Softness of wood rings

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Forum topic by rodb posted 05-29-2010 05:03 PM 1337 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View rodb's profile


170 posts in 3820 days

05-29-2010 05:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany purpleheart carving tool carving modern

I have been a wood sculpture for many years. I have worked in both soft and hard woods. Most of my projects lately have been in exotic woods such as Purple Heart and African mahogany. I carve mostly with a Dremel tool with a high speed cutter. There are times when I will hit a patch of wood, some times a large one sometimes very small one, which is either very, very hard or very soft. I can understand the hard patches being a knot. Why are there soft patches? Are these changes in the growth patterns of the trees or is there something else happening here? Is there any way to tell these areas before I start to work?

Any answers would be appreciated.


-- R

5 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117653 posts in 3995 days

#1 posted 05-29-2010 05:10 PM

Wood being a living thing goes through many stages of growth and different seasons so I say it’s normal to have differences in woods hardness. Trees might wonder what our freckles and warts are all about LOL

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3618 days

#2 posted 05-29-2010 05:22 PM

Is it possible, that the wood you are working with has a form of ring shake? I read an article once that there is a bacteria that causes ring shake, which is a softening of the wood between the MC layer and the Heartwood. It can range from small spots to large areas. No discoloration, just a softening of the wood.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3731 days

#3 posted 05-30-2010 04:56 AM

”I have been a wood sculpture for many years.”
I’ve read posts from MANY different kinds of wood craftsmen here – from many different cultures – with many different interest and skill levels. But to hear from the wood itself—is truly a unique experience.

SORRY—it’s been that kind of day—- just couldn’t resist.
Just a little attempt at humor :-)

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3482 days

#4 posted 05-30-2010 12:57 PM

I have to agree with Jim. I have run into that quite a few times,mostly with hard woods having soft spots in them.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4423 days

#5 posted 05-30-2010 01:26 PM

I think all wood has some difference in hardness between the dark and light areas in its growth rings. It gets more pronounced in sotwoods like cypress where if you orbital sand a board too much you can actually feel the dark grain raised above the lighter grain. Since the sandpaper cuts into them at diferent rates.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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