[Greenbuilding] Black Locust instead of Ipe

Clarke Olsen colsen at fairpoint.net
Wed Dec 7 18:32:00 PST 2011


I've used Locust for decks, railings, and outdoor tables; it's great. Perhaps kiln drying causes stress: 
everything I've worked with has been ar dried, and has been fairly stable. My problem is, I don't know 
Black Locust from Honey Locust, or how much it matters.
Clarke Olsen
373 route 203
Spencertown, NY 12165 
USA
518-392-4640
colsen at fairpoint.net




On Dec 7, 2011, at 9:01 PM, Tim Vireo Keating wrote:

> Sacie, et al,
> 
> I apologize for the delay in responding to this. As David mentioned, I have been working on this for some time but have been swamped.
> 
> Years ago, black locust was used for wagon wheel hubs, "trunnels" ("tree nails" for nailing wooden ship hulls to the beams), occasionally for ship hulls, for insulator pins on telegraph poles and sometimes for the poles themselves.These days, the wood is still (occasionally) used for certain parts of wooden boats but, as you say, mostly used for fence posts.
> 
> I have been recommending black locust as an alternative to tropical hardwoods to companies and municipalities for about five years. The use of this material in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where I campaigned for two years against the use of ipê, is a direct result of my advocacy - as it is in Central Park and by NYC Parks Department in general.
> 
> I firmly believe that black locust can provide an excellent alternative to tropical hardwoods in applications where durability vis-a-vis resistance to moisture and bacterial breakdown is an issue. This includes decks (including the rails), porches, exterior posts, sill plates, fencing, siding and even roofing shingles (should one attempt to go with wood, as they did in the old days).
> 
> I have been working for some time to be able to provide these profiles to users. Indeed, I had convinced at least one municipality to order the wood for their boardwalk renovation project more than a year ago, but they ended up buying the wood from a supplier that sold them 'log run', which was not suitable for a municipal boardwalk.
> 
> There is no doubt that, for many applications, using black locust has its challenges. I believe these can be overcome with some application of intelligence and I am working on doing this right now. It's very important to understand the realities of this wood, especially in regards to the size of the trees, their tendency to twist as they grow and the tendency of the wood to move as it's milled and after. It's an extremely dense and strong material. One needs to know just how to dry it and then how to mill and plane it - and then re-plane it! As well, there are applications where it simply won't work (I have personal experience with one such application, where I was the first person to recommend the material to the user, then they ended up buying if from a supplier and using it in an area I didn't know about, in a very thin profile, with only one screw holding the four-foot-ling pieces down on each end - not the right place for, or at least the way to fasten, this material).
> 
> I have seen this material in place and performing extremely well in numerous situations. One just needs to know how to deal with it.
> 
> If anyone on this list would like to try black locust for any of the above applications, please contact me.
> 
> tim keating
> 
> 
>> 
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