Leopardwood

    (Flindersia dissosperma)

 

Also known as: Scrub Leopardwood

  Scrub Leopardwood is very common on the Central highlands in it's juvenile form as in the picture at right. Large tracts can be seen as the regrowth takes over some grazing land after clearing but only a few seem to survive to maturity like the example at left. I've read that the parallel branches on the juvenile trunk are remnants of ancient times when they were supposed to deter large herbivores from browsing the tree. The flowers develop into a fruit that closely resembles a strawberry, just skinnier, that is apparently edible.  

 

The largest specimen I've seen is the sawn tree pictured which was about 12 metres high with a trunk about 350mm diameter at ground level. Leopardwood splits badly if left in log form and cups badly in board form - all-round unstable stuff!
The timber isn't too bad to turn and smells like breakfast cereal, weet-bix perhaps, when being machined. Items roughed out of green timber still crack a lot if air dried - not a very friendly timber. It sands well and takes a good finish. I found it has a transparent quality that displays itself readily - the pictured bowl is about 3mm thick where the light from above is showing through.
This carved bowl was roughed out green and then soaked in water for 3 weeks before being left to dry for about a year - only had to fill a few fine cracks before finishing it. The carving was done with an Arbortec cutter in an angle grinder mounted on a pretty makeshift swivel.
This bowl was roughed out and allowed to air dry with the outside covered in paper and suffered no more cracking then the soaked one above. The picture at right shows the fine 'ripple' that a lot of this timber exhibits.
"Ball in a board" was a concept I came up with for a challenge on the Ubeaut woodworkers forum I follow. My idea was for the viewer to find one quarter of the sphere untouched, one quarter grooved on the outside, one on the inside and one quarter with the lattice effect. Unfortunately I did not give the blanks time to settle after cutting them from a half log and the piece cracked shortly after finishing it.

 

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