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Haven't posted much in awhile, and its because I haven't accomplished much. Not that I haven't been working. I have a nice piece of white oak thats coming along well, but the hard carving has been w. a piece of American hornbeam, aka ironwood, aka muscle wood. The piece is between 1.24 & 1.5 inches thick, and currently 50" long. Weighs about 1.5 pounds. Looking at the rings, it appears that the handle area was about 20 years old. Very slow growth.

It is hard, and tough, and most of my knives are useless w. it. I've used some small palm gouges, but most of the work has progressed from very coarse rasps down to diamond files and then to abrasive papers.

There are 2 things that make going slow. I want to preserve as much of the natural "muscle" fiber shapes. In the case of this stick, its more like bundles of tendons. Gouging, rasping and then sanding along the grain has a tendency to pull up the short fibers that make up the wood structure. Each pass along the grain tends to reveal yet another layer of coarse fiber.

The other odd thing is the wood color. When I first found the piece, there was a large, strange knot half in it. I cut lots of that out to see if it was too deep. In the process, In stripped some of the bark nearby. (curiously, the knot was unlike anything I've seen. It was a lump of crusty wood about the size and shape of a large thumb. Did not look like there had been a branch there, but that the wood grew pushing against something.)

After cutting away most of the knot, I put the stick aside for a few years. When I got around to cutting away the rest of the bark a few months ago, I found that the freshly revealed wood was a pale brown, but that the bare spot was quite white. When I cut deeply into the wood to make the handle, I found the wood was quite white. Perhaps the wood bark stained the inner wood while drying. I am finding that the wood does tend to go toward a pale tan with time. At present, the stick looks odd. Portions are white, others, streaky brown. I'm inclined to try and take it all down to near white, but I hate to think of the time that will take.

The pics I'm attaching show 3 things. A close up of the top of the handle portion, almost finished. Human body Comfort Sculpture Wood Fashion accessory

A shot of the plug I carved to fit into the knot hole. The plug is about and inch long. I cut a slice from the foot of the stick, and carved it down to fit the hole, which I also carved to make more regular. Probably close to 6 hours of work, and another to go to finish. Brown Wood Natural material Automotive wheel system Artifact

The last shot is of one of the very few small knots along the stick shaft, showing it and the "tendon: structure. Wood Hardwood Plank Trunk Table

Despite the difficulty, I really would like to find more. It looks good, can have an almost ivory like finish just by sanding, and feels really strong.
 

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It looks like it will turn out to be a great stick! I found some saplings on my farm last spring -- I didn't even know that we had any American hornbeam on the property! I still haven't found a parent tree, but they do make tough sticks!
 

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Top of handle - a great form!

Thanks for the photos!
 
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