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Hi All,

Does anyone know where I can obtain Ebony Strip Wood for second Planking? (I guess 0.5mm thick.)

I'm toying with the idea of starting the Mamoli Flying Cloud.

 

I have also read that Ebony is very difficult to work with.

Is there an alternative to Ebony which has a similar look?

 

Any advice on procurement/cost of Ebony and working with it would be very much appreciated.

 

Cheers....HOF.

 

 

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You might obtain ebony in exotic hardwoods outlets, if you are lucky. It is harder and harder to locate it though. Also, it is stinky expensive! 

I once managed to find it in my local exotic hardware lumber yard (this place doesn't exist anymore), but luckily I then snatched two quite large boards of it. I still have most of it and use it very carefully and sparingly. It is a very dense and heavy wood.

Ebony also is difficult to work with, it is very stiff, springly and hard to bend. Some people are allergic to its dust, so wear a face mask while cutting it and sanding it. Other than that, it is quite similar to boxwood as far as its texture. It cuts, carves and turns nicely, leaves a sharp edge and glues well. 

I once used it for some railings and decorative ornate elements on my French 74 guns. I also turned some deadeyes from it. But for triple wales on my Frenchie I used cherry instead. Cherry heat bends much better than ebony. After preshaping the wales and glueing them onto the frames, I stained them with ebony stain by Varathane. When looking at them and comparing with genuine ebony railings and other details, the wales are virtually indistinguishable as far as color and texture.

 

I am not sure about other ebony stains from different manufacturers, like Minwax and such... It is therefore always a good idea to first test them on a piece of scrap hardwood and see if it meets your expectations.

So, as far as making some details from ebony, that don't have to be bent too much, it is a nice wood to work with, but if you have to significantly bend ebony strips, use other hardwoods instead and stain them, rather than struggling with ebony, provided that you can first locate it locally in your area.

Regards,

Thomas

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It is really hard to bend. I found it easier to 'carve' it into the bent shape as opposed to trying to force it to bend. If you do try to bend it then lots of water and heat and beware of it splintering.

 

Best sources are old furniture/ornaments if you can find them. It is a protected wood so it shouldn't be sold from recently cut down trees..

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Black ebony is nearly commercially extinct at this point. Pure black ebony only comes from the heartwood of very old trees, most all of which are now gone. What little is available is not pure black and full of checks and voids. Real ebony is very oily and presents challenges when gluing.  The prices are astronomical. Ebony is also subject now to various national and international import bans. Some nations will not permit the importation of items made of ebony without acceptable documentation of the age of the wood being prior to the effective date of various endangered species laws. This has caused a lot of musicians with instruments containing ebony and rosewood a lot of grief when they try to bring their instruments into a foreign country to play at concerts. Your only real option is to take another species and stain it black. Some old modelers have stashes of ebony and real European boxwood, but good luck trying to find any on the retail market these days.

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Awesome!!

Thank you all for your sage advice....

 

I'll have a think about things and perhaps revert to the supplied timber and paint/stain.)

 

I had a link to "Guzzman.com Flying Cloud build but cannot locate any longer. (This inspired me in the use of Ebony.)

 

Cheers and Regards,

 

Harry.

 

 

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I have used ebony for wales. Very hard to bend requiring multiple soak and heat cycles. I have a few pieces left saved for future builds and accents such as anchors. The only pieces I have seen in the last few years are single rough boards at extreme prices. There are a lot of really nice types of wood you can use instead.

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2 hours ago, Jim Rogers said:

Boxwood plus Ebony Wood dye (black) will give desired results with less costs and headaches.

 

I have seen members here talk about this as a good solution.  I believe the brand was Fiebing dye and I think it was originally a leather/shoe dye.  It might have been @dvm27 who used this (but I could be wrong🧐)

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Gilmer wood sells ebony as small pieces of lumber and instrument sizes (https://www.gilmerwood.com/search/results?utf8=✓&q=ebony).  I've never seen anyone sell as milled strip wood.  It is very expensive, but model ships don't require very much. 

 

Dyed holly and boxwood look tremendous, but not exactly the same as ebony.  I've used it on wales, deadeyes, spars, deck furniture, and trim.  The dust is a pain, but can be managed with a mask and good vacuum.  It is harder to work with than other woods, but mostly just needs power tools and really sharp hand tools. The biggest challenge is bending - usually requires laminating thin strips, multiple repetitions of heat, and lots of broken pieces and swearing.  In small amounts, I think the appearance is worth the extra work.  I can't imagine what it would be like to try planking a whole model.

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My wood suppler sells ebony

 

https://shop.exotichardwoods.co.uk/african-black-ebony-sawn-board-no-5.html

 

£200 for one small plank of it.  The dust from ebony is also quite toxic too.  If I was in a club where 3 or 4 of us needed some it would be worth it but not for me at this price.  I'll leave it to the guitar builders as lovely as it is.  I too would either dye or paint the wood.

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3 hours ago, dvm27 said:

Actually I use holly with the Fiebings leather dye. Holly bends much easier (especially useful in the wales). But be sure to stain the wood off the model. You can carefully touch it up after installed.

 

This stuff is great. Make sure you use the alcohol based one, the low-VOC version is not as good.

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8 hours ago, dvm27 said:

Actually I use holly with the Fiebings leather dye. Holly bends much easier (especially useful in the wales). But be sure to stain the wood off the model. You can carefully touch it up after installed.

I am not sure if I can get the alcohol version here in the People's Republic of California.  Amazon will not ship it and Michael's only has the water based version.  I may have to get it next time I am in Arizona.

