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Project by OutPutter posted 02-03-2010 08:33 AM 3592 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is a simple bible box I made for a friend from work. He was a consultant from Brazil. We spent a lot of time working together during the project we worked on and we exchanged a lot of information about our respective countries. I asked him about wood since his country is one huge rain forest full of the finest woods on earth. He shared that he had heard one of the native woods of Brazil was the hardest wood in the world. I had never heard of the wood he mentioned, Pau Santo, so I did a little research. I was able to find a distributor with some of the wood in stock and it was beautiful. I decided to purchase three boards.

The three boards arrived a little later and I couldn’t believe what I had. This wood is about as dense as steel. I knew I wanted to make a bible box out of it and decided that a good person for this project was my consultant. The board was almost 1” thick so I knew I would have to resaw it to make it into a usable thickness. I made one crosscut with my sled and didn’t have any trouble except, I had to go at a snail’s pace. My little Craftsman table saw was really put to the test. Being a relative newby to hard woods and table saws, I decided to use the table saw for resawing the top and bottom you see in the picture. I made the sides out of a reclaimed pallet wood with spalting.

I set up the tall fence for my saw and took all the other safety precautions I could think of. Unfortunately, this didn’t include parking the car in the street. I guess I was lucky to have the table saw aimed out of the garage and not at a wall because the ricochet could have killed someone. Let’s face it, if anyone had been in the line of fire, they could have been killed. Well, to make a long story short, the first pass went slow but ok. The second pass was more difficult and when the wood finally gave into the internal stresses and grabbed the saw blade, the result was instantaneous. One second I was holding the wood and the next it was bouncing off the windshield of my wife’s car. No damage to the wood at all though. I picked it up and couldn’t even find a scratch on it. I used my hand saw to finish the cut.

So, I was able to finish the box and present it to my friend (minus the story). He very much appreciated the gift because of the unique materials involved. If anyone has more information about this unique wood, please feel free to share it here.

-- Jim

12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4740 days

#1 posted 02-03-2010 08:34 AM

Nice bible box looks good


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


21696 posts in 4839 days

#2 posted 02-03-2010 09:12 AM

Quite a story!! Glad you were out of the line of fire. Were you resawing with your blade at full hieght on the first pass?

Nicle looking box. Question about what a Bible box is. Is it suppose to be for an actual Bible? Does the name have other origins? Just curious because it looks a little small and deep to hold one.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Gary's profile


9419 posts in 4596 days

#3 posted 02-03-2010 09:35 AM

Man, if that had been my wife’s car, I wouldn’t be out of the hospital yet…

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 4608 days

#4 posted 02-03-2010 01:32 PM

Very nice box & story. As Gary said I’d still be in the hospital.

View Skylark53's profile


2865 posts in 4223 days

#5 posted 02-03-2010 03:31 PM

Beautiful wood and a great story. The Bible box is a very thoughtful gift and you do a nice job making them.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4237 days

#6 posted 02-03-2010 03:46 PM

Interesting story, interesting wood and nice box.

I’m most curious about this wood. I’ve already googled it and there is very little information there. It sounds like ipe which also comes from Brazil. I noted the statement that over time it will turn gray with a slight greenish tint. Ipe does that also and ipe is also very hard and very dense. Pau Santo does not look exactly like ipe but they could be cousins.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5153 days

#7 posted 02-03-2010 04:24 PM

Thanks for the comments folks. Topamax, yes, I actually put a bible in the box before I give it away. The term bible box has been applied to other boxes in the past but it didn’t necessarily mean there was a bible involved. richgreer, I think I’ve seen the comment you’re refering to in my research also. It’s not accurate in the case of my Pau Santo though. I don’t see anything close to greenish and there’s no way it’s ever going to be gray. I’ve got Ipe in my stock and the too are very different in terms of grain and structure. The Pau Santo is as smooth as glass just from cutting with a table saw, no special blade involved. The only reason I sanded the box was to remove the leftover ridge from finishing the cut with my handsaw.

-- Jim

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5381 days

#8 posted 02-03-2010 04:57 PM

I’m with Gary… my wife would still be whacking me with what was left of that board!

Jim, how deep were you cutting when that happened? I have used my table saw to resaw boards, but I won’t go deeper than about 1.75 inches, which means the maximum width board I will resaw is about 3.5 inches. Any deeper than that just feels too dangerous.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5153 days

#9 posted 02-03-2010 09:19 PM

I think that board is about 5” so I may have had the saw set at 3”. At the time I made the cut, it didn’t feel too risky. The first pass was fine but the wood just started to relieve those internal stresses and shooop, it was gone. I think the reason I didn’t get a beating on top of everything was my wife was in the shop watching me make the cut and we were both so relieved nothing really bad happened, we didn’t think about reinforcing the lesson. ;-0

-- Jim

View norwood's profile


303 posts in 4233 days

#10 posted 02-04-2010 06:09 AM

if you decide to cut the rest you should where a cup good luck and nice bible box

-- of all the things Ive lost in life i miss my mind the most

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5153 days

#11 posted 02-04-2010 06:54 AM

Thanks for the advice norwood but I’m gun shy now and I don’t think I’ll be resawing this wood again. For the record, I snapped a couple of pictures of the remaining boards.
Pau Pic 1
This shows the color but it’s not as dark as real life. I can’t get the lighting right to capture the wood as it really looks. Just imagine a darker shade or two and no grey shadow spots. The board on the right is the one I took the box top and bottom from. You can see the sap wood streak down the side just like the box.
Pau Pic Plus Incra Ruler
This shot shows my handy dandy Incra ruler across the width and if you zoom in real close maybe you can see it’s just a little over 5”. You may also see the vendor’s tag – Rare Earth Hardwoods – one of the best online sellers I’ve used over the years.

Thanks again for reading,

-- Jim

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4975 days

#12 posted 06-07-2010 09:47 AM

Nice box and wood.

-- Jiri

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