#80: Quina

Bird number: 113
Date: November 18, 2012
Wood: Quina (Myroxylon)
Source: Woodcraft store

I thought I was smelling perfume when I cut the blank for this bird on the bandsaw. It turns out that I was partially correct. Quina, also called Balsamo and in the lumber trade Santos Mahogany, is the source of Peru balsam, which is used in perfumery, and Tolu balsam, which is an ingredient in some cough syrups.

The odor is surprisingly strong. By the time I was done carving and sanding this figure, my workshop smelled like a department store cosmetics counter on Black Friday. I’m not complaining too much, though. The odor isn’t unpleasant. Certainly not like Crepe Myrtle.

Again, the wood is much more beautiful than my mediocre photography skills can capture.

The wood is hard, with an average specific gravity of 0.93. It almost doesn’t float. I didn’t find it difficult to carve. However, the Wood Database entry says that the wood has a noticeable blunting effect on cutting edges and that it’s difficult to work with due to its hardness and the interlocking grain. The wood is used for flooring, furniture, interior trim, heavy construction, and turned objects.

The tree is apparently very hardy and quite plentiful in its native habitat of South America. In other areas where it’s been introduced, it is an invasive species and poses a serious ecological threat.

It’s nice stuff. I have a small block that I’ll do something with, and I’d carve it again if a piece falls in my lap. I probably won’t go buy another block, though.