Red gum comes from the heartwood portions of the sweet gum tree. Most sweet gum trees only display a small amount of the heartwood color, so high quality specimens are quite uncommon.
Red gum, heart gum, sweet gum, satin walnut
34 lb/ft3 - Moderately dense
850 lbft - Moderately soft
Extremely easy to turn. Cuts very well, even once dried. Has a slight tendency to tear out across end grain portions when turning.
Dries relatively quickly, but does have a tendency to warp moderately. Lightly colored sapwood has a much higher initial moisture content than the multi-colored heartwood, and can cause wood to warp in unusual ways. Although leaving the sapwood in pieces for contrasting color can be appealing, it is recommended that most of it be removed during turning to improve drying results. The wood has very little tendency to check or crack under most conditions.
Sands well. For removing tool marks, 80 grit sandpaper is recommended. Will sand to a medium high luster, requiring grits of around 400-600 to achieve excellent results. As this wood is somewhat soft, best results will be achieved when care is taken to thoroughly removed sanding scratches from prior grits of sandpaper, then wiping the surface before moving up to the next higher grit.
Readily accepts nearly any type of finish or stain, although stains are not typically used due to the wood's natural vibrant colors. This wood tends to darken to a medium brownish color with age, primarily due to exposure to UV light. To ensure that your turnings retain their original color for longer periods of time, avoid oil and wax finishes. Using hard finishes, such as laquer, shellac, varnish or polyurethane are encouraged, and UV-inhibiting marine finishes and spar varnishes are even better.
Although very uncommon, the sawdust from red gum can cause moderate skin irritations in some persons.
Most people would never know that many common woods are reactive to the wavelengths of light emitted by black lights. These colors are usually still visible beneath a finish placed on the wood, however, shellac can emit a bright orange color under black light, which makes viewing difficult. We've limited the following list to include only the domestic species which we carry from time to time, but there are many other exotic species which provide a variety of colors under black light exposure as well.
Black Locust - Bright green
Honey Locust - Bright green
Kentucky Coffeetree - Bright yellowish green
Mimosa - Streaked green patterns
Monkeypod - Light yellow with green streaking
Osage Orange - Streaked yellow patterns
Redbud - Streaked green patterns
Shining Sumac - Light yellow
Smooth Sumac - Light yellow
Staghorn Sumac - Heartwood has mixed patterns of green, sapwood appears as light purple or blue
Sweetbay Magnolia - Light yellow
Yellowwood - Mixture of light yellows and blues