Texas Mesquite Wood
The Tree: Mimosaceae family
The mesquite tree is a hardwood that grows predominately in both
North and South America, although there are some less known members
of this family worldwide. We are most familiar with those found
in the dry areas of Utah, Louisiana and Texas, mesquite wood though
does grow as far south as Venezuela and the Jamaican Islands.
It is a tough and resilient species that grows into a relatively
short tree with crooked limbs and gnarly wood... not exactly a loggers
dream. It grows in very dry soils where others will not take up
residence, and flowers twice a year for the benefit of bees and
the occasional passerby.
The mesquite tree has somewhat of a history of annoyance with many
Texan farmers that tried for years to eliminate this species from
their cultivated fields, only to find that from every tree cut down
the stump would yield another 100 sprouts.
Texas Mesquite, honey locust, honey mesquite, Texas ironwood, western
honey locust, algaroba
Mesquite Lumber is difficult to cut and dry and downgrading
in the process is common, but it does produce a hard and strong
wood with high bending and crushing strengths when successful. It
has a relatively strong grain pattern with some interesting swirls
when you get around the limb buds. It can exhibit some of the traditional
figures such as quilted and fiddleback if you are lucky.
Mesquite lumber can vary significantly in colour depending on the
source ranging from pale straw to medium chocolate or reddy brown
and some with almost a deep purple tinge. Be specific in your requests
if you are trying to match a new wood purchase with say exiting
mesquite wood flooring.
Thinking about the lumber typically sourced in Texas, mesquite
wood is never found in particularly long lengths. Higher grades
are rare and expensive. Mesquite Veneers are equally expensive when
you can find them.
Weight: approx.. 50 pounds per cubic foot
Texas mesquite wood, which is the only kind I have played
with seems to be relatively easy to finish and polishes to quite
a nice sheen. Tried once to put a bit of stain on it and the absorption
seemed to be somewhat uneven thus I'd experiment a little ahead
of time before committing on a nice piece of furniture.
It can be a little difficult to cut with some tension wood
causing binding in the saw so make sure your splitter is installed.
Other than that mesquite wood seems to work in much the same way
as our more common red oak. Pre-drilling is of course essential
and it glued with traditional PVA adhesive with limited difficulties.
If some of you have had more experience then I in using Texas Mesquite
wood, drop me a line or two. I'd love to hear about your experiences
and see pictures of your work.
This has historically been used for everything from farm utensils
to wagon wheels, all items that might be able to capitalize on its
durability and strengths. It also is great as firewood and was used
extensively in black smith shops given its quality burning characteristics.
Now we think of it more in the context of mesquite wood chips for
Today Texas Mesquite Wood is used extensively for
hardwood flooring, again capitalizing on its hardness. It creates
a tough floor that can handle all that life can through at it. A
few companies also persist in using it for some awesome furniture
and of course mesquite cutting boards.