Wood IDs #7: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 2 of 3

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-25-2009 08:13 AM 9059 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 1 of 3 Part 7 of Wood IDs series Part 8: Found Eucalyptus tree in LA - part 3 of 3 »

In part 1, I found a Euc in an LA neighborhood, went back under cover of ninja darkness around midnight, spent 3 hours cutting it up and hauling it home in 2 trips, and detailed what I ended up with. In this part, I cut up some of the bigger logs, look under the bark a bit more, and brush away boring bug excrement to reveal some more beautiful patterning underneath.

The trails seen here are caused by Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae, several of which I found while digging under the bark, and a good shot of which can be seen halfway down the Center for Invasive Species Research’s page on the ELBs. You can see in my shot below what appears to be little bits of mud caked on. This is what remains clinging to the wood below the bark when peeled away. It’s the excrement of the ELB larvae, and is time-consuming to remove without a wire bristle brush, which is what I used to scrub (and scrub (and scrub)) the wood to remove every trace of it. I thought I was sanding down the wood, but after much work, I realized the grain patterns were swirling with the wood, and were not caused by me.

boring bug trails under the bark of a Eucalyptus tree

boring bug trails under the bark of a Eucalyptus tree

Here’s the mess the bugs leave under the bark, with their trails caked in by their own excrement, which really isn’t anything more than wood pulp. It all smells lovely, actually, just like Eucalyptus :)

Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae trails in bark

Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae trails in bark

Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae trails in bark

This is the outside of that same piece of bark, showing no signs what an awesome little world lies beneath:

Eucalyptus bark

Here’s what kind of mess you create brushing the boring bug excrement off a couple of logs, and out of all of the bug trails:

Eucalyptus Longhorned Borer larvae excrement brushed out of wood onto my shop floor

The end grain got me a little excited. I’m really interested at this point to see what comes out of this when sawn and/or turned. I love having enough tree here than I can really try everything, including quartersawing (very small planks :), wet turning, dry turning, stacking and stickering tiny planks and watching them dry (with the ends sealed), and joining jointed, small planks into larger boards for maybe some things like boxes. Also, I can really experiment with a host of finishes now, too. This is all one tree, so I can really see how everything works and finishes Eucalyptus wood with several copies of each kind of stump, log, branch, and pen blank. Neat!

pretty Eucalyptus end grain in some sectioned logs

Eucalyptus end grain

And here’s what I got after lots of scrubbing up of some pieces I cut:

bug eaten Eucalyptus logs

Eucalyptus logs!

I love this bug-bored Eucalyptus log

And now for some workability info…

I find this Euc to be wonderful to work with. It’s heavy and dense, and of course still wet, but my Irwin 15” ProTouchâ„¢ 9TPI course-cut carpenter saw chews through it in maybe 5 strokes per inch (I’ll need to empirically test that next time I cut one of these). It doesn’t take long to cut through a 5”-6” log. I also used a large, course pull saw from Home Depot to cut a smaller piece (~3” diameter) later for turning, and it went through it nicely, and left a very clean cut.

I will say this, though – it starts splitting along its ray lines at the ends almost immediately. I didn’t have any sealer when I started, but got some Rockler Green Wood End Grain Sealer a day or two later and immediately covered every cut I’d made in globs of it. Just awhile ago tonight I ordered a 2-gallon pail of Anchorseal straight from the source, as I’m starting to really find trees and large branches now. It’s become a fun hunt in this urban sprawl.

In part 3 of this 3-series promise, I will reveal something I turned with a 3” diameter chunk of one of the branches of this thing. The turning is simple – I’m very inexperienced, on a very tiny machinist mill – but the wood is gorgeous inside. More later, and thanks for reading along with my mini adventure!

There are several more pics hidden in the flickr set

Oh, and btw, a moment of silence for my little Rockler Japanese pull saw, which could not cope in the field with the enormous strains of the heavy, wet wood. It bound constantly, even on the pull stroke, and though it occasionally helped a little, even bending the limb in different ways to try to ‘open’ the cut around the blade just didn’t help. I think the wet wood swelled as I cut, pinching the blade. The blade is now quite kinked, even though it’s hard to see in this shot. It’s replaceable, but with such a little saw, it’s almost like throwing the whole thing away to put in a new blade. Ah well… it was all I had in the way of hand saws on that impetuous night of a week ago.

bent up Japanese flush-cut pull saw from Rockler

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

5 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5190 days

#1 posted 03-25-2009 03:27 PM

your blogs have quickly moved to to the top of my list of favorites. You stand among 4 or 5 other on this site that I’d truly miss if they were to stop. Thanks for taking the time!

View poopiekat's profile


5138 posts in 5196 days

#2 posted 03-26-2009 06:00 PM

Thank you Gary for the inspiration! I have harvested found logs, and once followed the Electric company around as they disfigured some beautiful American Elms, simply because some branches interfered with the wires. But I did get some hobby-length boards after re-sawing! I’ve made a few keepsake boxes out of laminated found-woods and pallet salvage and it is quite gratifying to tell people where each piece came from.
I’m hoping to get some honeysuckle and lilac this spring after pruning, maybe some alder/boxwood too. I’ve never seen either of these milled or turned before, should be interesting. I did get some imported Manzanita from a friend who raises macaws, apparently it’s the birds’ lumber of choice, and it has a cross-section similar to your eucalyptus. There’s not many exotics here, few species are hardy enough here in zone 2 (-40 degrees).

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4843 days

#3 posted 03-30-2009 08:22 AM

HokieMojo – thanks so much for the kind words! I have posted like this in other places, but felt unappreciated. This is definitely the right place for me to talk about this particular passion :)

poopiekat – that’s great! I agree that it’s so much better to have a cool story behind the wood, instead of just saying “This is red oak from Home Depot.” I would love to see what the woods of both lilac and honeysuckle look like. I didn’t think they got thick enough to be useful. Also, you live in a very cold place!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5190 days

#4 posted 03-30-2009 05:45 PM

i tried saving a small (very small) holly tree. the thickest part of the trunk I managed to get was about 5” wide. Lots of cracking though because I didn’t seal the endes. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll blog on it someday. Holly is such a pain though because I wanted to try to keep it as white as possible.

View mmh's profile


3701 posts in 5184 days

#5 posted 02-26-2010 09:38 PM

The grain looks nice and tight and the outer worm trails are so interesting, it would almost be ashame to remove them. Have you worked with this wood yet?

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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