#33: Staghorn Sumac

Bird number: 54
Date: April 2, 2012
Wood: Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Source: Trade

This is another bird carved from a blank provided by Frank Faust. It’s the first I’ve worked with Staghorn Sumac, although I’ve worked before with Fire Leaf (or Flame Leaf) Sumac, Rhus copallina,¬†before. My recollection of the Fire Leaf Sumac is that it’s quite a bit harder than this stuff. But I was carving that with a knife. I carved the bird with the Foredom, and it tended to fuzz up quite a bit.

For some reason I had trouble getting this bird’s shape right, and getting a smooth surface (sanding) was a real problem. I put a finish on it a few days ago and then noticed quite a few spots where I hadn’t smoothed it sufficiently. I’ll just say that getting an oil/wax finish off a soft wood takes quite a bit of sanding.

You might not be able to see it very well, but the wood does have a greenish tint. It was much more green before I put the finish on it. The finish made it more yellowish.

Staghorn Sumac is a hardy tree that has a lot of different uses. I had no idea that so many parts of it were useful. I’d want to make sure the tree I was getting leaves or berries from wasn’t poison sumac before I started making tea. Or before I started carving it, for that matter. Poison sumac is, according to some, the most toxic plant species in the United States.

I know of a few people who carve Staghorn Sumac, but it’s more commonly used for turning and for lumber. I have a pen that somebody turned from Staghorn Sumac.¬†It’s unfortunate that I only got this one piece of sumac. I’d like to carve some more of it and experiment with different finishes to see if I can get the green to come out more.

One thought on “#33: Staghorn Sumac

  1. I got some staghorn about 3 months ago. I never new the power tools and sand paper have such a hard time with it…kinda the opposite of tupelo huh?
    I carved some stuff… a spoon mainly…and it finishes beautifully from the knife. One of the cleanest and shiniest finishes. Then i just put some walnut oil on it and it was like glowing! I had a hard time taking pictures of it.

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