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Thread: uses for Osage Orange?

  1. #1
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    Default uses for Osage Orange?

    hey all,

    the sawmill where i shop (is shop the right term??) seems to have lots of nice osage orange lately. they have enough that the owner keeps offering me good deals on it.

    so what kinds of uses are there for osage orange, either in the boat shed or elsewhere?

    I will lay in a stock this fall in my new wood storage rack if I can identify some future usage for this very nice looking wood.

    Jerry

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Not boat-building, but Osage Orange makes nice bows for archery.
    "Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy."
    - Bill Mason


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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I believe the sailing ship Sultana was built of Osage Orange in Chestertown MD not so long ago.

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Osage Orange/Bois d' Arc is intensely hard when cured, so much so that it is reportedly possible to file rip teeth in the edge of an eighth-inch-thick piece, and cut a kerf in the end of a piece of rock maple.

    It is VERY resilient, making it a traditional choice for bows, as noted by Canoez, and it is an excellent choice for steam-bending, being capable of amazing contortions.

    Further, bowdock heartwood is nearly impervious to rot.

    I'd say that it would be an excellent choice for bent frames, thole-pins, cleats and etc.

    If you're getting a 'good price' on it, I'd say "Go man! Go!"

    Edited to add: Hey man! I grew up in Starkville!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Alot of the trim on Susan I believe is osage orange
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ighlight=susan

    Dang oznabrag, Are you in Austin TX? I was just there a couple weeks ago! The week before the ACL Festival.
    I'll be in Corsicana the 15th for 2 days
    "The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." -Arthur Ransome

  6. #6
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Look on ebay to see what they are selling there as bow making material. You can get good money for a stave that's dry, straight, not twisted and with no runout.

    http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trk...-All-Categorie

    It's a bit heavy, but would make indestructible oars or paddles. The challenge is to get pieces as described above.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Get a good look at the wood...heartwood staves are worth as much as $150 for perfect grain.....it is a damn nice wood for cleats, blocks and any part of the backbone, especially if you can cut it thin and laminate it. Makes excellect stems, frames/ribs, horn timbers etc, far better than oak if you can get larger sizes.

    For instance...I have two working recurve bows on the rack made from laminations of Bois d'Arc laminated with a flexible epoxy...limbs less than 1/4 inch thick finished(1/32 in veneers), draw weights 65 to 85 pounds, each worth about 800-1200 bucks on todays market.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    this stuff is mostly 4" x 6" x 8'+ and some is cut as 8/4 by whatever it came out to. some is clearly NOT bow making material, some of it may be.

    next time i am out that way i will look it over really well. I would not mind at all re-sawing and selling bow stock to fund my next boat build. I'll do some research on what they are looking for.

    I will also grab some of the 8/4 stock for cleats and such. I would guess I will have to pay upward of $1.50 a bf for the best stuff though, probably worth the investment.

    OH, I might just need some rub rail, too.

    Jerry

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Make a mallet from the stuff. You can even drive nails with it so I've been told.
    basil

  10. #10
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    At home we have fence posts put down over 60 years ago, still good in the ground.
    If the wood is good grain it can only go up in price if you have somewhere to store it to season. I made all the blocks, belaying pins and cleats (not used for mooring) and a lot of other exterior work on my 44 footer from Osage. Front yard still has one of the oldest and largest known trees in the U.S.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidagage View Post
    Alot of the trim on Susan I believe is osage orange
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ighlight=susan

    Dang oznabrag, Are you in Austin TX? I was just there a couple weeks ago! The week before the ACL Festival.
    I'll be in Corsicana the 15th for 2 days
    Sounds like you barely missed my birthday barbecue!

