Masur birch alternaitves?

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M_Chavez

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Hi All,

I'm wondering if there's any good alternatives to masur birch? I'd like a similar look for one of my next chess sets - light colour with light figure & marbling pattern, but the stuff seems to be crazy expensive.
Maple burr comes to mind, but is it easy to turn, is it stable, and can it hold fine details?
Birdseye maple - never turned it, but it tends to be a nightmare to work with hand tools.

I'm down to considering olive (potentially, too much figure for this particular project) or checkte viga - different colour, but similar light figure/colour streaks look. Both great to turn.

Any other wood suggestions?

Thanks.
 

Phil Pascoe

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London plane? Most of it isn't this highly figured.
DSC01986.JPG
 

Linus

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Maple is fine as is London plane albeit dark. If light wood is needed even sycamore has its beauty with the right bits. I think you need to catch the wood in the right plane to show off the medullary rays to best effect. You can get different displays from both quartersawn and flatsawn product. I have had some lovely pattern from ordinary willow, not a commonly turned wood but cheap as chips! ( See picture)
1646046976098.jpeg
 

J-G

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Once you've used Masur Birch I doubt that you will be satisfied with any alternative :D

Don't even think about using Snakewood for the Black pieces !!! :eek:
 

M_Chavez

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Is Masur birch really that good?
London plane sounds good - haven't thought about that one! Any UK suppliers?

I've used snakewood on my previous set, but it wasn't dark enough, so I ended up staining it black. ;)

Talking about black, I'll probably go for Indian rosewood. Tempting to treat myself to cocobolo, but I believe it loses colour in a few years, and the cost is a lot higher than IRW.
 
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J-G

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I've used snakewood on my previous set, but it wasn't dark enough, so I ended up staining it black. ;)
Ouch!! - I must assume that you didn't find the finest Snakewood then. It can be quite variable but the best, that does have the 'Snake' figuring, is very dark - certainly as dark as Cocobolo.

I haven't had any of the Cocobolo that I've worked lose its colour - the oldest would be at least 15 years.
 

M_Chavez

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Just kidding about snakewood - never held the stuff in my hands. Only know one chap who worked with it once and said he didn't think it was worth the money and he didn't like it... The customer loved it though.
I thought African blackwood was very hard to work? I'm sure I've had a couple sticks lying around.

I've got some IRW, so it will be the "cheap" option. Ziricote, cocobolo are the "fancy" alternatives I guess.
I've never tried marblewood - any experience with that one?
 

Lefley

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Ouch!! - I must assume that you didn't find the finest Snakewood then. It can be quite variable but the best, that does have the 'Snake' figuring, is very dark - certainly as dark as Cocobolo.

I haven't had any of the Cocobolo that I've worked lose its colour - the oldest would be at least 15 years.
Snakewood will crack just looking at it. I’ve had people make really high end wood turnings to come pack in a week and it’s cracked top to bottom. Nasty stuff.
 

Lefley

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Snakewood will crack just looking at it. I’ve had people make really high end wood turnings to come back in a week and it’s cracked top to bottom. Nasty stuff.


.African blackwood is my favourite to turn, can do finials to a #1/16 thick if you wanted to. It cuts beautifully, and finishes like glass. Wish all wood turned like it.
 
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Phil Pascoe

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What is box like to turn so can't visualize what blackwood is like to turn :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
You've not turned box? I'm surprised. It's what good quality white chess pieces are made of - it takes fine detail beautifully. Blackwood is very similar, almost like it isn't really wood. A little goblet, blackwood and silver -
DSC02140.JPG
 
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M_Chavez

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I never turned box either.
Looks plain to me.

Found the stick of African blackwood - need a few more to get a chess set, but it's an option. It will have less figure than IRW though, wouldn't it?
Surprised that blackwood turns well - in my mind, the stuff is probably approaching aluminium in term of hardness!

I'd say olive is my favourite so far.
I've only turned ash, cherry, bubinga, irw, chackte viga, yellowheart and black chakate to date.
 

J-G

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Snakewood will crack just looking at it. I’ve had people make really high end wood turnings to come pack in a week and it’s cracked top to bottom. Nasty stuff.
I quite agree that it has its own agenda - but I certainly wouldn't apply 'Nasty' to its description. The prime use to which its appearance is paramount is in Violin (et. al.) Bows. I've only used very small amounts for box finials and inlays so have not experience 'cracking', though I have heard such reports from different sources.
 

Dalboy

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You've not turned box? I'm surprised.

Never needed anything like it but I know from others it takes a thread well. You would have thought that with the length of time I have been turning I would have tried it but alas no not yet. I do have some blackwood which has sat in my store for ages but still have not got around to turning it
 

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