 

Any thoughts?

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Hi All,

Seems like Ebony is a "Bridge to far."

From what has been discussed it it seems almost impossible to obtain, impossible price, (Cost prohibitive), maybe embargoed,  (CITES?) and almost impossible to work with even if you can get the material.... 🙂

 

Maybe "Antique" or Second Hand shops in NZ?

 

I'll keep my eyes open.

 

Cheers and Regards,

 

Harry.

 

 

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1 hour ago, hof00 said:

maybe embargoed,  (CITES?)

 

I can't speak to New Zealand, but here in the States the most desirable ebony is embargoed pursuant to the Lacey Act, 16 USC 3371-3378. 

 

"Gibson Guitar Corporation was raided twice by federal authorities, in 2009 and 2011. Federal prosecutors seized wood from Gibson facilities, alleging that Gibson had purchased smuggled Madagascar ebony and Indian rosewood.Gibson initially denied wrongdoing and insisted that the federal government was bullying them.  In August 2012, Gibson entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the Department of Justice, admitting to violating the Lacey Act. The terms of the agreement required Gibson to pay a fine of $300,000 in addition to a $50,000 community payment, and to abide by the terms of the Lacey Act in the future.

 

For violating the Lacey Act, Lumber Liquidators was sentenced in 2016 to $7.8 million in criminal fines, $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and more than $1.23 million in community service payments for illegal lumber trafficking. The sentence also included five years of probation, and additional government oversight. The U.S. Department of Justice said it was the largest financial penalty ever issued under the Lacey Act.

 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacey_Act_of_1900

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I suspect That Ebony is the subject of more misleading substitution than is Boxwood.   In any case, there is not the profit or social status with ship models as there is with guitars as far as the decoration.

My bias suggests that using one of the Ebony group on a kit upgrade is like doing a high class upgrade in a trailer park.  The quality is evident, but the environment makes the effort a misplaced one.

 

For a substitute, Holly is appropriate,  but the Wood Database lists other species that accept dyes.

This is a situation where slang shorthand can lead to misunderstandings.

A stain - the noun - is a form of semi transparent paint - surface only.  It is pore filling and this makes the product a problem with PVA bonding.  Actual black paint may as well be used.

To stain - the verb - includes the use of the semi transparent paint and also the effect of a dye.

Wood dyes are available from wood working vendors - there are two types - alcohol and water.  The alcohol does not raise the grain,  It also does not penetrate as deeply as water based dyes.

For black, I would think that two treatments should work, with a sanding step after the first treatment to repair the raised grain.  The dye can be used on the loose plank and it will PVA bond as well as if it were not treated.

I have it in mind to try a technique used by a traditional Carolina furniture makes (PBS).  He dissolved a steel wool pad in a quart of vinegar (5% acetic acid) .  He then wet pieces of Maple with a solution of tannic acid and

sanded /scraped the raised grain and then coated it with the iron acetate solution.  The effect was a dense black. 

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17 hours ago, No Idea said:

My wood suppler sells ebony

 

https://shop.exotichardwoods.co.uk/african-black-ebony-sawn-board-no-5.html

 

£200 for one small plank of it.  The dust from ebony is also quite toxic too.  If I was in a club where 3 or 4 of us needed some it would be worth it but not for me at this price.  I'll leave it to the guitar builders as lovely as it is.  I too would either dye or paint the wood.

 

That's actually a reasonable price these days. 38mm thick, 90mm across and 1.3m long.

 

As for the dust being toxic, it's best to regard all wood dust as toxic. Don't inhale any of it.

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Hi James if you don't use these suppliers give them a try. I've just had 8 planks for Castello delivered for a very reasonable price - and they cut them to the thickness that I wanted rather than what was advertised on their website.  They also ran them all through a jointer for me so that I have good edges for my table saw at no extra cost.

 

I agree that actually the ebony you get is a good price - but it would take me two lifetimes to use that much of it so that makes it prohibitive for me.

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I don't know if this helps but I recently put in an order for some 'Black Hornbeam'. I've seen it used by many older European modelers mainly eastern bloc in place of ebony. It's a stable, dyed hornbeam that is pure black through and through and can be finished as sweetly as ebony and easy to work with. This gent here was good enough to send me a piece (still waiting, just ordered) from Moscow. 35cm x 4 x 4 was $8:00 Shipping was double! He uses it for beautiful decorative carvings, jewelry, knife handles etc. https://www.livemaster.com/search.php?searchtype=1&search=black hornbeam My plan is to use  it for my Winchelsea's wales

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I'm using ebony for my Charles Morgan build, and I have to say that I don't find it as difficult to work as people tend to say.  Sure you have to be careful of the dust, but you similarly have to be careful about the dust of many woods you see used in the hobby.  For what it's worth, I've heard that the leather dyes can fade, so you might want to try using black stains if you go that route.  On my Pegasus, I've been using General Finishes stains and the black still looks like the day I applied it.

 

If you're looking to source ebony strip wood, try Matt at Inlay Banding.  He put together a package of ebony for me a couple of years ago at a reasonable cost, dimensioned to what I needed.  

 

https://www.inlaybanding.com

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

If it's any help, Pear wood takes dyes very well. I've found it works better for me than other woods. 

 

I used Fiebing's black leather dye. Soaks it right up and it is blacker than black.

 

You do have to rub it down after it's dry to take off any excess, and that leaves it with a slight, rather nice sheen. Pear wood also works VERY nicely.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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