    Uhhh... Where's Corsicana?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I can report that Osage makes excellent textile tools, especially shuttles for handweaving. It takes a very fine finish that gets only smoother with years of use. My Sweetie has a couple Osage shuttles I made for her about twenty years ago that are among her favorites.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I have heard, however, that Osage burns so incredibly hot that it should never be used as wood stove fuel. it can actually melt an iron stove. Has anyone else heard this?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Absolutely....we have a surface coal vein near the house....but always went for coal when Osage was in abundance. Granddad used it in the blacksmith forge but not inside in the cast iron stoves.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  15. #15
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    And yes, the Sultana is almost all osage. They used it because the trees were in a nearby woodlot and free for the taking. But they claim to be happy with the decision.


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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Sultana was featured in WB#165. White oak keel, orange osage frames and deckbeams, w/o planking and ceiling, Douglas fir masts, hackmatack knees (and very likely a few other woods used in suitable places).

    Tom

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Ditto the above. Osage Orange is great for many uses in boats. I have some offcuts from the Sultana that were made into samson posts, cleats and a few other thingys. I'm not an expert on osage orange but would put it in the same class with black locust. Osage orange is tough stuff but I would say that some live oak I have is harder and tougher. As for saw blades and hammers, I'd have to see that demonstration to believe it.
    Tom L

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Lathrop View Post
    ....As for saw blades and hammers, I'd have to see that demonstration to believe it.
    Well, somehow I suspect it doesn't contain the BTU's of oxy-acetylene either, but swapping lies around the wood stove or over drinks at the bar is an old maritime tradition.

    Where this tree was native in the Red River area of Texas and Arkansas, it could grow to be a 40-60' tree. But like many understory trees, it easily twists as it grows to compete better for sunlight. It was transplanted elsewhere by Native Americans and immigrant farmers as a fast-growing, thorny hedgerow plant, not a timber tree, trained accordingly, and straight-grained balks suitable for bows are quite rare. Hence their high price. Moreover, the books say they've always been rare, as a good Osage bow used to be worth a horse and blanket.

    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 10-29-2010 at 10:30 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Osage all over Susan... hatches, entryway hatch, trim, steering hatch, cockpit trim, etc...

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...t-Susan-quot-9

    RodB

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Lathrop View Post
    ... As for ...hammers, I'd have to see that demonstration to believe it.
    I've got a coupla hedge hammers that have taken quite the beating over the past 12/15 years. I do prefer steel, but hedge is damned tough.

    I didn't say you could make a living re-sawing with a bowdock ripsaw, what I said was that the shtuff is haaaaaaaard.

    The OP is living in Sturgis, Mississippi, and when I was growing up, near there, the Caterpillar operators made it clear that the owners of whatever land they were clearing were responsible for track damage due to bowdock stobs. Many of them would simply refuse to operate on land that had been bush-hogged, because the bowdock stobs would punch the tracks off their tractors.

    No shtuff, Shmalser.

    You can preach all you wanna 'bout yer NorthWest hardwoods.

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Well, I'm looking for a bunch so I can make a wheel... I also need some thick stuff (10/4 or 12/4) because I'd like to turn some oval handles for the hollow ground screwdrivers I'm working on. So I'd say yes, take good stuff if you can find it!
    The Strength of the Pack is the Wolf... And the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I think i will go talk to the mill owner and take a good look at what is there. My materials list for my next boat (Tolman skiff, money in hand, soon to be building) includes clear lumber for rub rails and spray rails, and I need to make a bow roller/anchor mount plus assorted cleats. the mallet idea is one I will follow up on also, thanks.

    Don Z. if you can afford the postage I can send you some turning blanks As I will probably end up with some 4x6 stock from the "seconds" pile. the owner stacks pieces that do not meet the order (for size, quality, bark or whatever) in a pile of seconds where I can buy some nice stock that may have a bad spot or two at stupidly cheap prices (yesterday i got 160 bf of 4/4 red oak for $20), there was a number of 4x6s in that pile yesterday. I'll grab them if they have any decent sections in them, I could get a lot of cleats and mallets out of a couple of those.

    Cheers
    jerry

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by blacksmith View Post
    I have heard, however, that Osage burns so incredibly hot that it should never be used as wood stove fuel. it can actually melt an iron stove. Has anyone else heard this?
    I have burned Osage Orange in our cast-iron wood stove in the past. No lasting problems (it was mixed with other hardwoods in the stove,) but . . .

