Lignum vitae finish?

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qquake

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When I was a kid, my dad had a chunk of lignum vitae in his shop that he called ironwood. He told me it was so hard and dense, that they used it for prop shaft bearings in WW2 submarines. It always fascinated me. I don't know whatever happened to the chunk he had, but I found some pen blanks at the local Rockler today. Anybody ever worked with it? Would Watco Danish Oil be a good finish for it?
 

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BSea

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I love lignum vitae. I've done a CA finish, pens plus, and no finish at all. The no finish at all was just an experiment, but I've used that pen for about a year. It's been through the washer twice, and aside from a little ink, it still looks and feels great. Now I don't really recommend going with no finish, but you could. I think you'd be happy with the danish oil finish. The pens plus is primarily walnut oil, and it works great.
 

jttheclockman

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When I was a kid, my dad had a chunk of lignum vitae in his shop that he called ironwood. He told me it was so hard and dense, that they used it for prop shaft bearings in WW2 submarines. It always fascinated me. I don't know whatever happened to the chunk he had, but I found some pen blanks at the local Rockler today. Anybody ever worked with it? Would Watco Danish Oil be a good finish for it?

[SIZE=+1] Some suppliers are now saying they are selling "lignum vitae" when they are actually selling "Argentine lignum vitae" or even Verawood. Ask for the botanical name of the wood. Argentine lignum vitae (bulnesia sarmientoi) and Verawood (bulnesia arborea) are not lignum vitae and are probably not related to lignum vitae. Genuine lignum vitae is now nearly impossible to get, but we keep finding small amounts that were imported before the current import ban, or under a strictly controlled permit process. What we sell is accurately named. All real lignum vitae has a botanical name that starts with "guiacum"

Found this on a seller's site. May have some merit.
[/SIZE]
 

CREID

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I made a pen of Lignum Vitae 5 or 6 years ago. I used Dr. Woodshop (pre the stuff made for penturners) and it looked great. This was before I started doing CA finishes. The wood looked great and made a nice pen.

Curt
 

qquake

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It's hard to believe that this ugly, wax coated block of wood turned into this gorgeous pen body! Whether it's "real" lignum vitae or Argentine, I still love it. I went ahead and finished it with Watco Danish Oil. I'm assuming that the sheen will lessen with time.
 

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KenV

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If it has a green tint is is the fake LV. It turns nicely, polishes well and is oily. A soft finish like the oil-varnish mix sold as Danish oil should work well. A light pass of OOOO steel wool will make gloss sheen into a matte sheen
 

qquake

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If it has a green tint is is the fake LV. It turns nicely, polishes well and is oily. A soft finish like the oil-varnish mix sold as Danish oil should work well. A light pass of OOOO steel wool will make gloss sheen into a matte sheen
The second blank was more oily than the first, and the goo that accumulated on the sandpaper definitely has a green tint to it. But the blank itself doesn't look green to me.
 

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KenV

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If it has a green tint is is the fake LV. It turns nicely, polishes well and is oily. A soft finish like the oil-varnish mix sold as Danish oil should work well. A light pass of OOOO steel wool will make gloss sheen into a matte sheen
The second blank was more oily than the first, and the goo that accumulated on the sandpaper definitely has a green tint to it. But the blank itself doesn't look green to me.
Looks like vera wood -- the "real" stuff is a lot more brown/cream.

Vera wood is a joy to turn and polishes up well. One can consider not putting any finish on it as it tends to be oily and like the "real" stuff does not traditionally require a finish.
 

avbill

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The reason Lignum Vitae is so dense is the oil within the wood. For a more natural look and feel use a clean soft rag. the oil will natural surface then burnished will produce a into a beautiful surface.

the Lignum Vitae I have came from Basil jungle pre- 1930's It came off the ship USS Mariposa --Matson Line.
 
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Is Vera Wood in the same price range as Lignum Vitae? Reason I ask is that the Wood that I purchased as Lignum Vitae was not all that cheap, I bought a 3" x 3" x 12" piece.
 

mark james

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Interesting discussion! Thanks to all who contributed.

All the blanks look great to my eye! When I turn a pen for myself, I prefer to use Danish Oil, so I appreciate the comments.
 

TurtleTom

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Genuine Lignum Vitae:
Ranges from a light olive green to a darker greenish brown to almost black.**Despite the great color differences shown in the samples above, both woods have virtually the same color range, and could easily be confused with one another.
Also there is only a three pound per cubic foot difference. (84 vs 81)
 

KenV

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Is Vera Wood in the same price range as Lignum Vitae? Reason I ask is that the Wood that I purchased as Lignum Vitae was not all that cheap, I bought a 3" x 3" x 12" piece.

Vera is not cheap, but real LV is really xpensive when,you can find it. A piece 4 by 6 by 8 cost $79 in Seattle in 1979. That would be $300-400 today.
 

alankulwicki7

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I made a pen from lignum vitae a few years ago and finished it used the natural oils from inside the wood itself. How you ask?

I turned the lathe up to 2500rpm, wrapped a paper towel around the blank (carefully mind you) and let the oil boil out of the wood. Then I rubbed the towel gently along the blank and spread the oil out.
It came out really nice with a soft, smooth finish!
 

Sylvanite

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