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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY Texas Mesquite Wood

texasMesquiteWood

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.

Other Names:
Texas Mesquite, honey locust, honey mesquite, Texas ironwood, western honey locust, algaroba

Wood Description:
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

Finishing:
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.

Machining:
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.

Uses:
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 the barbecue.

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.

 


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007