    Whenever I opened the stove door, to add more wood or whatever, I was always greeted with an incredible shower of sparks! Embers flying everywhere. Even far enough to reach the carpet, out past the hearth. Once one hit me in the face and stuck fast, burning away. Ouch!

    Didn't take me long to quit burning Osage Orange. Nasty stuff in a wood stove, for sure. Save it for cleats or whatever.

    Wayne

  24. #24
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    .... the Caterpillar operators made it clear that the owners of whatever land they were clearing were responsible for track damage due to bowdock stobs. Many of them would simply refuse to operate on land that had been bush-hogged, because the bowdock stobs would punch the tracks off their tractors.
    If Bodark saplings small enuf to mow leave stumps tough enough to throw a track on a Cat, then howcum a mere bush hog can cut them at all?

  25. #25
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Smalser View Post
    If Bodark saplings small enuf to mow leave stumps tough enough to throw a track on a Cat, then howcum a mere bush hog can cut them at all?
    If the land was cut over with a bush-hog, and then left to dry out, then yes, a 2" or 2 1/2" stob can throw the tracks.

    The dozer guys insisted managing the clearing of any land, so they could avoid this.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Guitar backs and sides is another use. Some say the tonal characteristics are similar to the rosewoods.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Jerry.....I could use some 1 x 4 pieces, perhaps 3 -4 feet long, whatever would go cheap freight from there to here....hey, maybe you can build that boat yet....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I'll see what I can ship your way for cheap Chuck, do you want it rough sawn, or should I plane it first? verticle grain or flat sawn?

    Jerry

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I once tried to sump an old carpenter with a small piece of Osage orange. "Where'd you get that "bodark" he said. An interesting old guy from Arkansas, said when he was a boy he made money cutting dogwood to be used for shuttles in looms.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Vertical if possible, flat acceptable, planed would be nice, save me a trip to Annapolis or Prince Frederick...a few miles in opposite directions. I have some ball bearing sheaves and wanna do something with them.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  31. #31
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I have never seen it. I ran into a friend today who is excited to have just been gifted 2 small pieces of osage to make a bow for another friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. He said he would love to have more but also said his spokeshave skipped across the shop is a flury of cursing trying to work it.

    I'll have to check it out at the hardwood shop. It sounds interesting.

    Matthew

  32. #32
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerry bark View Post

    Don Z. if you can afford the postage I can send you some turning blanks As I will probably end up with some 4x6 stock from the "seconds" pile. the owner stacks pieces that do not meet the order (for size, quality, bark or whatever) in a pile of seconds where I can buy some nice stock that may have a bad spot or two at stupidly cheap prices (yesterday i got 160 bf of 4/4 red oak for $20), there was a number of 4x6s in that pile yesterday. I'll grab them if they have any decent sections in them, I could get a lot of cleats and mallets out of a couple of those.

    Cheers
    jerry
    Honestly, I re-read what I wrote, and see that it sounds like I was asking, when I was just trying to point out things I'd use it for...

    However, if you do end up with some available, I couldn't thank you enough... I'll PM you...

  33. #33
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    .
    From Wiki --

    "The heavy, close-grained yellow-orange wood is very dense and is prized for tool handles, treenails, fence posts, electrical insulators, and other applications requiring a strong dimensionally stable wood that withstands rot. Straight-grained osage timber (most is knotty and twisted) makes very good bows. In Arkansas, in the early 19th century, a good Osage bow was worth a horse and a blanket." (Pretty clearly someone above was reading this too.) "Additionally, a yellow-orange dye can be extracted from the wood, which can be used as a substitute for fustic and aniline dyes. When dried, the wood has the highest BTU content of any wood, and burns long and hot."

