Gorgeous Crepe Myrtle Wood Chisel Handles

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Forum topic by RichardDePetris posted 09-01-2017 09:10 PM 2605 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 2494 days

09-01-2017 09:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource crape myrtle lathe chisel handles shaping woodturning

Two years ago, I posted my experience drying crape myrtle lumber I found on the curb. See my post for further details:

Well, the wood has finally dried and I avoided serious checks or cracks. The few pieces that cracked through were already in the process of drying long before I could seal them. I must say, at the possible expense of having the tree decimated for its lumber, it uses goes well beyond mere ornamentation.

It’s beutiful inside and out, The grain is spectacular and puts curly maple to shame!. It has radiant ribbons which appear and dissappear, depending on how light bounces off of it. This feature is highly prized in figured woods and is commonly referred to as chatoyance, All of the pieces Ive milled have tt.

The photos below exhibit the beutiful ribbons from my experiment with turning and making chisel handles. I am not completely pleased with how the shaping turned out, but I am excited about the wood’s appearance. Being a figured wood, it is hard to sand out imperfections and it is prone to tearout and gouges.

The first photo below is my first attemot at making a japanese chisel handle. The muddy color is a result of stain I applied and iron swarf from grinding and sharoening. The wood is quite strong and can easily handle heavy blows of a hammer. It took many attempts to create a slight mushroom on the chisel’s too. The second ohoto is my second attempt finished with a polyeurethane, BLO and mineral spirits blend. The final one is a failed marking knife handle using a colonial stain with no finish.

I wanted to photograoh the chatoyance, so I took the chisel outside and captured two photos. With no flash, the ribbons are visible, but faintl Witg flash, however, the stripes became more vibrant. You can easily spend several minutes angling the handle at different orientatiins to watch them appear and dissappear.

If you are in an region where crape myrtle is common, don’t pass them up. See my aforementioned post on how to properly dry the logs, When milling the logs, you have to remove the pith as it is prone to splitting. Fortunately, the best figure is around the it.

Unfortunately, all,of my stock are narrow pieces. If they were wider, I would build a stringed instrument to experiment with its tone. The wood is very similar to curly maple, only prettier and slightly harder. Aside from the width, my only complaint is sandng difficulty, Perhaps, I will get a better finish with more lathe practice and or sharper lathe tools.


4 replies so far

View oldwood's profile


162 posts in 2052 days

#1 posted 09-02-2017 03:00 AM

Good for you because that is much better than the stuff I’ve had. May be that yours was larger/older than mine but mine was pretty dull.

View HTown's profile


114 posts in 1994 days

#2 posted 09-02-2017 04:09 PM

Thanks for sharing. That has a really pretty figure.

View Just_Iain's profile


326 posts in 1224 days

#3 posted 09-06-2017 02:14 PM

It’s been a very enlightening story. Thank You!

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2576 days

#4 posted 09-06-2017 02:29 PM

I have about 30 crape myrtle around the house. Some are about 5” in diameter. Will definitely looking into utilizing the wood. Thanks


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