Soap Bush

    (Alphitonia excelsa)


Also known as: Red Ash

Soap Bush is quite common and can be found on just about any type of country across the Highlands. It grows to around 8 metres tall with trunk diameters to about 200mm. Closer to the coast in rainforest areas it grows much bigger.
  Quite possibly one of the most obnoxious timbers I have worked with! My first experience was with the log pictured right from a drought-killed tree - the silica content was so high you could virtually see the crystals. I had a woeful time trying to turn anything from it and the finished piece was so ugly I didn't even photograph it. I have also found the same problem with other drought-killed species so this was not a definitive result.
Once I got hold of a freshly felled tree, I roughed out a couple of pieces and found it just cracks and cracks while drying until it almost falls apart. I then tried using the detergent-dip treatment on the piece pictured which didn't seem to help - still cracked everywhere. There was so much internal tension in this one that as I got towards the last hollowing cuts it just exploded off the chuck. At this point I decided to just glue it back together and re-finish the outside enough to put it on the website. The rest of the tree is now firewood!
My opinions aside, the timber is moderately heavy, close grained and machines OK. It doesn't sand easily, tending to burnish, but does take a nice finish.


Back to Top