First time with Snakewood and the Lessons learned

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Project by Hacksaw007 posted 06-23-2011 08:39 PM 5679 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, I have not posted for a long time, just been busy I guess. This is my first experience with the Exotic wood Snakewood.

This wood is so very hard, which has its pros and certainly it cons. The hairstick was fun to turn, but I had to make sure my tools were sharp, and that I mentally was ready to turn it. You have to pay attention to working with this wood. Reading all that I could about this wood, I guess that I was very lucky in my purchase in that it had only a small amount of wood checks, in it, and I cut around the worst of them. So I laid out my cutting plan in ink on the block before cutting.

In cutting that piece of wood into useable blanks for my two projects, the bandsaw would not cut in a straight line, you had to fight it to go where you wanted it to. This was our large bandsaw at work with an excellent blade in it. Our bandsaw operator watched me cut it and he could not believe how hard this wood was. After it was cut, you could not see the bandsaw cut marks on the side, it looked like it was carved out, no bandsaw lines!

The hairstick is check free (so far), it sanded like a dream, but overall took longer to make, at least 2 times as long. I guess that thinking about breaking it in my lathe didn’t help much either. All I could think of was having this wood blow up on the lathe….. You can see the results, a great looking stick, sold in a few hours.

The civil war pen was made from the left over wood from the hairstick. Now here is where I learned some lessons:

Heat buildup is not your friend. You must take a lot of time to bore your pen hole. This wood is so hard that it gets very how quickly, and I mean quick! It took longer to drill it than any of the other operations combined. And having said that, I made a few small wood checks at the bottom of the drilling from the heat. Easy to fit when small, but they came from boring, and this with a brand new drill bit.

Second for me was learning to sand this at a slower speed, again it can heat up so quick that you would be in danger the wood to split. I worked it up through the grits to 4000. It turned out slick as glass.

• Would I suggest using this wood, yes, it is great stuff to use, but figure out that you will lose as much as 50% of the wood. Like I said, the piece that I cut these projects from was above average.

• Bought the block from off of E-bay, and is ran about $35 with the shipping. So first off it is expensive. I forget the size but it will yield 2 more double projects like this posting.

Thanks for viewing and reading this post.


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

6 comments so far

View Skylark53's profile


2842 posts in 4029 days

#1 posted 06-23-2011 10:21 PM

Nice pattern in the wood and a nice style of pen. I don’t do any turning, but I built a couple boxes out of some bamboo flooring scraps and found it is very hard and unforgiving if sanded or cut too quickly.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4724 days

#2 posted 06-24-2011 06:16 AM


What a beautiful finish. As you said- like glass!!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3889 days

#3 posted 06-25-2011 02:19 PM

That is really a beautiful wood! I have never heard of it before. You did a great job with it and the finish is really outstanding!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View wiser1934's profile


530 posts in 4116 days

#4 posted 06-27-2011 04:18 AM

that civil war pen is spectacular!! the hair piece is also great. have been wanting to do a pen in snakewood. thanks for the heads up about drilling and sanding

-- wiser1934, new york

View Sodabowski's profile


2393 posts in 3802 days

#5 posted 06-27-2011 09:56 AM

Yep, snakewood is very splintery and hard to work with, but worth every effort. Nice pen and hairstick!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25723 posts in 4074 days

#6 posted 07-26-2013 11:36 AM

That is really cool wood. Where does it come from? those are very nice pieces you turned from it.
I know what you mean about worrying if it will blow up in your face. I turned some thins hair pins from mesquite and I had one snap. It is hard to eliminate chatter marks- lot of sanding at the end!

Nice going, Jim

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

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