Lignum Vitae Top

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Project by Andy posted 05-13-2016 12:32 AM 1225 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This top is made from one of the hardest woods in the world, Lignum Vitae with a janka hardness of 4,390 lbs. It is such an amazing wood to turn, let me tell you why.

First off, there is no finish on this top, it is bare polished wood. This wood is so waxy/oily there is really no need to finish. It is a very smooth and easy cutting wood too. Because of its density you cant take a big bite out of it but I went straight from the tool to 400 grit sandpaper and because the surface was left so smooth from the tool it was alot rougher after being sanded. But this did smooth down any minute ridges. I then just polished with steel wool with the lathe turned up high until it had this nice sheen to it.

If you are a wood turner and youve never turned genuine Lignum Vitae, Do It! It is the hardest wood Ive ever turned and takes a little more time but even so, it is by far my favorite wood to turn.

Thanjs for viewing, Andy.

-- Andy Smith

5 comments so far

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

515 posts in 3385 days

#1 posted 05-13-2016 02:33 AM

interesting assessment. Never heard of it or seen it but would love to get my hands on some of it.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4119 days

#2 posted 05-13-2016 10:49 AM

Very cool! I would love to try turning some of this.

BTW, NEVER use steel wool on a spinning piece!!! If it catches it could easily break your fingers by twisting them or just as bad cut a finger off – I’ve seen it happen. NO cloth and NO Steel Wool ever. Paper towels only. Your fingers aren’t worth the risk.

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

549 posts in 4567 days

#3 posted 05-13-2016 12:44 PM

Great advice Robert. I have a friend who refuses to heed that advice and I have seen steel wool yanked out of his hand more than once. I hope his luck, and it is just luck, continues to hold out.

Excellent top Andy. LV also sinks in water. It is so hard it was used as bearings on ships in earlier times.

-- jstegall

View Andy's profile


240 posts in 1877 days

#4 posted 05-13-2016 01:24 PM

I appreciate the safety tips. I do always use a very small piece of steel wool when I use it. But you are right about it and it should avoided. I put my steel wool on the end of a piece of dowel rod alot to so then my fingers are nowhere near where the steel wool can grab them.

-- Andy Smith

View Gary's profile


1476 posts in 5374 days

#5 posted 05-13-2016 11:09 PM

One beautiful top! Well done!

-- Gary, Florida

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