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Mark P

Boxwood and how to get it

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Greetings everyone;

 

I just thought that my experience with obtaining boxwood may be of interest to some other members.

 

I live in the countryside,  and I have mentioned to friends and acquaintances that I am interested in obtaining supplies of boxwood.

 

This paid off for me in Autumn 2014,  when one of them told me that he knew a gardener on a large country estate,  who was felling a couple of box trees and had offered to let me have the wood (even better,  FOC,  though I gave him something)

 

Naturally,  I bit his hand off,  and carted them off home.  I had to band-saw them down and then put the planks into sticks to season,  but it was well worth the time and effort.

 

However,  this set me to thinking,  and I contacted a very large country estate not too far away,  and soon discovered that they had a whole plantation of box trees,  and I could take some away at the cost of about £33 per 100kg! (220lbs for our friends over the Pond)  All I had to do was mark the trees,  and they would fell them for me to collect (I can tell you one thing,  fresh-felled boxwood is incredibly heavy for its size)

 

Soon there were more planks in sticks,  drying out.

 

Then today,  another contact,  a gardener on another country estate,  called me,  and said that he had just felled a box tree,  and would I like to take the logs away.  Needless to say,  these are now in my shed awaiting ripping down.

 

So I now have a good supply of boxwood seasoning,  and although none of the planks are lumber sized,  and many are quite small,  I anticipate a use for most.  Another plus is that I can take advantage of curved logs (and boxwood has many of them!) to band-saw them up in a way that gives me compass timber,  which will be very useful. 

 

So if anyone is looking for boxwood,  try spreading the word,  or contacting some nearby estates,  and you may be successful.

 

Happy modelling!

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P

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Boxwood rulers! Boot sales and jumbles are a good source. The older the better. If you can find old printers blocks, great stuff. It's surprising what's lurking about.

A simple plane can cut lovely planks from the edge of a ruler. Sharp tools or none at all.

Looking at period models in museums made of Box and comparing the rubbish kit supplied open grain hardwoods.....I rest my case. Of course other woods have their uses but Box is surely the 'King' in this hobby.

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First post.

I totally agree with shipman. Boxwood rules are great and do not forget the 'lead dressers tools'. These used to be fair sized lumps of boxwood.

I also suggest that the old spools and reels  from woolen and cotton mills (if you can find them!)

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Got this from Wikipedia..... 

 

The boxes are native to western and southern Europe, southwest, southern and eastern Asia, Africa, Madagascar, northernmost South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, with the majority of species being tropical or subtropical; only the European and some Asian species are frost-tolerant. Centres of diversityoccur in Cuba (about 30 species), China (17 species) and Madagascar (9 species).

 

Buxus sempervirens, the common boxEuropean box, or boxwood, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Buxus, native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia, from southern England south to northern Morocco, and east through the northern Mediterranean region to Turkey.[1][2][3] Buxus colchica of western Caucasus and B. hyrcana of northern Iran and eastern Caucasus are commonly treated as synonyms of B. sempervirens.[4][5]

 

Edited by ASAT

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Interesting bit of trivia I came across once and have never been able to find it again to investigate further:

 

I read somewhere that fairly large pieces of boxwood were used in the manufacture of a particular tool used by artillerymen, a barrel rammer or cleaner or something. Boxwood's properties made it essential for the manufacture of this tool. Around the turn of the last century, when the clouds of war loomed over Europe, there was a "boxwood rush" as soon to be warring nations cut all the boxwood they could lay their hands on and virtually stripped Europe clean of harvestable boxwood. As it is so slow-growing, boxwood has been hard to come by ever since. 

 

I have not been able to follow up on this because i can't seem to find the original piece where I read it. I could have dreamed it for all I can say now. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

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Bob,

I have not read that one before,  but it seems to reflect the reality of the situation, if not the actual cause.  Buxus sempervirens seems to have been loved to death.

The imp on my shoulder  prods me to make a glib answer = for enough Buxus to provide frame timbers for a large scale multi deck vessel,  a Wayback machine is probably needed.

I recall reading that Harold Hahn had acquired a supply.  But he was mostly 1:96.   The strength is helpful in the miniature or semi-miniature scales, fur suure.

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BOB,

 

just found this:-

 

''Then the high explosives were put into shells.

It was noted: “This is done by women workers.

“It is done firstly by hand, with the use of a boxwood rammer, and finally

under hydraulic pressure.”

 

Presumably boxwood was hard enough to be durable as a tool and wouldn't create sparks.  See below.

 

https://www.nwemail.co.uk/features/nostalgia/16458441.king-visits-barrow-shipyard-and-morecambe-shell-filling-factory-in-1917/

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8 hours ago, shipman said:

''Then the high explosives were put into shells.

It was noted: “This is done by women workers.

