(Casuarina cristata)


Also known as: Black Oak

Belah is common across the Central Highlands and is found on just about any soil type, growing to around 10 metres tall with trunks to around 350mm diameter.
The timber is not popular with woodworkers like the other casuarinas/allocauarinas because it has no visible medullary ray and is a bland, light brown colour.
Belah could easily be confused with Buloke if it weren't for the seed cones Belah produces. They are usually about 20mm long and 12mm wide.
While it is commonly known as the best firewood available, I had long avoided collecting any of this timber because of its reputation for being hard, bland and very prone to cracking. I was sure the log I got and anything I made from it was going to split like celery so I roughed out a bowl while it was still very wet and soaked it in a detergent solution for 3 months to see if it could be saved. The treatment worked beautifully and only a couple of very small cracks appeared. The rest of the log was split down the heart with the ends sealed and so far has remained fairly stable.
After the detergent treatment, the timber was a pleasure to turn, slicing cleanly and holding fine detail. Belah shapes easily with carbide burrs and sands very well also. This bowl was finished with a couple of coats of Danish Oil but the timber would accept any type of finish well  -  it's just a shame the colour is so bland.  


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