View Full Version : New or unusual Materials to cut on your Shopbot

07-29-2002, 10:43 PM
The other day I inquired at the local "real" lumber yard about getting some vertical grain redwood. They called their supplier while I was waiting, and flat out told me it's no longer available.

I then asked about vertical grain cedar. He called his cedar supplier and was told "The best we can do is send you a bunch of wood and some of it might be vertical grain but it will be mixed with flat grain."

So then he asks me if I've ever tried PAULOPE.
Huh? What is PAULOPE (he pronounced it "pah lupey"). Well he says, it's a rainforest lumber.

So I said I hadn't ever seen it or heard of it and he shows me a little sample piece that's about .5" x6" and it looks a lot like walnut or mahogany. Hmmmm this might be interesting.

I asked him if he could find out what it costs - I may want some to make a sample sign that I can take around and use as a sales piece.

He tells me to call back the next day and he'd have a price for me. He thought it might be around the same price as redwood - $14.00 a LINEAR FOOT. YIKES!

Anyways I call him 2 days later and he says "I've got a free sample piece of wood for you." FREE I said - hey that's great! SO I go there, expecting to get a piece of wood that's maybe a 2"x10" by maybe six inches.

I then see the guy struggling behind the counter to lift this piece of wood... it's a 2"x10" alright but it's FOUR FEET long! NIIICE FREE SAMPLE!
The supplier said to give it to me so I could see how I like it, in hopes that I'll use it for lots of signs or whatever.

It's very heavy. So heavy that I'd hesitate to use it for a large sign unless you had 3 strong guys or a crane to install it.
I can't imagine what it cost them to ship it here from the rainforest. It's also very hard. A fingernail cannot dent it.

I don't feel all that good about promoting the harvesting of lumber from "the rainforest" and when I asked the guy what rainforest it came from, he didn't know. He also didn't have a linear foot price for me yet either.

I will however cut something from this free sample and see how it cuts on the shopbot and how it sandblasts. I'll keep you all posted.

07-29-2002, 11:18 PM
Hey look what I just found:

Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Pau Lope.

07-30-2002, 08:41 AM
I'm a member of the 'save the oil well foundation'. I believe it is a lot easier to raise trees than dinosaurs.

Now, to the rainforest. Are talking about the rainforest on the Pacific coast where Douglas fir, redwood and cedar comes from?(actually, there are no cedars native to the Americas - sort of like calling a politician 'the honorable') Or, are we talking about some place in the tropics?

I went to the website and read the 'feel good' brochure they produce. As tropical woods can go under a different name depending on where IN a country one may be, without a 'Latin name', one cannot go to a reference book and attain the physical properties of the material. I did not see the Latin name on the website. I was looking.

I've been to the tropics, walked the bush(jungle or rainforest if you like either of those terms) and have observed the operations. I know loggers who worked the Amazon basin. The method they describe is typical harvesting. When the 'jungle' -oops, make the rainforest, is clear cut the canopy rebuilds itself where it finds sunlight, on the ground - I have been in mahogany 'groves' where the tops of mature trees were about 20'. They were planted by 'the Americans' who went there and were going to teach the locals how to run the forest industry

Pau Lope "registered trade mark". Now, how in the flying flip do you register the common name of a product. I thought the only 'product name' allowed by the copyright office that was also a botanical name was Tabasco. I do know how business is done throughout the tropics. Greased palms are the polite way of stating you bribe them. It is a direct way of political support as opposed to 'pay for promises' system we have here. The politicians there are probably more truthful.

I guess my experiences in life make me see things differently. I look at the website and see a bunch of 'makes me feel good stuff'. I've eaten endangered animals with the natives, I've slept in mosquito infested swamps - ah... rainforests, ah..the bush, ah...jungle. And I've felt lucky to get past the politicians without spending time in the torture chambers - oops, jail.

There is a lot of price difference between what the native get for their labors and what one will pay for 'Pau Lope'. I'm sure the promoters are associated with political movements devoted to the uplift, enlightenment and progress of mankind. After all, they claim they are.

BUT, if you can use the wood and the price is right, I say it is better than trying to raise a dinosaur. And remember, some tropical woods are not compatible with normal gluing procedures.

Ron Brown - rgbrown@itexas.net (mailto:rgbrown@itexas.net)

"The essence of what makes America lies not in the headlined heroes ... but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies." Allan Lomax

07-30-2002, 12:33 PM
Mayo, That wood looks alot like Ipe (E-pay). There was an article on it in the last Fine Woodworking.

Ron brings up a good point about gluing. You'll want to test that out first. If you have any problems, let me know, I can lend you my experience.

07-30-2002, 01:56 PM

There is a reason it looks a lot like Ipe. It is. Well, not really, according to the receptionist on the phone. Pau Lope is "the highest grade of the woods known as Ipe." I will bet it is superior in price.

Ipe, Lapacho, Brazilian Walnut and Pau Lope are all Tababuia Spp. "The lapacho group or series of trees Tabebuia consists of about 20 species of trees and occurs in practically every Latin American country except Chile. Another commonly used name is ipe." from 'Wood as an Engineering Material', 1974 revision.

It may be identical to Ipe but I was assured that Pau Lope was more identical and superior.

Ron Brown - rgbrown@itexas.net (mailto:rgbrown@itexas.net)
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly
native American criminal class except Congress.
- Mark Twain

07-30-2002, 03:46 PM
You are all right. One and the same. Also the reason it is cheap is that it is the most evil wood on earth!!!
We treat it like metal when working it. pre drill holes oversize is a must.
Dust is vicious. Wear a mask or preferably a real respirator.

All splinter will cause infection.
Also, for a wood so hard shrinkage and expansion are very noticable.

