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This is a question for all the wood experts out there as my knowledge is very limited . I recently removed mahogany windows from my fathers house which could be 40 years old and although some parts are rotten (,the reason for replacing them ) most is as sound as the day it went in . It seems very fine grained and redish in color although this may be the result of countless coats of varnish etc over the years . Could this be used for ship modeling ,planks, posts etc  or is it the wrong type of mahogany ???  Also about 2 years ago i had reason to cut down a large oak tree which has been stored in lengths and blocks in a shed which means it has been kept dry  , is this usable or does it need more intense drying ?? I don,t want to waste time cutting it into useable lengths if it is not suitable ,also i may have to buy a saw especially for the purpose . All opinions welcome 

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There are several species of wood that go by mahogany. 40 years is not that long ago as far as substitutes for the traditional species of mahogany being slipped in, so based on name alone, it would be difficult to determine just which species it is.

 

As far as modeling use,  both Oak and Mahogany are open pore and the grain of Oak does not scale down to 1:50 - 1:100 range all that well.  If you intend to seal and paint, both are suitable for frame structures, planking, deck structures.  You would need to fill the pores before the finish paint to get a smooth finish.

 

If you are contemplating harvesting and being your own sawyer and millwright, I offer the following:

 

A band saw is much better suited to get from round stock to finished planks. Just make sure the motor is powerful enough - 1.5 HP at least. 

In general it takes 1 year for a 1 inch thick plank to air dry.  So If you get round stock into 2 inch billets, it is ready to use in 2 years.

If you intend to go traditional POF with as much natural wood as possible,  Investigate which species of wood are grown in Northern Ireland.  You want closed pore, hard, tight grain and if possible low contrast between Spring and Summer bands.

Fruit wood - Apple, Pear, Plum, Crab Apple, are ideal.

Maple is excellent and what you call Sycamore, is a member of the maple family (Acer).  In North America - what we call a Sycamore, is in an entirely different family and has a less desirable grain pattern.  

I am guessing that there is a history of formal gardens where you are. You may be able to get some Buxus sempervirens (real boxwood).

There are species of smaller trees that grow in your hedgerows - not large enough to be commercial product, but certainly worth your  time and exploration.

Beech and Birch are usable species and may be available from local hardwood sellers.

Edited by Jaager
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thanks Jaager , Thats a lot of usefull info and enough to wet my appetite that further down the line i may be able to provide at least some of my own wood  .As for the oak i assume  the sooner i try to cut it into smaller pieces the quicker it will dry , the mahogany is already in aprox 4x4 pieces so i guess i could try it through a band or table saw and see what i finish with. Can beech and birch also be dried naturally the same as oak ???

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Recycling old wood is actually a very good idea and works well as a source of modelling timber - providing, of course, you can mill it to size.

 

A good source is old furniture.  Not the multi thousands on pounds or dollars stuff from your local antique store, but broken and dishevelled pieces from a junk shop.  Choose a nice cheap piece of broken furniture mad from good, close grained wood and hey, presto! a goodly supply of well seasoned wood for you.

 

John

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I have some timber from USS Constitution that were removed from the ship in her 1970's and 1990's refits.  I have no idea when they were originally installed.  A few MSW members are recycling pieces of the ship into their builds.

 

I am really looking forward to getting some of the white oak plank material for the next refit.

 

Regards,

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Almost any wood can be air dried, Birch and Beech, I am pretty confident can be.

The main one that I know to be a problem is Holly.  There is an extremely aggressive fungus - Blue Mold - that can invade the green wood faster than it air dries.  This species needs to be kiln dried. 

A kiln is just a hot box with an exhaust function to remove the water vapor. Since we are not making full size furniture, the size of the pieces can be what cabinet makers think is scrap and cutoffs.  The temp and exhaust rates can be much more forgiving with smaller pieces.  End grain still needs to be sealed to reduce checking, but that is also the situation with air drying.

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Paraffin, latex paint, oil based paint, varnish, shellac, polyurethane finish,  just something to keep water from leaving the wood from the cut ends of the fiber straws instead of the sides.  Wood preservative would probably be very bad. 

Wood really is like a bundle of soda straws.  The function of the straws is to transport water.  Water leaves so much more rapidly from the cut ends than thru the sides of the straws that stresses develop from uneven water loss and the wood cracks and splits (checking).  What you want to do is block the open ends.  Keep an eye on the painted ends and reapply the coating if checking starts to occur.

I think bowing and twisting is more a function of the plane of the cut of the billets -  with quarter sawn being less prone to this and  every species of tree having its own degree of amount.  Leaving the wood as a log to dry - there would be much less bowing and twisting of the final planks, but a much longer drying time and often much more checking and splitting - sometimes making it difficult to get anything useful.

