Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Hard but lightweight woods?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    828

    Hard but lightweight woods?

    I was wondering, what would be the lightest commonly available hardwood that is hard enough that it doesn't dent easily like, say, pine? Tulip Poplar is a joy to work and very strong, but it dents quite easily.

    I've found that I can get Japanese Ash (Tamo) here quite cheaply. I've got some, and it's very nice, but it's incredibly dense and heavy. Great for some things, but not so great for others where weight might be a concern.

    If I recall, Cherry is somewhat on the light side -- lighter than Oak and the like. It's not super hard, but it's a big improvement over pine or poplar, which is great. Any other options I should consider?
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 01-22-2022 at 9:45 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    24,891
    Blog Entries
    1
    You might try this site > https://tinytimbers.com/resources/janka/

    It lists the woods by Janka rating (hardness).

    Then compare that chart to the one here on weight per cubic meter > https://extension.psu.edu/calculatin...f-wood-species

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2021
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    25
    The wood database lets you filter by different characteristics -- you could play around with the hardness and density filters: https://www.wood-database.com/wood-filter/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    6,637
    Specific gravity (weight and density) go up along with hardness. "dent easily" is relative. Boxwood is a really hard wood, but it's hard to get, and not even available in large sizes. Depends on what you need it for.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,893
    You are asking for a unicorn. End grain will dent less than the face grain, if that helps. Difficult to help you a lot since we don't know the application. All woods dent, but some house movers lift a tremendous weight of homes and buildings on wood blocking.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    Posts
    10,672
    Also of note: Luke is IN Japan.....maybe look at the Yellow Cedar...that is used in those hand plane contests....
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    828
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    You are asking for a unicorn. End grain will dent less than the face grain, if that helps. Difficult to help you a lot since we don't know the application. All woods dent, but some house movers lift a tremendous weight of homes and buildings on wood blocking.
    Haha, well -- this occurred to me, and I wondered if this might not be the case.
    But, it does seem that some woods have an advantageous hardness / weight ratio. I mentioned Tulip Poplar, and, while soft, it is harder than some pines and other soft woods whilst being the same weight roughly (or just a tad lighter) and is significantly stronger (disregarding its tendency to dent and the like). So, I figured I may be able to find a happy medium, or that there may be some other factors that would make some woods superior in weight / hardness ratio.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    1,002
    Ash came to mind immediately. I'm not familiar with the Tamo ash you say is dense and heavy, any ash I can get here in LA feels noticeably lighter than white oak.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    828
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gibney View Post
    Ash came to mind immediately. I'm not familiar with the Tamo ash you say is dense and heavy, any ash I can get here in LA feels noticeably lighter than white oak.

    I don't know if this is typical or not, but compared to the Red Oak I used to use in the states, this Tamo I have is noticeably denser and harder.
    I was making a marking gauge with several... stems? earlier, and had to do some long rip cuts to cut out stems for the pin and mortise gauges I'm making. Ripping this Tamo is far tougher than any Red Oak that I've worked.

    That said, I've not worked a lot of white oak, so I can't really compare there. Japanese White Oak is also extremely hard, dense, and heavy -- more so than this Tamo.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    427
    I was shown a japanese chisel with a "Gumi" handle, it looks like boxwood, it has a very nice appearance. If you're making small tool handles, this may be something to try where you are.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,222
    Hi Luke
    You have me wondering about Japanese White Oak vs the White Oak we have in the US. Due to coarse grain ours might not be suitable for gauge parts which need a smooth surface.

  12. #12
    Bamboo is hard but lightweight.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  13. #13
    Whatís the application? Youíll be hard pressed to find a light, dense wood that is not some kind of composite.

    Iíd look at veneered plywood or bamboo or phenolic plywood if your form allows it.

    I can tell you that for electric solid body guitars, swamp ash is prized for its weight / durability characteristics. But itís becoming more rare. Some makers (I have it on good authority) plan to switch to sassafras. You might consider this wood. Iíve only seen it wild and it smells amazing and is light. I cannot attest to its dent resistance.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 01-29-2022 at 9:59 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,893
    The genus Oak consists of 500 species and that is broken down into 2 names of red oak and white oak. So saying white oak has course grain is a broad generalization. White oak is ring porous, but what we have in Illinois is far from a course grain.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •