#32: Chestnut

Bird number: 53
Date: April 1, 2012
Wood: Chestnut (Chestnut)
Source: Trade

There are actually eight or nine different species of chestnut, but it’s probably impossible to say which type this is. American Chestnut used to be very common in the Eastern United States, but the species were nearly wiped out by blight in the early 1900s. Most chestnut trees found in North America these days are crosses between American Chestnut species and species from Asia.

The wood is nice looking, and not too terribly hard. Although I used the power carver on this piece, I could have carved it with a knife. The wood really isn’t too hard.

The wood tended to fuzz up a bit under my aggressive carbide cutter, but it sanded okay. I really like the looks of this wood, and hope I get the opportunity to carve it again.

Chestnut is a little bit harder than basswood, and from all reports carves very nicely with a knife. It doesn’t hold fine detail, but it’s great for stylized carvings like these little birds. Carvers especially like wormy chestnut, which, if I understand correctly, is older wood that’s been chewed on by worms. It has lots of small holes throughout. In kiln dried wood, the bugs will all be gone. But if you pick up a log from the forest, you’ll likely find a few live ones with your knife as you’re working. Best to let the wood dry and then cook it in the oven (I do 200 degrees for two hours) before you start carving.