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Been trying cutting a piece of the oak and was wondering if going by the pics anyone can tell me if this looks like suitable wood or am i wasting my time continueing with this idea  . Would 6"x2"and as long as possible  be a good size to leave the blocks for drying ? Stored indoors could they be ready for use in a couple of years ?

 

post-7919-0-86575000-1424877202_thumb.jpg

 

this is the rough piece i cut them from ,the cut blocks are only about 6" long . the fungus talked about earlier can be clearly seen on the rough log .

 

post-7919-0-09054800-1424877476_thumb.jpg

 

Tried  cutting as fine a piece as possible to see if it would work with the band saw  Got 0.63 first try and recon wnen cleaned could be 0.5 . didn,t think this would work on a band saw ?

 

post-7919-0-50414500-1424877725_thumb.jpg

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2 x 6 billets should be just fine and should be dry in 2 years.  You can get a low end moisture meter (4 pin) from Amazon for under $20, if you wish to be sure.  

1/4 inch scale is 1:48.  6 inches x 48 = 288 inches or 24 feet at high end scale.   Much longer than that would be a lot of work to handle in a shipyard.  The way I imagine it: when really long , large trees were available, the saws were human powered.  When steam or water powered saws were developed, the big trees were long gone.

So, a 12 inch long billet would yield a 48 foot long board for a high end (museum) scale model.  At this scale, a model tends to be 3-5 feet long, which is OK if you live in a mansion.

 

The longest stock I store is 16 inches.  Not too heavy,  not too long to saw, band or table, with no help.

 

As for the Oak itself,  except for the scale of the grain and the pores,  the other characteristics (hardness, tight grain, etc) are excellent for model use.  It is certainly hard enough to make it difficult to over do a single cut using chisels, files, knives, sanders, etc.  You will not be scroll cutting at a rapid rate either.

 

Before you start on a model, I advise you to get some Apple, Pear, Maple, Birch, Beach  (if you were in North America, I would add Black Cherry, Hard Maple, Yellow Poplar)  and cut it and compare to Oak - think of the scale effect.

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Thanks Jaager , you have been a great help . As you will have realised i know nothing about the different woods ,my only experience is with bought strips . What i have been thinking of are some of the fantastic POF builds i have seen and am assuming that these require larger pieces of wood than the normal kits ,.Even on my present build i am constantly glueing 2 pieces together to get the required width or thickness and thought that milling my own wood would be a good way to practice a scratch build , Of cource i could buy the timber required and as you advise i should probably try some of the others before spending to much time on the oak even if i do have a shed full of it .Will try to source some others locally as it will be a couple of years before i,m ready to start . It was just a thought that i couldn,t leave .!!   Cheers .

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POF- Plank on Frame actually uses fairly small individual components.  The goal is to simulate prototype construction in scale.  The largest pieces tend to be made up of subunits (keel, stem, frames) .  There are many books and articles (some original, some secondary sources) showing how this was done.

POB - Plank on Bulkhead ( actually plank on mold as in the wooden ship era, only Chinese ships had actual bulkheads ) the molds are large - usually plywood - everything else is pretty much the same as POF.  If you wish to scratch build in POB style, you could make your molds from the Oak - either straight out pieces, or band saw veneer slices and laminate alternate grain layers to make your own plywood. 

The building style that uses large pieces of wood is Solid Hull.  An Oak solid hull would be strong. But man! - the work in carving Oak instead of White Pine or Basswood/Linden....

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Almost any wood can be air dried, Birch and Beech, I am pretty confident can be.

The main one that I know to be a problem is Holly.  There is an extremely aggressive fungus - Blue Mold - that can invade the green wood faster than it air dries.  This species needs to be kiln dried. 

A kiln is just a hot box with an exhaust function to remove the water vapor. Since we are not making full size furniture, the size of the pieces can be what cabinet makers think is scrap and cutoffs.  The temp and exhaust rates can be much more forgiving with smaller pieces.  End grain still needs to be sealed to reduce checking, but that is also the situation with air drying.

One way to treat small pieces of wood subject to fungus problems is to microwave them.  No water is needed, just put the wood into the microwave and let it run long enough to heat the wood evenly.  Don't try this with wood that is soaking wet because you might get an explosion from the interior water expanding.  Generally I find that cutting the wood into ~1" thick slabs and waiting until the wood is not obviously wet works best.  Keep an eye on the wood as it is heating and don't let it get over heated as it will mostly likely start cracking.

 

BTW just because a piece of wood gets a fungus stain doesn't mean it is worthless.  Depending on what you are going to use it for the stain can be covered with paint or in some cases actually contribute to the effect you are looking for.

Edited by grsjax
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