Bird number: 124
Date: December 4, 2012
Wood: Tasmanian Myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii)
Most of the woods I’ve used in the project I’d at least heard of some time in the past. I’d known of and even seen many of the exotics long before I started carving. I’d never heard of Tasmanian Myrtle before, and it looked really interesting there on the shelf at Woodcraft.
Besides, I didn’t have anything from Tasmania.
As interesting as it looked on the shelf, it looked even more interesting when I got it home and cut out the pattern. Finished, the wood has a definite pink hue that doesn’t show very well in these pictures.
It also has some interesting spalting and grain variation. The wood was a little more expensive than the average that I pay for a bird piece, but well worth the premium.
Nothofagus is the family of southern Beeches, native to temperate oceanic and tropical areas of the Southern Hemisphere. They used to be classified in the family Fagaceae along with all the other Beeches, but genetic tests have shown them to be distinct.
Tasmanian Myrtle, also known as Myrtle Beech (not to be confused with Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) grows in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, and on the island state of Tasmania. The wood is hard and strong, with a very close grain. It’s used for cabinetry, flooring, joinery, and cogs of wheels if you can imagine. And, as you can see from the pictures above, it can be polished to an extremely fine sheen.
The wood is commonly available in Australia, and occasionally available in the United States where its primary use is for turned objects. It shouldn’t be too difficult to carve with a knife, having a hardness on par with the fruit woods (apple, pear, cherry, etc.). The power carver, of course, had no trouble with it.
Easy to work with, and lovely stuff. I imagine I’ll pick up another chunk of it at some point.