Eucalyptus trees are famous for their medicinal qualities. The oil extracted from the leaves of this particular hardwood is how we get the eucalyptus essential oil.
But what about this trees lumber? Can eucalyptus wood be used for carving?
It depends on the type of eucalyptus tree. There are over 700 different varieties of eucalyptus tree. However, Eucalyptus grandis, (also known as rose gum), is the variety that is most used for making outdoor furniture, plywood, and poles. However, some other varieties of eucalyptus wood can be fairly brittle once the wood dries. This will cause it to crack, split and twist – making it difficult to carve.
Which means that if you’re working with eucalyptus grandis, this particular variety shouldn’t be a problem to carve. It’s grain is dense enough to make this lumber durable, while still being pliable enough for carving tools.
So, if you have some eucalyptus laying around, keep reading to learn more about this well-known lumber…
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Is Eucalyptus Wood Really Any Good For Woodworking?
Eucalyptus wood is a great choice for a sustainable structural wood. It is strong enough to be used as batten support beams in outdoor structures. And it is durable enough to be trodden on for years as hardwood flooring.
In fact, floorboards made from eucalyptus are up to 20 percent tougher than floorboards made from Red Oak.
Is Eucalyptus Wood Hard Or Soft? This hardwood tree produces pretty hard lumber thanks to its dense straight grain.
So What Are Some Key Eucalyptus Wood Disadvantages?
1. It Can Be Prone To Cracking
Only a few select eucalyptus tree types are good for woodworking.
The Eucalyptus Grandis – a eucalyptus species native to Australia – is clearly a sturdy durable wood. However, its Northern Californian cousin – Blue Gum eucalyptus – is prone to cracking when dried.
The blue gum eucalyptus tree is found commonly growing to over 200 feet tall all around California. This variety of eucalyptus is not good for woodworking or carving. Even if you were able to craft something out of this particular lumber, it would only split apart once the wood dried out anyway.
2. It Can Be Difficult To Stain
One of the advantages of eucalyptus grandis is its water resistance. Its highly oily content lets this wood shrug off damp, moisture, and rain with ease.
However, it also makes this lumber fairly difficult to seal or stain as well. Water-based wood stains don’t stand a chance at evenly penetrating the grain of eucalyptus wood. Basically, any water-based stains, sealers, or paints aren’t going to stick.
So, what can you treat eucalyptus wood with? Well, if you want to add stain-like color to eucalyptus furniture, you will need to use a natural oil finish. A natural oil such as Linseed Oil will darken the wood. Or you can add tone to it by using Danish oil. Apply these oil finishes liberally, and let them really soak in for a while, before wiping off the excess.
3. It Can Shrink As It Dries
This one is a really big disadvantage when it comes to using blue gum eucalyptus wood for furniture making.
Splits and cracks are one thing, but when wood shrinks it can throw off the dimensions of your project.
So that means that as blue gum dries, those wood joints won’t fit as snugly. And screws and fasteners will begin to loosen. All of which adds up to your eucalyptus furniture simply toppling over.
Some Final Thoughts…
At the end of the day, if you can get your hands on some imported Eucalyptus grandis, then you have a pretty nice piece of lumber for carving.
But if you happen to have blue gum eucalyptus tree wood to hand (the variety of eucalyptus found growing around California) then that piece of lumber isn’t going to take carving, chipping, or whittling detail well.