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Bog-wood?

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Project by Thefarmer posted 11-05-2021 09:30 AM 1268 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ever worked with bog-wood? Please continue reading to find out my thoughts.

I’ve got a commission to make a knife, including a leather sheath to go with it. The client asked if I would mind using a piece of Swedish bog-wood for the handle that he had treated with PEG (polyethylene glycol) for more than 30 years. This is the same treatment technique, by the way, that the 16th Century ship HMS Mary Rose, England (1510–1545) and The Swedish Vasa Ship (1626–1628), both museums today, used.

First of all, for all of you who doesn’t know what bog-wood is – or perhaps you all do? – bog-wood is generally trees or wood that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay by the acidic and anaerobic bog conditions, sometimes for hundreds or even thousands of years.
However, Swedish bog-wood is almost always found in old shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea. These wrecks of mainly old naval ships managed to stay relatively intact because the shipworm (yes, a mollusc), which usually eats up everything, does not like the Baltic sea’s low salt levels. Hence we have a lot of wrecks around our coasts! Experts say that there is probably more than 100.000 wrecks out there! So far, 20.000 have been found and registered – many from the 16th-17th Century.

Enough history. Back to my project.
I was familiar with bog-wood before this project. I even have a piece from one wreck – ‘Kronan’ (sunk 1676). However, I have never worked with the material before, and especially never with PEG-treated wood.

Perhaps I am not as good at woodwork as I thought. Or maybe I can blame it on the lack of appropriate tools. (Yes, that is what I am going to do). Nevertheless, it was hard work! I mean, oak is a relatively hard wood to start with, but the added treatment with PEG made it even more challenging. As an example, I used an angle grinder when a typical sanding machine didn’t work!

Bog-wood is usually very dark, almost black. In Sweden, it is called ‘svart-ek’, which translates to black oak, just for this reason.
The pieces I was given to work with were quite small, giving me very little room for manoeuvre. And as you can see in the photos, only part of one of the pieces I got to work with was black-ish.
Even if it doesn’t look like it, the whole handle is made from bog-wood. But I use the small dark/black segment at the top of the knife.
The smell was horrible when cutting, shaping, and sanding the pieces to make them into knife scales. So in the future, I have to say; thanks, but no thanks, if someone offers me to work with this treated wood.

Photos show scales before assembly, finished knife with leather sheath and a previous knife I did with ordinary oak with wenge and walnut as decorative pieces.

Maybe you have a more enjoyable experience than me, working in bog-wood?

All the best, The Farmer.

-- The Farmer, Sweden





13 comments so far

View bugradx2's profile

bugradx2

396 posts in 1353 days


#1 posted 11-05-2021 02:05 PM

nice job!

-- The only thing not measured in my shop is time

View Andre's profile

Andre

5001 posts in 3139 days


#2 posted 11-05-2021 03:28 PM

Nice little knife, wondering why the grain pattern is so different from the end grain blanks pic?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1633 posts in 1237 days


#3 posted 11-05-2021 03:42 PM

What info do you have showing the long-term human effects of handling PEG treated wood? This is a knife handle, not a museum display like a ship frame.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Thefarmer's profile

Thefarmer

25 posts in 88 days


#4 posted 11-05-2021 06:53 PM

Thanks, Bugradx2.

And thanks Andre. Yes, I wondered about that grain pattern myself.

-- The Farmer, Sweden

View Thefarmer's profile

Thefarmer

25 posts in 88 days


#5 posted 11-05-2021 06:54 PM

Phil32, good question. I cannot really tell you.

-- The Farmer, Sweden

View AJ1104's profile

AJ1104

1448 posts in 2993 days


#6 posted 11-06-2021 12:48 AM

Nice knife Farmer! Beautiful job w the bog wood and equally amazing sheath. To bad about the stink or perhaps I would give it a try.

-- AJ

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

5008 posts in 4442 days


#7 posted 11-06-2021 01:42 AM


What info do you have showing the long-term human effects of handling PEG treated wood? This is a knife handle, not a museum display like a ship frame.

- Phil32


Nice scales!

Polyethylene Glycol is not poisonous like ethylene glycol (“regular” antifreeze). It’s used in the aviation industry to deice airplanes without killing wildlife. I wouldn’t expect long-term effects. Some of the effects listed are from drinking a gallon of the stuff before a colonoscopy. >.<

https://www.google.com/search?q=polyethylene+glycol+side+effects&rlz=1C1CHZN_enUS973US973&oq=Polyethylene+Glycol+&aqs=chrome.5.0i271j0i433i512j0i131i433i512j69i57j0i512l4j0i433i512j0i512.4298j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

ETA- do you know what era the wood is from? Slow growth timber can be really hard, so if it grew during the Middle Ages when there was a long time of colder weather, that could be a contributing factor.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View swirt's profile

swirt

7092 posts in 4305 days


#8 posted 11-06-2021 02:08 AM

Came out great. Sorry to hear the smell was no fun.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

9383 posts in 1908 days


#9 posted 11-06-2021 08:31 AM

Cool knife, and a great side story about the wood, the area, and some science. Thanks for posting.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Thefarmer's profile

Thefarmer

25 posts in 88 days


#10 posted 11-06-2021 09:13 AM

Thanks, AJ.
Yes, not more stink thank you. The wood is probably from the 16th Century. But I cannot know for certain. All I know is that the Swedish fleet had to use old trees to make their ships.

-- The Farmer, Sweden

View Thefarmer's profile

Thefarmer

25 posts in 88 days


#11 posted 11-06-2021 09:15 AM



Cool knife, and a great side story about the wood, the area, and some science. Thanks for posting.

- therealSteveN

Thank you!

-- The Farmer, Sweden

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27241 posts in 4439 days


#12 posted 11-07-2021 02:17 AM

Nice work on the knife and a good history lesson on old bog wood….................Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Thefarmer's profile

Thefarmer

25 posts in 88 days


#13 posted 11-07-2021 06:28 AM



Nice work on the knife and a good history lesson on old bog wood….................Cheers, Jim

- Jim Jakosh

Thank you, Jim.
Really like your work as well.

-- The Farmer, Sweden

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