TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - August 2013
Sunday , 30 November 2014 , 10 : 29 AM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
August 2013 Edition
Focus on Wood - Chinaberry

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Chinaberry is a member of the mahogany family of trees and shrubs.  The heartwood of this tree is typically a reddish pink color, occasionally displaying areas of orange, burgundy or brown.  The sapwood is a light yellowish white color.  While these trees are quite common, most specimens which are large enough to be sawn into lumber begin to suffer from internal rot, and/or growth ring separation making them unusable for sawing.  Chinaberry is typically available only in smaller pieces and in limited quantity, although larger pieces do become available from time to time.

Common Name(s):

Chinaberry, white cedar, bead tree, Persian lilac


38 lb/ft3  - Low density


980 lbft - Moderately hard

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

Chinaberry is a pleasure to work with.  It turns very well, even when dry.  Tearout when turning across areas of end grain is moderate.

Drying Properties:

Has a low initial moisture content, and dries quickly compared to many other woods.  Shrinking and warping are both very low, and the wood does not commonly develop cracks or checks.  Overall chinaberry dries very well.

Sanding Properties:

Sands easily.  For removing tool marks, 120  grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a medium-high luster, usually requiring grits no higher than 600 to achieve satisfactory results.  Remember to check the surface of the wood carefully for scratches and defects when switching to a higher grit sandpaper. Careful sanding will yield a smoother surface in the end if care is taken to remove all scratches left from prior stages of sanding.  It is very important to wipe any sanding dust from the wood's surface before changing grits of sandpaper.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts most stains and finishes.


Chinaberry is known to cause skin and respiratory irritations in certain people, but the effects are typically very mild, and quite uncommon.

Turning Tutorials - Finishing Techniques for Figured Wood

Finishing Techniques for Figured Wood

Figured woods are a beautiful thing to behold.  Curl, quilt, burl, and all manner of other types of unusual growth patterns can be quite magnificent.  When finished properly, these woods can be made even better.  Once you have your piece turned and sanded, go through the steps below to really make the figure stand out in your piece.

Supplies You Will Need -

Water-based wood dye, such as an an aniline dye found in woodworking retail shops.
Do not use penetrating wood stains from the hardware store, as they do not work as well.
Choose a color that will enhance (or at least not detract from) the natural color of the wood.

Lint-free cloth

600 grit sandpaper

  1. Begin by applying the dye to the surface of the wood with a lint-free cloth.  Once the dye has dried satisfactorily, wipe the remaining residue from the wood surface.
  2. Before the wood dye has been allowed to fully dry, use some 600 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the wood.  The idea here is that the water contained within the dye will have lightly raised the fibers at the wood's surface.  The fibers within the figured areas of the wood will raise unevenly, and a very light sanding will cause the figure to stand out in a more pronounced manner.
  3. Once finished sanding, be sure to wipe away all surface dust to prepare your piece for finishing.
  4. Finish with an oil-based finish, alcohol-based finish, or wax.  The harder, surface building finishes tend to enhance the appearance further

This technique may require some practice to achieve the best results.  Making sure to not sand the piece too heavily after dyeing will ensure that the dye that is applied remains even across the wood's surface. 

All archived monthly newsletters do not include the following:

  • Business updates
  • Recently added woods and schedule of upcoming woods
  • Photo of the month contest results
  • Discounts and upcoming sales information

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