Posted on August 7, 2016
A friend recently offered me some pieces of slab timber which had been in storage for some time and had no intended use for. The wood included Silky Oak, Mossman Raintree and Black Wattle ... it took me a few weeks to get over there to pick it all up.
Upon arrival, Jeff said "oh, there's this couple logs of Black Wattle also that you may as well take". I stood for a minute looking at the lower trunk section of what had been a reasonably large tree. The piece measured over a metre and a half long and around 700 mm in diameter ... and looked like weighing in around 400 kg. This was going to be heavy for the two of us to deal with. Fortunately he had a spare trailer ready to man-handle the cut log pieces onto.
After an hour of messing around, we eventually got the larger piece on to the trailer with a 2 ton chain block and tackle ... ready for the 10 minute drive back over to the workshop.
Black wattle is hard and fairly dense timber. Once dry, it's tough on cutting gear so I decided to rip the log pieces straight away. I made the decision to use the wood mostly for bowl forms so did the rip cuts to follow the internal heartlines ... resulting in several full-length half-log "round backs". Any large chunks that I trim off along the way, I'll put across my table saw and recover some 20mm thick "board" pieces for utensil making.
All the rip cuts by chainsaw were made along the incumbent heart lines in each piece of wood. The fork piece was split along multiple heart lines sequentially to break it down into roundbacks that contained no heart. This was to ensure that I could shape bowl forms which would have no concentric heart rings crossing the form. I usually try to avoid incorporating any of the center heart because the stresses created by the small growth rings always leads to radial cracking from the center out ... and often the center heart pieces might crack out entirely during the drying process.
Black wattle is great timber for making large bowl forms. It is very hard and often contains substantial figuring although can also contain prominent defects and voids caused by boring insects. Generally, this isn't a problem as I can usually either work around the defects or, more often than not, feature them by carving them out.