Osage Orange

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by justinwdemoss posted 11-09-2010 02:14 AM 9599 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View justinwdemoss's profile


148 posts in 3809 days

11-09-2010 02:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: osage orange osage orange yellow

Anyone know much about working Osage Orange? A buddy of mine that works as an urban forester in Cincinnati brought me a bunch of shorts for small projects. (They harvest it and bring in a portable sawmill from time to time and cut board feet.) I know the stuff is rock hard, but does anyone have experience with it? The shorts are bright yellow. I mean like a canary mated with a yellow highlighter. Will this color stay? What type of finish can be applied that will help keep the color?

-- Justin in Loveland, OH

25 replies so far

View Roger's profile


21031 posts in 3718 days

#1 posted 11-09-2010 02:36 AM

It is a very hard wood. You’ll be making plenty of trips to the grinder if you turn it. Not sure about cutting on a tablesaw. I’ve done a mallet and a morter n pestal. I was just messin around. you can see a pic of the outcome on my projects. I just used some clear wipe on poly as a finish. It is definately yellow in color. That’s my 2-cents. Enjoy it

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View araldite's profile


188 posts in 4318 days

#2 posted 11-09-2010 02:39 AM

I have limited experience with it. As you say, it’s very hard. It’s also stable and good for making jigs and things for repeated use, cutting boards for example. It also holds up outdoors and won’t rot. It will darken however. Over time it will change into a brown orange type color, I guess depending on how much direct sunlight it gets.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View SouthpawCA's profile


277 posts in 4148 days

#3 posted 11-09-2010 03:16 AM

I’ve made a few bowls from Osage Orange. It is VERY hard and the color does change. Initially it starts out with that very bright yellow/orange color, but it turns to a very nice dark brown – I would say a mahogany brown . The grain will continue to show throughout the color change. The orange color will remain where the sun hasn’t hit it, but not nearly as intense as when originally cut. I do not use any stain or other color enhancements because I like the final (it’s been 2 years now) color or the wood.

-- Don

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3989 days

#4 posted 11-09-2010 04:33 AM

It is a very common tree here in Iowa. Farmers used to used to make fence posts out of it that lasted (almost) forever. It is commonly referred to here as “hedge wood”. Some say it is the only exotic wood that is native to North America.

I’ve worked with it quite a bit and I really like it. Yes, it is very hard. I’ve never personally witnessed it going very dark, but it does darken some with age. I’ve never turned it but I think I would like to.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3723 days

#5 posted 11-09-2010 05:34 AM

It was one of the woods of choice used by native americans for bowmaking.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5042 days

#6 posted 11-09-2010 12:26 PM

I gather lot’s of osage orange in Northern Kentucky for my rustic wood-crafting business. Sometimes I trade it to other artisans. I favor oil-based finishes for osage – the color will change with exposure to light.

-- 温故知新

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3987 days

#7 posted 11-09-2010 02:09 PM

Yep: “Osage Orange.” “Hedgewood.”

Widespread planting by the CCC in the aftermath of the dustbowl in the form of tree rows in an east-west line on section lines throughout the midwest for erosion control caused by wind. Average life of the Osasge Orange tree: 50-70 years.

Very hard, with a yellow green tint. Very rot and insect resistant. It’s “fruit,” the “Osage Orange,” is toxic, and these “hedgeballs” are commonly used in my part of the country to keep crickets from entering/staying in a home. You simply place these balls around your foundation, and it keeps the crickets at bay.

Not sure I would introduce this wood to my kitchen in the form of a cutting board, but sealed bowls would probably be okay.

Due to its hardness and density, Hedge is a SUPERIOR rot resistant hardwood, and is commonly used throughout the midwest for fencepost material. It also is one of the very best, if not, the best woods for wood heating. However, it is not recommended for use with fireplaces without a screen. Pockets inside the wood “pop,” sending sparks and embers flying on regular basis. It does burn very hot, and is an excellent choice for woodstoves. One must be very careful, so pay heed: It is strongly advised to mix this wood with other hardwoods when banking a stove. There are more than a few woodstoves that have been cracked open by the intense heat potential of hedge.

It is very hard on all cutting tools and bits, and chainsaw chains are not exception. It being a long grained wood, it does split very well!

View sbk's profile


10 posts in 4103 days

#8 posted 11-09-2010 03:03 PM

In parts of the south, we refer to Osage Orange as Bois D’Arc (pronounced as Boat Arc), and the Horse Apple tree. My dad likes to say that this stuff is so rot resistant that you could wear out two post holes with one Bois D’Arc fence post.

I’ve worked with Bois D’Arc several times, and really like the way it looks and finishes. You might expect tear-out when you plane it if your tools aren’t sharp, but that’s true for most any wood. I haven’t turned any bowls, but I did turn several spindles for a doll bed. The wood worked well…just keep your tools sharp.

-- Stephen, Missouri City, Texas

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3989 days

#9 posted 11-09-2010 06:05 PM

Osage Orange Gloat – - I have cross section of an Osage Orange truck that is about 18 inches in diameter and about 4.5 inches thick. Someday I will figure out the “just right” use for this piece. IT IS HEAVY.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5042 days

#10 posted 11-09-2010 10:27 PM

even our (USA) national anthem pays respect to this hard wood:

“Osage can you see by the dawns early light…”

-- 温故知新

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 4992 days

#11 posted 11-09-2010 10:38 PM

Is there anyplace that it can be ordered?

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3885 days

#12 posted 11-09-2010 10:59 PM

Dez: Woodcrafter sells Osage Orange in their local store, and I supposed they ship it. I don’t really know about the shipping as I drive right by the store on the way to work.
Around my part of Tennessee, south central, this tree is called Bo Doc; obviously a red neck pronunciation of Bois D’Arc or horse apple or hedge apple tree. I have several on my farm. Kids sometimes call the big yellow fruits from this tree “milk balls”. Pick one up and break it open and you see why. A sticky white sap will ooze out.
I never knew there was a wood working use for this tree untill recently. The wood is very slick when sanded. The limbs and twigs are fantastic fire starters because the wood is full of oil and resin. My dad used it to make drawer runners for repair of antique furniture. Works like UHMWPE in that application. The only way I was ever able to cut it with a chainsaw was to mix kerosene in the chain oiler. That would cut the resin and allow the chain to cut through the wood with out gumming up.

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 4992 days

#13 posted 11-09-2010 11:02 PM

crank49, Thanks for the answer and info! I would be using it for small stuff for those very reasons.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View JarednCols's profile


5 posts in 1799 days

#14 posted 12-24-2015 07:29 AM

justin, did you ever make anything with the osage orange wood?

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2858 posts in 3836 days

#15 posted 12-29-2015 11:00 PM

I have used 3/8” Bois d’ arc As an inlay because of it’s great color.!!

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics