Osage Orange Pens & Pen Holder

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Project by Grumpy posted 03-23-2008 10:14 AM 6243 views 4 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Another set of pens & pen holder made from osage orange. I don’t know how common osage orange is down under but a friend says he can get plenty off a farm in the Hunter valley. I believe it has origins in the US aroung Texas (GaryK might put some light on that). It sure has an interesting yellow/green pigment. Turns well and seems fairly stable.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

19 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4238 days

#1 posted 03-23-2008 01:01 PM

Hi Grumpy,

This is a beautiful desk set. I am beginning to really appreciate seeing a live edge on projects.

Osage orange is native to the central US but it has been naturalized throughout the US and even into Canada. It grows in Kentucky and is generally regarded as a nuisance tree because of the “hedge apples” it produces which have no viable use other than making a mess of the yard and creating a hazard for lawn mowers.

But after seeing works like this I will give the tree more respect.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4290 days

#2 posted 03-23-2008 01:07 PM

This is a gorgeous set Grumpy. Excellent work.

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4398 days

#3 posted 03-23-2008 02:24 PM

Scott took the words out of my mouth “I am beginning to really appreciate seeing a live edge on projects.” Well done.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4321 days

#4 posted 03-23-2008 02:48 PM

I love osage, nice pen set Grumpy. Hey Scott, check these people out . I found this site a few years back, they are still at it. They found a use for the hedge apples…take a cannon/trebuchet and shoot them into the neighbors yard.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4634 days

#5 posted 03-23-2008 04:11 PM

Very, very nice, Grumpy!

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

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 4296 days

#6 posted 03-23-2008 04:17 PM

wow very colorful ! nice work grumpy and the photos are great as well

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4722 days

#7 posted 03-23-2008 04:32 PM

Nice Set. I have lots of Osage Orange here in Texas. Several of my projects include it, it is a very durable wood and has wonderful color.

Thanks for the link Daren, maybe I’ll collect some horse apples and make the trip.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4202 days

#8 posted 03-23-2008 05:34 PM

Beautiful Grumpy,
Osage Orange is also called Mock Orange in the black belt region of the US where it grows into a large tree the size of oaks. The plants ranges from the deep south to the Middle US. It is a shrub over most of its range. Native Americans prized the wood for making bows. European settlers used it for construction pegs. Its branches were commonly used for fence post and locals tell me there are post in use today that were placed by slave labor. The rot resistant qualities of the wood are incredible. Makers of turkey calls like these old post because the wood will pick up blue, purple, green and other vibrant colorings a the point where the wood meets the soil. It seems only to occur in posts that have been in the ground a very long time.

I have used it to make Adirondack chairs, walking sticks, and turned items on the lathe.
The wood has a lot of oil, wax and silica in it naturally and can be polished to a high shine with only a cotton cloth. The only glue I have found that will hold it is urethane. It will turn to a deep red color in the sun. I shop antique shops and very seldom find anything made from the wood because of its hardness and the difficulty in finding large pieces without cracks makes working it difficult. It is not used for firewood because the pieces explode in the fire….not good. Apart from me, I know very few people who use this wood. I like working this wood, but it presents special challenges. Obviously, you have overcome those challenges. You should also know it will dull your saw blades and the dust is toxic, so wear you dust mask.
Sorry to be so long winded.

Beautiful Desk Set! Thanks for sharing.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4321 days

#9 posted 03-23-2008 05:54 PM

”Apart from me, I know very few people who use this wood.” Hi Roz, I’m Daren…now you at least know one more person ;)

View joey's profile


396 posts in 4320 days

#10 posted 03-23-2008 07:11 PM

We have lots of it here in Ohio, I have made a few long bows out of it for my son when he was a boy, I think it was his first bow. It was a prized wood for the local tribes for bow making along with ash, my grandfather taught me to make bows when I was young along with arrows. I have an Osage that I have my eye on that I want to get to make my grandsons so I can build them a bow of their own soon.


-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4046 posts in 4479 days

#11 posted 03-23-2008 07:31 PM

In eastern Kansas nearly all the farm fenceposts are either Osage Orange or limestone, and likely as not the trees are allowed to grow along field and section margins in hedgerows, hence another name for the fruit of these trees:
Hedge Apples. Some people believe placing them along the foundation will keep bugs out of the home and they sell in local grocery stores for 25¢ a piece.

We have a different ornamental shrub called a Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius), which flowers in spring with big white blossoms.
Hedge, Bois d’Arc (Bow Tree or wood) or Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) has few of these fine ornamental qualities, but it’s tough, dense, and covered with big stickers. Keeps the cattle in line and breaks the wind.

And the wood, as evidenced by Tony/Grumpy’s desk set can be rendered into beautiful objects. Certain not one of the exotic timbers I’m used to seeing posted from Down Under, but a treat to behold.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Grumpy's profile


25442 posts in 4267 days

#12 posted 03-24-2008 12:13 AM

Thanks for the kind words and great information about the osage orange Jocks. It’s good to know the history, also good to know about the safety aspects on the toxoligy.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Karson's profile


35193 posts in 4816 days

#13 posted 03-24-2008 07:27 PM

I’ve found that it turns brownish over time.

Great job and nice looking live edge on the base.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View FJPetruso's profile


326 posts in 4126 days

#14 posted 04-02-2008 01:26 AM

Beautiful pen set. I love the figure in the base. Great use of Osage Orange. Here in the Ozark region of Missouri is the former home of the Osage Indian tribe. In Missouri & the Ozarks, Osage Orange is called by the name that the old French trappers gave it… “Bois de Arc” or “Wood of the Bow”. Many hunters here make custom Indian style bows from Osage Orange for deer & turkey hunting.

-- Frank, Florissant, Missouri "The New Show-Me Woodshop"

View Grumpy's profile


25442 posts in 4267 days

#15 posted 04-02-2008 05:16 AM

Thanks for the information Frank. Osage certainly has an interesting history.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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