December 14, 2022
If you live in Asia or Africa, you might not be familiar with Boxelder wood, for it is only native to North America but not to these two continents. Instead, you might be knowledgeable of African Teak, Burmese Teak, and many other domestic hardwoods and softwoods native to those continents. But what is Boxelder wood? Is it good for anything?
The obvious thing about Boxelder wood is that it is adaptable and easy to grow, and it is from North America. It is, of course, increasingly becoming popular, earning it various names from those who like and dislike this wood.
What is Boxelder Wood?
Boxelder wood is a fast-growing type of Maple Tree found in the United States. Its scientific name is Acer negundo, which gets classified as soft maple, and referred to as Ash-leaved Maple. Despite being a soft Maple, it is still hardwood with a yellowish-brown color. It also has straight grains.
Although originally from North America, Boxelder is now introduced to South America, South Africa, Europe, Australia, Asia, and New Zealand. This tree can grow up to 80 feet high with a maximum trunk diameter of 2 feet. It grows fast, but it is short-lived. It is also not a durable wood, and it easily breaks.
Boxelder wood is the weakest and lightest of all Maple types. You can work it with ease using manual tools and machine tools. Thus, if you’re a beginner in woodworking, it will be best to start with this wood.
Boxelder wood is a bit brittle and has lighter color. It is close-grained with a fine texture. You will also sometimes see streaks of raspberry colors on this wood. Besides, when you cut it fresh, it exudes a pungent aroma that diminishes over time.
Properties of Boxelder Wood
With a Janka wood hardness rating at 720 lbf. Boxelder wood has pale white sapwood, which can be yellow-green sometimes. Its heartwood is yellowish/greyish brown with streaks of pink or red produced by its natural defenses when wounded. These reddish hues turn brownish or pinkish when it dries.
The grain of this wood is straight, and its texture is fine and even. You will also notice its growth rings to be non-distinct and pale.
Regarding durability, Boxelder wood is not known for durability. It is considered non-durable. Moreover, it is not rot-resistant. Its heartwood is susceptible to insect attacks and decay. Thus, if durability is your requirement for a project, you can never rely on this wood.
Applications & Uses of Boxelder Wood
- Despite its lackluster qualities and durability, Boxelder wood still has many uses. You can use it for making simple furniture, toys, and cabinets. You can also use it for making cabinets. Besides, you can craft it into wooden utensils and use it for carvings and woodturning.
- Of course, its red streaks make it an eye-catching wood for woodturning and other decorative items. It gets also used for making fiberboard commercially.
- Because of its lightweight property, it gets often used for making boxes, treenware, toys, and storage projects. You can also use it for accent works, especially the spalted Boxelder. Nevertheless, you can’t use this wood outdoors or for outdoor projects.
- Boxelder wood is perfect for beginners just getting the hang of woodworking and carving. You can quickly work this wood and fashion it into desirable shapes. However, it is slightly brittle, meaning you need to handle it carefully when you carve it.
Working and Machining Boxelder Wood
After having known the succinct characteristics and properties of Boxelder wood, it will also help if you are cognizant of how you can work and machine this wood:
Start with Moderate Constant Speed
If you have previously tried machining hard maple, you will find machining the Boxelder wood easier than Hard Maple. Nevertheless, when machining, this wood might burn. So, you must take extra precautions not to burn the wood.
The best way to rip this wood is to feed this wood at a moderate and constant rate to lessen or do away with burning. Similarly, you should make several light passes to avoid burning it when routing it.
If you want a clean rip cut, you can use saws with a number of teeth ranging from 24 to 32 TPI. However, you can use a blade with forty teeth for optimum results when crosscutting.
Easy to Work Using Your Hand Tools
If you prefer hand tools over machine tools, you will find this wood easy to work with using your hand tools. It is not hard on the bits, cutting edges, and abrasives. Thus, working with this wood is like a kid’s work for experts.
Don’t Hesitate or Force-feed Boxelder Wood
When working with this wood, don’t be impatient. Avoid hesitating and force-feeding this wood, especially when ripping because it may increase the chance of burning the wood. Rely on a constant feed rate even if you’re routing.
Easy for Planing
Because this wood has close grains, it is also easy to plane. Use a sharp cutter to ensure a smooth surface result. It is also easy to sand and provides great sanding results.
Speed Up the RPM When Drilling
The Boxelder wood might be hardwood, but when drilling it, you should speed up the rate of the drill bit. Use larger-diameter bits and clear out chips occasionally by raising the bit. This way, you can lessen burning. Besides, you can avoid tearing out if you utilize a backing board.
You should refrain from using twist drills when drilling this wood. Twist drills might wander and cause splitting or breakout. Instead, it will be best if you use high-quality bits that are sharp. Apply moderate speed and raise the RPM a bit occasionally. Clear the chips off the hole.
Predrill When Nailing or Screwing
Another thing to remember when nailing this wood is you need to predrill to prevent splitting the wood. This way, you can maintain the integrity of the wood as you drill.
Blotches When Stained
Boxelder wood sands well. Nevertheless, it blotches when you stain it. You can use a sanding sealer, thin coat, or dewaxed shellac to seal the wood partially before you stain it. Ensure that the stain and sealer are compatible with ease other.
Boxelder Wood Might Resist Gluing
Boxelder wood has a tight grain that can resist gluing. So, to achieve the best results, you should be generous with your glue by gluing the joining surfaces. Afterward, press the surfaces together and pull the pieces apart to make the glue a bit tacky. Then, you can rejoin and clamp the pieces. Clean up the excess adhesive.
The use of Boxelder wood comes with some advantages. First, it is moderately priced, so you will not break the bank when you opt for this wood. Besides, hobbyists and artisans harvest it in small quantities because it is of poor quality, and there are many other options for more significant projects requiring durability.
This wood also sports a gorgeous look that is good behold. Aside from that, it is easy to work with, which is perfect for beginners who have just recently dabbled in woodworking. So, if you want to jumpstart your woodworking career, you might as well start with this wood.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.