Jump to content

Ironwood Sources?


NotYou
 Share

Recommended Posts

Does anybody know of a supplier that has or can get desert ironwood? I've used it a few times before and I'm blown away by the tonal qualities. The ironwood I had kind of fell into my lap, but I ran out and now I can't find anymore.

I just received a custom order requesting it and I need to track this stuff down, so I don't lose it.

The wood is rare, expensive, very toxic (splinters are like bee stings and the dust makes you sick), extremely difficult to work with, HEAVY, it dulls tools, smells awful (and burns your nose, throat, and lungs), it's pretty bland looking; the trees are small, twist a lot, and grow in the ****ing desert. So, needless to say, not many places go out of their way to sell it. It's out there, though.

But, with all that negative comes some extreme positives. It's practically as stable as steel and it sounds beautiful. Very, very warm and rings like crystal.

I've found places that sell small pieces for knife handles and such, but that's it. There seem to be places in Arizona, where it grows, that sell it, but nobody seems to have any right now. It's not exactly a hot commodity, so that's understandable.

If anybody can point me in some direction, I'd really appreciate it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How big a piece are you looking for? I used to always see these rudimentary carvings of desert ironwood in Mexican mercados for not to terrible prices....especially in the Mexican border towns, but also in San Antonio. I remember seeing a football sized football carving for $30 or $40 and often wished I picked it up with the idea of re-carving it into something decent. Does Denver have a Mexican market? If not Denver, maybe Pueblo or Trinidad?

SR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably not the variety of ironwood you're used to, but down here Australian Tonewoods sell Cooktown Ironwood fingerboard blanks.

I might look into that in general. If I can find something tonally similar, I'd be willing to consider it.

How big a piece are you looking for? I used to always see these rudimentary carvings of desert ironwood in Mexican mercados for not to terrible prices....especially in the Mexican border towns, but also in San Antonio. I remember seeing a football sized football carving for $30 or $40 and often wished I picked it up with the idea of re-carving it into something decent. Does Denver have a Mexican market? If not Denver, maybe Pueblo or Trinidad?

SR

It's mostly for the neck. I think I have enough left for neck lams (I'm at home, so I can't check atm). Fretboard wood is my main concern. Finding it that wide and long is difficult.

Most of the Mexican culture in Denver is very Americanized (they're mostly a few generations detached), so there isn't a lot of that kind of thing around here. It's worth looking into, though.

A search on craigslist only turned up a few results and all were for really expensive furniture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone. I'll keep an eye on Gilmer. I probably even give them a call tomorrow.

Are you talking about Ipe? If so, it's used mostly for deck surfaces. Try checking out your local decking suppliers.

Not quite. I think ipe is considered ironwood, though. The kind I'm looking for comes specifically from the American Southwest, mostly Arizona. It's normally called desert ironwood or olneya.

I've never worked with ipe before, but I think they look very similar and have some similar qualities. The main difference seems to be that olneya trees twist a lot, so the wood is often hard to find in long lengths, and the smell.

I've heard ipe smells like vanilla and cinnamon. Olneya smells strongly like cheap perfume and cat pee. :D

Edited by NotYou
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The more I look around, the more I realize this wood does have nice grain contrast. The stuff I had was very bland visually. I got it from a guy who bought it for a particular project and wanted it all uniform. That would probably explain it. It looked more like this, which is a lot like some ipe (this image is still olneya):

desert-ironwood.jpg

But, some of it also looked a lot like this, which is ipe:

ipe.jpg

Edited by NotYou
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of the carved stuff I saw in the Mexican markets was bland and nearly black, like ebony. But that could be from the polish I saw them putting on it. It looked just like black paste shoe polish, it was even in a flat can. I saw some very nice pieces in La Villita in San Antonio, mostly jewelery boxes and free form shapes that were just gorgeous.

SR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...