Author Topic: Carving with Crepe Myrtle  (Read 9086 times)

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Offline RedBeard

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Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« on: February 02, 2015, 04:34:37 PM »
Hello woodcrafters,
I was wandering around the wooded area around my apartment complex with my mutt and found a pile of discarded Crepe Myrtle cuts. It appears that someone had cut down a pretty mature tree and tossed it into the tree line to discard it. There are some pretty good trunks approximately 4 inches in diameter and less that range from 3 feet long to almost 10 feet long. I was curious if anyone on here has attempted to carve anything with this kind of wood and could provide me with a bit of inspiration for a project or two. The wood is extremely hard and appears to have cured in the woods for a bit but shows no signs of rot. Thanks in advance for the awesome ideas guys.
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 02:20:28 PM »
I have always wanted to to try to carve Crepe Myrtle but never had a piece big enough. Give it a try!
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Online madmax

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 02:32:28 PM »
Nope.  Do a spoon first and see how it goes.  Pretty prolific shrub here so if you have success you might start a movement.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2015, 02:32:41 PM »
How big of a piece do you want?
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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2015, 08:21:48 PM »
Started splitting a piece today.



This stuff is crazy hard. Ran into a knot that was gonna be scrap anyway so no big deal.



But it does have a super tight grain.



Maybe tomorrow I can start refining the shape. I'm going to keep posting progress pics so you guys can see how it's going (and hopefully give me some pointers, I've never really tried a spoon before). That way we can try out the wood "together."
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Offline Trekster

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 08:58:06 PM »
I could have sworn that I cut some wood that looks just like that and it was rock hard. But I might be thinking of Autumn Olive.

Autumn olive is damn near uncarvable and undrillable, at least once it's seasoned. I'm sure it would make nice firewood though! And you can eat the berries.

PMZ
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Offline Top Dog

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 10:44:10 PM »
That's some pretty wood, looks like it's got some decent curl/figure in it
always keep your clothes and your weapons where you can find them in the dark.
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Online madmax

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 02:22:24 AM »
I've got to trim mine and some of my neighbor's C.M.  Maybe I'll give it a shot.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
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Offline Dano

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 06:17:31 AM »
That has some really cool looking patterns in the pics, how about a pipe bowl maybe?  Or a tray for keys, coins, dumping out your pockets kinda thing...

Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 09:54:34 AM »
I have a plethora of pieces. I might have to try a pipe bowl next, or a tray.
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Offline Trekster

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 11:26:44 AM »
I would be very cautious about what woods you use to carve pipes with. I'm an amateur pipecarver myself and I can tell you that you really want to avoid soft woods, woods that burn easily, and woods that are known to contain toxins. Google "experimental pipecarving woods" and see what you can find re: crepe myrtle.

PMZ
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Offline Trekster

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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 11:31:14 AM »
Thanks trek. Never crossed my mind to look for toxicity (like I said, I'm new to this). I'll have to do some research to find out if it's safe.
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Offline Trekster

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 11:33:51 AM »
http://www.answers.com/Q/Can_you_burn_crape_myrtle_wood

Looks like it's not toxic, but it's a softwood, so you wouldn't have much luck with it as pipe wood. It'd burn out too fast and char easily, giving an off flavor to your pipe tobacco.

PMZ
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Offline pete28

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2015, 06:56:24 PM »
I am a 100% complete noob in anything related to wood carving, however, I have an idea that may work for the crepe myrtle. Depending on how long of a slab you can make it looks to me with such a great grain pattern you could possibly do some fret boards for guitars, dulcimers, and lap harps. I'm hoping Hushnel will chime in on this as he is a master when crafting instruments.

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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2015, 11:52:47 AM »
Here is my first attempt at a Crepe Myrtle spoon (and a spoon in general).



What do you guys think? Constructive criticism is needed.
Also, what should I seal it with? Will regular cooking oil (olive oil or vegetable oil) work or do I need to spring for something else?
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Offline Highlife

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2015, 11:52:21 AM »
Once dry, you can keep thinning the bowl and handle.

Also, food oil can go rancid, raw linseed or mineral oil is pretty common.

Nice first one! The inner bowl and the changes in contour are the hardest part
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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2015, 12:18:21 PM »
I was thinking walnut oil to seal it, has anyone tried it? And I'll see if I can't thin the bowl out a bit.
Keep your head down... Semper Fi

Offline Trekster

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2015, 05:50:01 PM »
Walnut oil works fine, make sure it's 100% pure food grade walnut oil, then you can let it dry (takes several days at least) and it'll harden slightly. Olive oil just goes rancid. Mineral oil is best for safety's sake since some people are allergic to tree nuts.
PMZ
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Offline BigHat

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2015, 04:00:33 AM »
mineral oil is great. thin it a bit with everclear if you have it, 3 to 1, oil to alcohol. gets into the pores better and dries faster too. it looks like you're having fun, trying out different shapes on your spoon. nice first spoon, for sure.

i wonder if crepe myrtle is hard enough for hatchet/small axe handles?
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Offline RedBeard

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2015, 06:17:27 AM »
It seems like it to me. I have a bunch of pieces to experiment with so I might have to try a spare handle for my hawk
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2015, 02:17:08 PM »
I'm not sure exactly what the wood is like. I'm thinking since it is small, shrubby tree it could be similar to dogwood, or boxwood-which would make it good for a lot of things. Sumac is also a small shrubby tree, but is nothing like Dog, or Box.

A neighbor down the street cut a bunch. While the house was vacant I had temptations to go liberate some trunks. Looked like good walking stick material, and who knows. I saw his pile, something came up and it was hauled off before I could ask.

I think I'll put urban lumbering on my to-do list. You are saying it is fairly dense and hard, looks like some has a bit of curly chatoyancy to the grain. Should make some good handles. How does it look if you break it?
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Offline hushnel

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2015, 06:59:45 PM »
One of the guys brought some to Buck Lake camp a few months back. It was a hard dense wood, I decided to turn a mallet to see how it holds up. I haven't really whacked anything with it yet but it does seem similar to a dogwood mallet I have that has taken a beating.


Offline wolfy

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2015, 07:08:32 PM »
Hush, I usually go to this site to look for any wood's properties.....

http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/pyinma/

It looks like you picked a good one to turn your mallet from.   Whether it stands up to the rigors of extended use as a mallet is for you to decide. :shrug:     Sure looks like it would, though.   Nice work! :thumbsup:
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Offline hushnel

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Re: Carving with Crepe Myrtle
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2015, 07:28:09 PM »
I'll try some leather tooling and hole punching with it, thanks for the link, it's a bit softer than white oak, but it is dense and heavy. It may be a good choice.