    And as far as bow-making (and etymology) goes --

    "The trees acquired the name bois d'arc, or "bow-wood", from early French settlers who observed the wood being used for war clubs and bow-making by Native Americans. Meriwether Lewis was told that the people of the Osage Nation "esteem the wood of this tree for the making of their bows, that they travel many hundred miles in quest of it." Many modern bowyers assert the wood of the Osage-orange is superior even to English Yew for this purpose, though this opinion is by no means unanimous. The trees are also known as "bodark" or "bodarc" trees, most likely originating from a corruption of "bois d'arc."

    Sounds like a pretty useful timber. If it was readily available here I'd probably be using it for cleats, fairleads, belaying pins, sheaves, and suchlike.

    Mike
    Visit us to see how we help people complete classic boats authentically.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Z. View Post
    Honestly, I re-read what I wrote, and see that it sounds like I was asking, when I was just trying to point out things I'd use it for...

    However, if you do end up with some available, I couldn't thank you enough... I'll PM you...
    I did not take it as asking; got your PM and I am pretty sure I can help you out.

    Jerry

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Hey, Jerry. It looks like I'll be in Starkville over Thanksgiving, and I sure would like to visit that sawmill.

    What do you say?

    John T

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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Jerry's in Michigan, not Mississippi.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan View Post
    Jerry's in Michigan, not Mississippi.
    HA! My mistake!

    Sturgis, MS is about 15 miles from my hometown!



  38. #38
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    So now that I've had one good laugh at myself today, I'd like to ask, Jerry, how many rings per inch are you seeing in the osage orange there in Michigan?

    In the stuff we were getting in Mississippi, it didn't typically get over about 10.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I got really ambitious one year in high school. Pop mechanics or pop science monthly had a design for a crossbow, used a car leaf spring cut down for the bow, a high field lever to cock it. I built it as designed and would whop a quarrel thru a concrete block (3/8ths inch steel rod.....) but the range was really short. Grandad had some Bois d"arc that he made bows and other things from. You could only get thin pieces free from knots. I had read about the Japanese laminated bamboo bows and we decided to make one. It was twice as long as the spring steel bow and almost the same draw weight when finished. It had over 4 times the range and would toss the arrow thru the side of a corrugated steel chikkin house. I got pretty damn good with it out to about 40 yards into a paper plate target...for about 4 months or so when one day I drew the bow, and before I could place the quarrel in place, the bow exploded. I dunno think it liked the glue we used. The high school shop hot glue pot glue............
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
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    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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  40. #40
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?



    Wot? Not WEST system?
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  41. #41
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    So now that I've had one good laugh at myself today, I'd like to ask, Jerry, how many rings per inch are you seeing in the osage orange there in Michigan?

    In the stuff we were getting in Mississippi, it didn't typically get over about 10.

    I let you know soon enough. I am going to go take a good look at the stock tomorrow. I did not take a close look when I was there friday.

    cheers
    jerry

  42. #42
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    Now Larry.....dunno if you know it or not, a squaw is a derogatory term, denoting a woman of low (well used) value.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  43. #43
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    I went and placed an order for what i will be needing. someone had claimed the 4x6s to be added to his order so I could not get them. I told them I would take a00 bf or so, and would take more if it was good quality. we'll see what they have waiting for me this coming friday.

    almost like christmas. . .

    Jerry

  44. #44
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    Default Re: uses for Osage Orange?

    For whatever it's worth, I've experienced joint failures with west system on osage orange. I made the "ultimate" axe handle out of laminated osage and ash. The failure always happened on the surface of the osage. (Difficult to explain). I felt like the wood was too hard to absorb the epoxy to any depth. The handle was very springy, though. Almost too springy to "pop" the axe head loose from the end of the piece being split. The glue joint seemed to come apart from the lengthwise shearing of the laminations. I repaired the failures several times, but I ended up driving over it with a trailer full of firewood and broke the handle all the way through, so I gave up on it. I probably had 18 hrs plus material in it. It was truly beautiful, but I decided to cut my losses. I probably could have bought 5 axe handles and replaced them for the amount of effort I had in this one.

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