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Dealing with extremely heavy and dense Mora railroad ties.

2029 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  newwoodbutcher
So my dad has been overseeing some railroad construction projects as of late. When we were talking on the phone he started telling me that they were using a new type of railroad tie made of Mora wood that comes from Guyana. What's supposed to be good about it is that it is supposed to be naturally pest resistant, weather resistant and doesn't need to be treated with creosote like the old ties needed to be so when they tear the track up later they don't have to pay to dispose of them as hazardous waste. Anyway I on a whim I asked my dad of they had any end pieces or or anything to bring some up for me to take a look at. I looked it up online and it says that it has a Janka hardness rating of 2300 so it makes maple or oak look like a joke. My dad called me the other day saying he was bringing over 2 10" x 12" x 5' foot sections of these Mora railroad ties that were left over after being cut to length for a switch track. Each piece weighs about 200lbs so these things are no joke to move around my garage. I'm wondering how best to tackle these. I own a DW734 planer, a 14" bandsaw, a 10" table saw and a power planer and a 18" gas powered chainsaw with which to work with. I don't have much experience dealing with exotic hardwoods and never anything this hard so I'd like a little help with how best to tackle these pieces to get them into manageable sizes. Namely 3/4" boards.

I'm wondering though would this stuff destroy my planer if I tried to run it through or bandsaw if I try to resaw it? What is the max weight the DW734 can feed I don't see anything listed on the spec sheet? Has anyone tried working with Mora before and have any tips? What would you do if you had these?

Thanks for any input! I kind of feel like the dog who chases cars and finally caught one and now doesn't know what to do with it. LOL
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Haha. Unfortunately I wont be much help… but I can sympathize.

A new house went up near mine and they had some tree clearing to do. There are now several logs (about 36"x15') sitting in the front yard. After some chatting and cajoling, I was told I could have them. It wasn't until later that I realized I don't even know how I will get them out of their yard, let alone mill them. At least you got the wood to your place before you were stumped. :)
Why not ask your dad what they use to cut them with; if he doesn't know he can ask the guys that work with it.
The ties come from central america pre-milled in 16ft lengths or shorter depending on the use (the switch tracks need the long pieces that get cut down) then they put them on a ship to America. When they get to the site all they have to do is cut them to length with a chain saw so there isn't much working to be done. I'm thinking I might call my local lumber yards and see if maybe I can pay them to have them milled into rough boards on their equipment. Since I'm getting the left over end pieces for free I still think I might make out on the deal.
Does your dad have any contacts in northern IN? I know we have lots of RR here. I would love to see less creosote and more free chunks of exotic hardwood beams!
My 50 plus years of woodworking tells me that the Mora wood should be workable. When planing on a thickness planer take light cuts. Start with about 1/32" and increase a little with each pass until the planer seems to be laboring, then back off some for future cuts. Make a note of the maximum depth of cut for the future. The same with bandsawing and table sawing. For bandsawing use a heavier blade like 1/2" or more and something with larger teeth. Don't force the wood through the saw, just take it easy and let the saw do the work. As for the table saw, take some test cuts and don't force the wood through the saw. Take it easy. Soon you will find how deep a cut you can take and keep the saw from laboring. The going will be slower than Pine, but you should be able to work the wood.

I would find a saw mill. Perhaps barter for some % of the wood. That way you get nice sawn pieces you can work with in your shop
I would find a saw mill. Perhaps barter for some % of the wood. That way you get nice sawn pieces you can work with in your shop
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