Australian Woods? We’re Not There Yet

Australian Woods? We’re Not There Yet

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Chris Schwarz Woodworking Classes, Raw Materials, Woodworking Blogs


My biggest fear when traveling to Australia wasn’t the 16-hour flight, the change of hemispheres or the spiders that would make my *deleted* fall off.

It was the timber I’d have to work with.

Australian woods have the reputation of being the nastiest, hardest, most interlocked and silica-choked timbers on the planet. One stroke on a board of figured blackwood has been known to reduce an infill smoother to tears.

So I headed to Australia with my old block plane, 1/2” chisel and Tite-Mark gauge and hoped they wouldn’t be destroyed.

After four days, I can report no problems whatsoever. Of course, I haven’t gotten to work with any Australian timbers. To build this tool chest during my first session in Australia, we’re using Malayasian Kauri pine, which is fairly soft like radiata pine or a sponge cake. But it planes up just fine, as long as your tools are really sharp and finely set.

The classes in the coming weeks promise more fun.

I’m off to bed in a few minutes, but in the coming days I’ll show you some photos of the amazing woods in the racks at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking. So stay tuned.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 15 comments
  • LGSmith

    On a related question; does anyone know about wood and veneers from South Africa? I’m going to be there in May and would like to buy some unusual veneers.

    Any input is welcome.

  • Derek Cohen

    Chris, you are unlikely to find much Jarrah in Melbourne. They only have woosie wood, such as Kaurie Pine, which is as soft as. You’ll need to come to Perth … 🙂

    Hope you are having fun and dodging the local reptiles, arthropods, and alcoholic beverages.

    Regards from Perth


    • Chris Vesper

      Indeed you are almost correct Derek. 🙂 The stuff you guys grow out West is indeed hard, and really tough stuff. Apart from the slightly girly by comparison Sheoak.

      • Derek Cohen

        … and watch out for Chris Vesper as well – he frightens my dogs and eats pizza, or vice versa … but does make half-decent tools.

        Regards fro Perth


  • david hart

    Mate, if you plan on staying here you’d better familiarize yourself with some Australian folk music!

  • Marlon1

    Thanks Chris for the posts, photos, videos, & music.

  • dnbrooks

    I love the music. Who is it?

    • iwigle

      Birmingham Jail by Chatham County Line. This version available at (Wanted to find it myself…)

      • troxelb

        Thanks! Downloaded the whole album.

  • Clay Dowling

    That’s a cool video, but the music is a serious downer. Woodworking is my escape from a world where stuff like that happens.

    • troxelb

      That’s funny, I just logged in to post my first comment on this site to find out who Chris uses for his soundtracks. I kinda like it…

    • bobbollin

      Clay: You understand the lyrics? Wow.

      But thanks for the videos and post, Chris. It’s always good to see that people are the same all over the world. Without hearing them speak, I could swear these guys were from the USA…or Europe…or Wherever.

  • robert

    That is a very cool looking stool in the video at 0:31 thru 0:40.

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