“It is done firstly by hand, with the use of a boxwood rammer, and finally

under hydraulic pressure.”

That's it!  God only knows why I had been reading that article, or how I ever would have come across it, but there it is. Yep. they used up all the boxwood that was large enough to turn a rammer that fit inside a heavy artillery shell. Boxwood doesn't grow that big and takes forever to do so when it does. We're still waiting for the post-WWI boxwood to grow that big,  One guess as to why boxwood might be that it is so tightly grained and hard, the powder didn't work its way into the wood. Knowing the British Government, there's probably a "mil-spec" for boxwood rammers and perhaps some studies on it in an archive somewhere.

 

Actually, what we really need is some GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) boxwood, modified to grow ten times as fast and in the worst of conditions.

 

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On 9/17/2019 at 6:53 AM, Bob Cleek said:

Actually, what we really need is some GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) boxwood, modified to grow ten times as fast and in the worst of conditions.

 

If wood grows fast, it means low density - just a question of metabolism and thermodynamics, regardless of species  ...

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As long as we are exercising a fantasy,  Faster growth means wider rings,  does this not affect density?

A GMO may be unnecessary and more likely to yield form over substance as a product, which is what advertising and

wishful thinking gets us now. . I think it makes for a higher probability of success for someone far in the future if 

lots of lands was set aside for the arbor culture of Buxus simpervirens cultivars that grow straight and tall, and are not 

palatable to aphids, chomping insects,  fungii, in an eco environment with mixed species to discourage the establishment of

Buxus dedicated  persistent parasite populations.  The time necessary until harvest makes close attention to growing conditions uneconomical. 

More likely would be Bush Hogging the weeds every 5-10 years as all the attention. it gets.  Otherwise, it is plant and forget.

However, looming just off stage :

 a probable environment higher in CO2 and warmer in many regions.  Plants that like that will grow faster and for a longer part of the annual period.

This may reduce the density.  Unfortunately,  milder winters mean that pest species will be culled less and others will migrate from warmer climes.

If all that goes well,  just wait a couple hundred years and we are set  -  presupposing the coming system changes leave a population able to utilize the wood..

 

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2 hours ago, wefalck said:

If wood grows fast, it means low density - just a question of metabolism and thermodynamics, regardless of species  ...

Of course. I was kidding when I wrote that. Perhaps I should have attached a "smiley." It's one of the limitations of internet communications. :D

 

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On 9/16/2019 at 2:53 PM, Vane said:

Where in the world does boxwood grow? 

In south of sweden they are popular in gardens as hedges or topiaries. It's called "Buxbom" in swedish, but you probably already knew all that. 😉

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Buchsbaum or whatever it called in your language is very common as hedges and these fancy trimmed shrubs. Usually, however, they are too small to be useful for our purposes.

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Boxwood is also common in the US for the same reason. My neighbor has a little hedge of them for the past 19 years anyway and they keep them4 feet tall and very bush. Nothing that one could harvest for even very small lumber..

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There are a significant number of cultivars (varieties) of Buxus simpervirens.  They range from low and wide to tall and thin.  Complicating the subject for the US - a different species altogether = Buxus microphylla , is commonly used for garden purposes.  Also, the variety of Buxus s. most common here in the original colony region, "English" boxwood, is not likely to serve our purposes.  A shallow Web search returned a number of choices for cultivars.  None seem to focus on selecting a variety with a tall straight trunk with few lower branches.  This would be counter to what is wanted in a garden.  There must have been reasons growing such a variety in southern Europe at one point and perhaps a lucky individual could still find a plant or two to harvest.  I do not know the member data for this site,  but I suspect that few of us would come close to still being alive when a Buxus s. of a desired variety, planted today was large enough for harvest.

 

Calycophyllum multiflorum  is not Buxus s.  the Boxwood moniker applied to it is the product of advertising.  It is not what the Old Boys used.  While it is hard and yellow with indistinct grain and all but invisible pores,  it seems to be a species that does not sustain a significant commercial demand. 

 

Although the social pressure to use the "hot" species is all but impossible to resist,  it may be kinder to a budget to use a species that is domestic and commercial where you live.  Or,  if you have a chainsaw, a large band saw, and drying shed, you can obtain excellent wood on the hoof that is desirable but not commercial.   Be advised that my direction for viewing this is larger scale (1:60) POF.  The volume of wood used in framing timbers is a large one,  especially for a two decker or larger.  Adding to the pain = it seems like 50% winds up as saw dust.

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I had the good luck to salvage over 100 pieces of European Boxwood from a container of "firewood" several years ago. Lengths ranging from 8" to 10" with diameters from

.75" to 2.75". Have used some of it on my HMS Cheerful and intend to plank my current HMS Speedwell build with it. Not bothered about any wastage as it cost me nought :D

 

Dave :dancetl6:

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