is Lignum Vitae (a Guiaicun spp.) Good quality African Ebony (a variety of Diospyros spp.) is getting very hard to find. And Grenadilla (Dalbergia melanoxylon, African Blackwood, M'pinga, the 'wood of music' is also in quite a bit of danger. People are calling for restrictions on trade in it.

Interestingly enough, it's often not overharvesting of the hardwoods that endangers them, but slash and burn clearing of nearby lands for other purposes. Grenadilla, for example, lives in such a fragile balance with the great heat and scarce water of its environment, that the heat of a forset fire miles away will crack the wood.

It's not just the tropicla woods, it's a worldwide problem. In the US, desert ironwood (A Carpinus or Cercocarpus spp. I can't remember which) is restricted, driven nearly extinct by people carving it for the souvineer trade. In Europe, real, musical instrument grade Boxwood (Buxus spp.) gets harder to find each year. This wood not only takes 100+ years to grow, but it tahes 30-50 years to dry properly after harvesting in preparation for instrument making.

Here's a few of my favorite non-endangered hardwoods:

Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) US grown, rich yellow color, rosewood hardness.

Tornillo Mesquite (Proscopis pubescens) US grown, color varies from pink to brown with streaks like rosewood.

Pau Fero (Machaerium spp.) aka. Morado, Bolivian Rosewood (it is not a true rosewood of Dalbergia spp.) Tropical, wide range, grown at many Good Wood Alliance managed plantations.

Maracaibo Boxwood (Gossypiospermum praecox) Tropical, wide range, also availaible from managed sources. Not a perfect substitute for real European boxwood, but a creamy white, hard wood that is a satisfying experience to carve or turn.

And there are manager Dalbergia species. Tulipwood, Kingwood, and some Honduras Rosewood come from mamaged sources.

The Certified Forest Products Council (formerly the 'Good Wood Alliance' has much more information on where to get wood with good Karma.

<http://www.certifiedwood.org/>

While you're there, check out the pictures of the Gibson guitars made from certified woods! Even Home Depot has pledged to get their lumber from certified sources.

Also have a look at SmartWood. You'll find their stamp on everything from raw wood to furniture and kitchen cabinetry.

<http://www.smartwood.org/>

For sculpting and woodworking quantities of wood, I can recommend Ecotimber International as a source of certified US woods. They're fun; they have all sorts of tropical woods that I've never heard of before.

<http://www.ecotimber.com>

Well, that's Joe's rant for the day.

Joseph S. Wisniewski - Make flutes, not war!

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6 years ago#8
camellia
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Thanks for going to the trouble to post all that info. I was feeling negligent for not getting it posted. I fully agree with your statements regarding wood not being a 'crop'.

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6 years ago#9
Rayven
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To be fair to the poster who said that wood is a crop... he is partially right. In many (most?) developed countries, wood is treated as a crop. Forestry management is a goal - if not a practice. Unfortunately this is not the case in the third world. (They have more pressing needs.)

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6 years ago#10
Chant Dhames
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To be fair to the poster who said that wood is a crop... he is partially right. In many (most?) developed countries, wood is treated as a crop. Forestry management is a goal - if not a practice. Unfortunately this is not the case in the third world. (They have more pressing needs.)

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6 years ago#11
Orion_O'RYAN
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[Thanks for this information, Joseph. While I'm sure none of us wants to contribute to the disappearance of already endangered species of wood, there are some tough questions this raises that might bear discussion.

For instance: isn't it true that the major cause of deforestation isn't logging but clearance of land for pasture and agriculture? What I've heard is that valuable and unknown species alike are cut and burned to provide some short-term fertility for chronically poor soils, allowing a few crops to be grown before the land is abandoned and the farmers move on to another patch of forest. Whereas, if the land had been selectively logged on a rotating basis, it could provide sustenance indefinitely?

Is the intent to diminish demand for tropical hardwood species to the point it is uneconomical to harvest them? Is this going to preserve forest, or contribute to its more rapid demise? It seems like there was some debate raging on this topic a few years back, and after taking a hard look at the alternatives the consensus was against a ban on tropical timber.

While the tragic loss of tropical rainforest proceeds, one wants to do what one can to prevent it, but is devaluing the most valuable products of the forest the way to accomplish this goal? One might think that if people came to think of their forests as a potential source of long-term revenue, they might treat them with more respect. I think the Good Wood people are on the right track here.

Andrew Werby

UNITED ARTWORKS- Sculpture, Jewelry, and other art stuff http://unitedartworks.com http://www.computersculpture.com for 3d design tools

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