what to do with ipe

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Forum topic by sausageking1 posted 05-07-2014 11:31 AM 1870 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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46 posts in 2947 days

05-07-2014 11:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

A neighbor recently gave me 6 6×32” pieces of what he saysv is Brazilian walnut (ipe). Also is a 4×4 about 4 feet long and a 28 gallon tub full of 6-10” long cut off pieces from building his deck. Any ideas on what I can do with this wood? From everything I have read this stuff is tough to finish. ...hard to cut…hard to glue…sounds like a pain in the ass to work with…but sure is pretty to look at. I’d rather not just waste it (he wanted me to throw it in my fire pit) any suggestions or tips for working this wood will be greatly appreciated

-- "The difficult I can do right away. .....the impossible will take a little longer! "

20 replies so far

View TravisH's profile


793 posts in 3394 days

#1 posted 05-07-2014 11:38 AM

If you aren’t going to use it all, could look at boxing up shorts in a USPS box and selling it off.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4776 days

#2 posted 05-07-2014 12:29 PM

The 6 6X32 pieces could make a top for an outdoor table. The top would be 36X32 if you use them all. That might work for a low(ish) outdoor coffee table. For a higher side table you might want to scale the size back some.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View EastLake's profile


46 posts in 2996 days

#3 posted 05-07-2014 01:26 PM

Ipe is great for outdoor furniture, but all screw construction. If you have enough, a couple of patio end tables with a reclaimed rustic top? Sounds like you got enough for at least 1 foot stool to go with an adirondack chair.

-- Mark, Western New York, East Lake Woodcraft

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3327 days

#4 posted 05-07-2014 01:47 PM

Yes on screw construction. Countersink them then add dowels.

Does the Ipe have a groove in the edge? If so, you can use blind fasteners.

If not, you can make a groove in the edge with a biscuit jointer. They aren’t cheap, and you probably couldn’t get just a handful… Except … Wait for it… It should be somewhat obvious that I have some. PM me and I can send em to you. You pay shipping.

All that said, using plugs is legit, and it looks just like a dowel in the finish. It actually is a nice accent. Just lay them out on even intervals and in a straight line across the entire surface. I go with went one inch in from the edge on my most recent project (in locations where two scres/plugs per framing member were needed).

I have some scrap, and intend to make a couple moulding planes with it. Perhaps a bench plane, for the experience.

A couple other ideas:

Ipe is noted for movement, but it sounds like your longest piece is only 36 inches. Not a huge concern here.

It really is beautiful wood. Don’t breathe the dust.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1172 posts in 3989 days

#5 posted 05-07-2014 02:27 PM

Just for kicks, try burning a piece…

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3839 days

#6 posted 05-07-2014 03:13 PM

Make a mallet

Click for details

-- Rick M,

View JAAune's profile


2134 posts in 3775 days

#7 posted 05-07-2014 06:37 PM

When I first saw the title of this topic I thought it read, “What to do with pie”.

Looks like everyone else already gave good answers regarding the real question but if anyone is uncertain about appropriate uses for pie, just send the pastries along to me and I’ll take care of the problem.

-- See my work at

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3820 days

#8 posted 05-07-2014 06:52 PM

You could build a really tiny deck.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View sausageking1's profile


46 posts in 2947 days

#9 posted 05-07-2014 09:41 PM

Great feedback guys….I gather from the response that gluing is out of the question? I like the mallet idea…as for the tiny deck idea…cool….but I’d have to keep it a secret. ....wouldn’t want everyone to know I have a tiny deck! (However…I heard that if you trim the bushes around your deck it looks bigger. ...)

-- "The difficult I can do right away. .....the impossible will take a little longer! "

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4149 days

#10 posted 05-07-2014 10:00 PM

I have made several boxes from Ipe and glued them up with Titebond II with no subsequent problems. Used both splined miters and box joints. As far as finishing, it is open grained (like oak) but I filled the grain with Timbermate and it finished beautifully!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JAAune's profile


2134 posts in 3775 days

#11 posted 05-07-2014 10:06 PM

Some people report problems gluing ipe, some don’t. One possible issue could be that the name “ipe” is used for several species of wood and isn’t actually a species of its own. This could be why glue works for some people then fails for another.

-- See my work at

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3839 days

#12 posted 05-08-2014 02:14 AM

gluing is out of the question?

I certainly didn’t screw that mallet together ;)

-- Rick M,

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3327 days

#13 posted 05-08-2014 02:54 AM

I’ve heard mixed reports on gluing. Those who claim success generally add that they had used acetone or other solvent to clean the Ipe prior to gluing.

I have seen it glued in photos, and have recently glued some in the wild, to find out for myself. Time will tell. (I did use the acetone wipe down method, and the foaming gorilla glue. That stuff is messy. I have heard Titebond III works well if the surface is cleaned with solvent)

All hearsay. My experiment is just a couple weeks old. A year is what I’ve heard is the failure point for glues on Ipe.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 3355 days

#14 posted 05-08-2014 03:54 AM

It glues up fine if you use a solvent to remove the oil the wood produces from the surfaces. It is hard and so heavy it sinks like a stone if dropped in water. Ipe is pretty stable once it’s fully dried, shrinkage of boards that haven’t been properly acclimated is the only issue. It’s so dense it doesn’t absorb moisture from the air like many woods so seasonal movement isn’t a problem. It finishes well but you need to use a good sealer to lock in the oils that will cause most finishes to bubble and peel. It’s a difficult wood to work with but once a project is completed it’s as durable as concrete. Have fun and have some extra blades on hand, you’ll need them.

View EPJartisan's profile


1123 posts in 4584 days

#15 posted 05-08-2014 01:31 PM

I use Ipe for my table saw sleds and fence, all finished with coat of wipe on poly… once dry.. very stable and reliable .. as long as the environment is stable and reliable. Outdoors is different story.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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