Looks pretty varished though


07-30-2002, 04:19 PM
I'd like to find out what insecticides are used in the shipping containers that bring the stuff here, and if there is any residue left in or on the wood that we should be concerned with.

07-30-2002, 07:24 PM
Some of the woods make insecticides appear to be mild. Breathing dust from many of the tropical highly rot resistant woods will cause rashes, breathing problems and death. Once one develops an allergy to them they seem to be accumulative.

I doubt much of the Ipe, Pau Lope or whatever they call if is treated like thy do mahogany or many other tropical woods as few insects - like NONE I know of, will attack it.

Ron Brown - rgbrown@itexas.net (mailto:rgbrown@itexas.net)

"The essence of what makes America lies not in the headlined heroes ... but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies." Allan Lomax

07-30-2002, 10:10 PM
Ron & Mayo

I too use vertical grain redwood but have a good supplier here in Oklahoma. They also cary this decking material which is imported. It comes to in 5 quarter by 6" and the cost is about the same as redwood. The only commonalty is that they come from a tree. The Paulope although beautiful is hard to machine, full of sliica, hard to glue but will outlast redwood.

It will V Carve beautifully.

We pay $9.00 a running foot for 2"X10" vertical redwood. For our work, this is just the best.

07-30-2002, 10:35 PM
Your thread on Pau Lope caught my attention! I now live in the northwest corner of Washington state but before I moved up here (western red cedar country)I spent 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and as a professional carpenter and I have put down incredible amounts of clear heart redwood for decking. I can remember buying it for 55 cents a board foot for absolutely gorgeous stock. But it is now almost unavailable. Two summers ago I went back down to do a little work for my former employer and was suprised when he showed me the material we were going to use for the deck. It was Pau Lope. Incredibly heavy! This is a hardwood and extremely dense. Very subject to water absorbtion. If you look at the end grain you can see why. Tiny visable holes or capillaries. You have to pin the stock up and let it air dry around all four sides so that it aclimates. Each cut has to be painted with a wax emultion to control the water absortion. It was a "blind fastening system" which is very labor intensive. requires adhesive, self spacing plastic inserts which have to be bisquited into each peace of decking above each joist and fastens with a blind stainless steel square drive screw. The decking was absolutely gorgeous when it went down but after a month the 1/8th inch spacing grew disconcertingly to where I felt like I could throw my hat between the joints. I did however save alot of the scraps and I plan to see how it works on the shopbot this weekend. I see that it is also available in 5/4 stock! I dont want to think how heavy that must be!


07-31-2002, 10:31 PM
I've been machining a lot of Pau Lope for the Michigan distributor of the stuff. It is, by far, the hardest (densest) wood I've ever encountered. Forget about using bargain bits with this stuff. Resin build up can be a problem - WD40 works to remove it. Feeds and speeds are comparable to aluminum. It does cut cleanly and looks great when properly finished.

08-04-2002, 01:09 AM
As a matter of routine, the US Customs Service would require certain things (like wood from Brazil) to be fumigated prior to landing on U.S. soil. This is to prevent the introduction of any potentially dangerous insects which could eat our crops or cause other problems. Normally this fumigation would take place inside the shipping container.

This is not the same as treating lumber to prevent rotting or make it insect proof. It's merely to kill any insects that might be in or on it when it's made ready for shipment.

I'm in contact with a Brazillian freight forwarder (located in Brazil) who is trying to find out what is used and if there's any residue to worry about.

Hey Joe - $9.00 a foot for 2x10 vertical grain redwood sounds like a deal compared to $14 for 2x12 here (and it's impossible to find it)

08-09-2002, 12:04 AM
OK I found out through a freight forwarder in Brazil that the fumigation is done with aluminum phosphate. Now if we have any chemists in the group who know how hazardous it is or isn't to humans, and how likely it would be for any residue to stay in or on the wood...

I was told they used to use a product called metil bromete (spelling probably wrong) but that it's now forbidden for them to use it. Hmmm I wonder why.

Am I getting paranoid or just old?

08-10-2002, 12:22 AM

"Am I getting paranoid or just old?"

Possibly reality is setting in. Methyl Bromide was used for years as a fumigant. It will kill all sorts of things like termites and seeds before they sprout. It kills mice, spiders, flies, snakes, illegal immigrants and anything else in one of those shipping containers. It dissipates to the atmosphere and was assumed harmless. OH, that kill list would include mosquitoes that carry Nile Virus.

Methyl Bromide was banned. It was banned (as I remember) in 1998. It would not be a politically correct thing to connect the banning of Methyl Bromide and West Nile Virus as Methyl Bromide is a bad chemical and blamed for contributing to global warming. Or, was that for the new ice age -OOPS, my mistake, last decade's problem. That's correct GLOBAL WARMING is the problem now. Forget I said anything about the coming ice age.

Ron Brown - rgbrown@itexas.net (mailto:rgbrown@itexas.net)

"The essence of what makes America lies not in the headlined heroes ... but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies." Allan Lomax

11-04-2003, 01:07 AM
OK it's time for another new materials update...

Has anyone besides myself tried making anything on their BOT out of the laminated beam products being sold to the construction industry?

This stuff comes in various widths and lengths and the thickness is close to two inches. It looks like plywood except it's thicker and all the plies are about the same thickness.

In spite of breaking two 1/4" bits on it from cutting too fast and too deep, I think it might produce some cool looking stuff if you like the multi-layered laminated look of the edge.

I've seen table tops made of this or something very similar, stacked and glued so that the edge becomes the top and bottom rather than the edge. A high gloss clear makes it look really nice.

12-08-2003, 09:10 PM
Picture of a laminated item.

OK nobody else has worked with this stuff?

12-08-2003, 09:52 PM
2661OK now it's cookin

12-09-2003, 09:34 PM
Hey all you need now are a couple of dogs and you're all set