#97: Black Palm

Bird number: 130
Date: December 17, 2012
Wood: Black Palm (Borassus flabellifer)
Source: Woodcraft

I was surprised at how dense this wood is. The few types of palm wood I’d ever seen were quite fibrous and very light. Not as light as Balsa wood, but also not as solid. It turns out, though, that there are some 2,600 different species of palm trees. So I guess it’s no surprise that some would be hard and dense. Coconut palm (also known as Red Palm) is also very dense. I hope to carve that some day, too.

Palms are neither softwood nor hardwood, and by botanical definition not even trees. They’re monocots: structurally more like bamboo, grasses, orchids, etc., than what we typically call trees. They grow much differently than trees and as a result do not have annual growth rings. There is no “grain” to the wood, which really isn’t wood at all. Technically.

Wood or not, it sure looks nice. The fibers create an almost feather-like pattern on the figure.

It carves and sands like wood, too, and it’s used for many of the same things that wood is used for: flooring, boat building, walking sticks, knife and tool handles, rafters, furniture, and turned objects.

The only trouble I had with this piece was sanding. The alternating dark and light areas made it very difficult to distinguish scratches from the natural features. I spent a lot of time bent over a lighted magnifier, sanding. I think all that work paid off.