#6: Mulberry

Bird number: 9
Date: December 7, 2011
Wood: Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Source: Round Rock, TX

My friend Mike has a mulberry tree in his back yard. He trimmed it over the summer and asked if I wanted one of the larger pieces for carving. Of all people, Mike should have known the answer to that. General rule is yes, I want it. Especially if it’s from a fruit tree or if I haven’t carved that type of wood before. Debra has been very understanding about all the random wood I collect. I wonder if she’d be more understanding if she knew how often I turn things down, or don’t stop to pick up limbs and logs I see lying around in different places.

Although the color of mulberry is similar to that of the Osage orange, the woods are quite different. Osage orange is about 50% more dense than mulberry, and is a whole lot harder. With a Janka hardness of only 1,100, mulberry should be rather nice to carve with a knife.

There are many types of mulberry trees, but only one common in North America. This is red mulberry, Morus rubra. I can find all kinds of information about the berries, and have even had mulberry pie, jam, and wine. Information about carving it is pretty scarce. Some say that it’s as hard as apple or pear, but those woods are a lot harder. Apple, for example, has a hardness of about 1,700, compared to Mulberry’s 1,100. I suppose I’ll have to try carving it.

The grain is more open than apple or pear, too, so it probably doesn’t hold detail quite as well as those two. Again, I won’t know until I try carving it myself.

I’m told that the wood will change color to a rich reddish brown within a year. It seems to be a little darker now than when I worked with it a couple of weeks ago. We’ll see what happens over time.

You might have noticed that this is bird number 9, but only the sixth entry for the project. I carved birds 6, 7, and 8 from woods that I’d already used in the Hundred Birds Project. This blog only shows the first bird from each different type of wood. That’s why I number the posts and list the bird number as well. Each bird has its number engraved on the bottom. Bird number 9 is the ninth bird I’ve carved.