Bird number: 52
Date: March 18, 2012
Wood: Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Source: Southern Indiana
“Black Locust” sounds like the name of a comic book super hero. My online carving friend Dan sent me a chunk of this from his place in Indiana. The piece he sent had lots of cracks on the outside, and I was worried that I wouldn’t get a bird from it. Turns out that the cracks didn’t go very deep into the wood.
I’d heard of Black Locust before, as well as False Acacia (a literal translation of the botanical name, from what I understand). To my knowledge, I’ve never seen one, and this is the first time I’ve worked with the wood.
Obviously, the wood isn’t black. It’s called “black” because the bark is very dark.
The wood is extremely hard. Its specific gravity of 0.733 is close to that of Osage Orange (0.773). The wood has two other things in common with Osage Orange: it’s rot resistant, making it excellent fence post material, and it burns burns slow and hot.
Unlike Osage Orange, Black Locust is often used for furniture, flooring, paneling, and small watercraft.
The wood really is hard to cut. Just feeling its weight in my hand, I knew that I didn’t want to take a knife to it. The power carver didn’t have any trouble with the wood, although it did tend to fuzz up a bit. And sanding took quite a while before I got it smooth.
It’s a pretty wood, although not nearly as striking as some that I’ve worked with. It sure does take a nice finish, though, and I look forward to making something else with the bit of it that I have left.