Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beautiful Snakewood

Snakewood is an incredibly beautiful wood which originates mostly in Suriname, South America. The specific gravity is around 1.2, making it one of the worlds hardest woods. The part sold as snakewood is really the heartwood of the larger tree. This wood is usually felled with axes and carried on the backs of hard working natives over streams and through snake infested jungle areas. Each tree felled is monitored, and the government has developed a strict permit process to control harvesting. Much of the wood has inferior or no figure, but the small amount that has attractive figure is exported. We use only figured pieces that have high density of figure. All snakewood has at least minute hairline cracks. We take the extra step of soaking some pieces in cyanoacrylate to minimize or eliminate any cracking. Fortunately, if cracks do occur, they can be hidden completely if caught early. We do not recommend attempting to dry snakewood, as this almost always leads to cracking. Being dense, the water content is already very low. To be successful, always have superglue and hardener on hand, cover the piece with plastic completely when not working on it, and seal it completely with a finish that does not allow moisture transmission. Needless to say, the wood should never be allowed to get overly heated or left in direct sunlight.

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