White milkwood meels
There is a piece of land close by, that is used for horse riding practice. A white milkwood (Sideroxylon Inerme) is growing on this land. The milkwood appears to be sick, and is shedding branches. I cut two pieces from a fallen branch, and brought them home.
The wood has been compromised by some sort of bark boring insect. Fortunately, most of the damage appears to be superficial.
This is the insect that crawled out of the branch. It flew away before I could photograph it. I found it two days later, after it had shed its feelers and died. I spent some time on the Internet trying to identify it. I think it is Cordylomera Shoenherri, a cerambycid beetle. The two tone legs and feelers are very distinctive. It is the larvae of this beetle that bore tunnels into the wood.
I cut a small test cube from one of the branches. I used a vernier gauge to measure the length, width and height. I weighed it using my precision scale, and calculated the density. It was 0.94! It barely floats in water!
Wooden ice cubes!
The grain and colour are stunning. The wood is so pretty, that I am willing to take the chance that any clubs I make out of it will amount to nothing.
Here are two pieces of worm-riddled white milkwood, on their way to becoming meels. Doesn't look very promising, does it? The meel on the left weighs 5.4 kg, the one on the right is 5.2 kg. Target weight is 3.7 kg each.
The wood is hard and heavy, but surprisingly easy to work. It has a fine tight grain, which planes easily, even when the grain direction is unfavourable. The shavings break easily, which is an indication that the wood cuts cleanly across a grain, rather than the cut propagating along a grain.
The meels beginning to look like organic sculpture!
A few close up shots to show detail
The typical grain of white milkwood. Once you see it, you will never forget it.
White milkwood is popular with another kind of turner as well. These fellows don't turn meels, but they do turn small objects like pens and bowls using their miniature lathes.