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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:03 pm 
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I've always wondered why nobody ever mentions using lignum vitae to make a flute? Seems to me if one wanted something impervious to moisture, or splitting or for protecting ones's self with during a pub brawl, it would be just the ticket.

Only downside I can think of would be its weight (heavy!!) and that it is so hard that it has to be worked as if it were a metal.

I first saw it many years ago when I was working for a hardwood dealer in San Francisco. What we had came from Central America I believe, and was imported in its original short log form. It was a dark olive green with white sapwood (and not much of that!) and we sold it to be used to make propeller shaft bearings for the local commercial fishing boats, a use for which it was particularly suited for because it is as hard and abraision- resistant as metal, rust-proof (of course) and contains an oil that helps lubricate the shaft.

Historic note: For these reasons, lignum vitae was the also the material of choice for the U.S. Navy's propeller shaft bearings a hundred years ago. A piece of lignum vitae from one of the batteship[USS Oregon's propeller shaft bearings was made into the head of a gavel and presented to the local chapter of the S.A.R. I used it many times myself when I was chapter president .ed many times when I was chapter. This specimen is a beautiful walnut brown. But I also own a piece about 7"
long and 1.5" square which is nearly 60 years old, and it is the dark browinsh green color I described.

mal


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:44 pm 
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http://www.earlyflute.com/pages/flutewoods.htm
"(~1800) In Tromlitz [2] we find (Translation A. Powel)

They (flutes) are made of various woods, such as boxwood, ebony, grenadilla, lignum vitae and the like. Those of boxwood give a pleasant but rather weak tone; they are the most durable; those of ebony, grenadilla etc. are brighter and stronger, though they require a firm and well focused embouchure. The lignum vitae also gives a good tone, but in my experience has to o little elasticity and is more subject to cracking than other woods."

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:05 pm 
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I had a favorite flute out of it that took a high polish. Unfortunately it took forever to warm up. Also warped more than any other wood I tried, becoming about 1/8" out of round. Might have just been the piece I had was not fully cured.

Eugene Lambe once told me that when heated up during turning this stuff gives off gasses that makes one "high" - by destroying brain cells.

Casey

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:02 am 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Eugene Lambe once told me that when heated up during turning this stuff gives off gasses that makes one "high" - by destroying brain cells.

Casey


Kool... :boggle:

I had a piece of the stuff, everyone told me that it cracked easily, so I never made a flute out of it. I thought a green flute would have been intersting.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:34 am 
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Glenn Schultz made a few whistles from it. I dunno how durable they were, because the one I wanted was bought before I asked about it.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:01 pm 
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Casey Burns wrote:

Eugene Lambe once told me that when heated up during turning this stuff gives off gasses that makes one "high" - by destroying brain cells.

Casey


There you go the friction caused by turning heats up the wood, the gas is produced, and the maker can't finish because he/she is too high. :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:15 pm 
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Yeah, I had a LV whistle from Glenn. It was a beauty. I think BOisvert is making pipes and whistles out of it lately.
It polishes up like glass.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:26 am 
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Yup, looks nice, until it cracks, and it will crack: vH used LV for a time, years ago, and found that virtually every instrument made from the stuff eventually split. It might be okay for pipes, where moisture isn't going directly into the bore, but I'm not certain. I know that some woods, like Thai Boxwood, work fine for pipes, but crack like crazy when used for flutes, whistles, recorders, etc. Could be that LV is the same way, but I don't know any pipe makers who have had LV sets out there long enough to judge.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:11 am 
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It's a traditional wood used for northumbrian smallpipes, but of course those are low-moisture bellows pipes. I don't have any firm data on the longevity of pipes made with LV, but I certainly haven't heard that "all" of them will split sooner or later.

It does seem counterintuitive that a wood used for ship bearings would be prone to splitting, but maybe it's better at immersion than periodic dampening and drying?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:50 pm 
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Immersion does do fairly a good job of preventing things from drying out.... :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:59 am 
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I've had good luck turning LV, but I've had to permeate the stuff with high-molecular-weight polyethelene glycol (PEG 1000). This is fancy and expensive antifreeze, has some ugly toxic properties; I'm pretty sure that I'd never want to put it in my mouth.

What's out there in terms of wood-stabilizers?

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