Bird number: 69
Date: June 5, 2012
Wood: Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Despite the name, Honey locust is not closely related to Black locust. They share the same family, but not the same genus. The woods, however, are very similar. When I first started carving this Honey locust, I thought that whoever sent it to me had misidentified it. But the wood is slightly lighter in color than the Black locust, not quite as hard, and the end grain is somewhat different.
The name “honey locust” is derived from the sweet taste of the legume pulp, which Native Americans used for food and which can be fermented to make beer. Brewing is another of my hobbies, so I might have to see if I can track down some honey locust for brewing.
It’s apparently a popular tree because it’s hardy in the wild and also tolerates urban conditions well. Some varieties have nasty thorns growing from the branches. I thought mesquite trees were bad, but these things look deadly! Fortunately, there are thornless varieties, as well. It’s a pretty tree. The inside is rather attractive, too.
I’ve seen a few other carvings from Honey locust, although most of the woodwork I see is turned (bowls, plates, etc.). The wood is much too hard to carve comfortably with just a knife. The Foredom didn’t have any trouble with it, of course, and sanding was fairly easy. The result is quite smooth, and I really like the color variations in the grain bands.
Unfortunately, this is the only piece of Honey locust I had. But as popular as it seems to be in the Midwest, I suspect I can get more if I want it.