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Thread: Black Locust?

  1. #1
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    Default Black Locust?

    Someone I know who works for MVVA posted this link about Black Locust. I haven't seen it available on the west coast, but I like the idea of a more sustainable, locally grown hardwood for exterior use.

    http://dirt.asla.org/2011/11/10/why-...-black-locust/

    Anyone have experience with it? Is this a good idea whose time is just around the corner, or is it just another green pipe dream?

    kevin

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Kevin,although it is very durable, I have found great reluctance of any sawyers to produce it on anything that might be considered a commercial scale. Too many issues with shrinkage, warp and twist. Also very,very hard when dry and therefore difficult to nail. As described in your article, lot of interest in it for fence post and items of that nature that don't demand kiln drying or fastening. I also know it does not hold paint well.

    Several years ago I spoke to a tech. at the "Forest Products Research Lab" regarding some options for the "timber" portion of a new tudor style house ( with stucco infill panels ) we were doing some work at. His recommendation was black locust, but when I inquired at some mills none of them had anything larger than a 2x6-8'.

    There is a lot of it in PA and I often wondered why it did not enjoy more widespread use. Maybe we can learn something from the European markets where it is looked on more favorably.
    "ALS IK KAN" - Stickley

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, Calvert. The linked article mentioned the need for very controlled drying. I read that as code for "it will check and warp"...

    As far as hardness, it's roughly half of Ipe on the Janka scale, so I can deal with that. I'm mostly interested in it as a deck surface, so paint is not an issue, the decks I do are either left to age naturally or get a oil finish like penofin.

    I love the look and performance of Ipe, but I'd love something that is proven to perform nearly as well and is more sustainable. I'm still searching.
    k

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    One of the towns near here got a load of locust to redeck their boardwalk. A local environmental group pushed them to try it as an alternative to tropical hardwood.

    The load was sent back - too badly checked and twisted.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    We have three huge black locust trees. They are constantly trying to propagate themselves around the yard... like weeds. This fall I cut one down that was growing in the middle of my fence, about 9" in diameter, and cut it into short rounds. They weigh as much as fieldstones. Still, I've never seen anyone use it for anything but fence posts.
    Bailer Hill Construction, Inc. - Friday Harbor, WA
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Thanks calvert and kfc. Great information.
    www.telianconstruction.com
    Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship. - Zeuxis, 400 B.C.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Quote Originally Posted by S.Joisey View Post
    One of the towns near here got a load of locust to redeck their boardwalk. A local environmental group pushed them to try it as an alternative to tropical hardwood.

    The load was sent back - too badly checked and twisted.
    That's the harsh reality I pretty much expected. I wonder if an expert sawyer and/or kiln drier could have avoided some of that or if it's simply the nature of the wood. Do you have any other background on that particular case? Were there news articles or did they just hush it up and order some damn Ipe?...
    k

    edit to add: This may be the story you were talking about:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28591998.../#.TsfwOFZgXk8

    And this blog about it, with the quote "you gave me a sample of a material that doesn't exist"
    http://forestpolicy.posterous.com/ne...lding-a-wooden
    Last edited by kfc510; 11-19-2011 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Think I found the story?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Quote Originally Posted by kfc510 View Post
    That's the harsh reality I pretty much expected. I wonder if an expert sawyer and/or kiln drier could have avoided some of that or if it's simply the nature of the wood. Do you have any other background on that particular case? Were there news articles or did they just hush it up and order some damn Ipe?...
    k

    edit to add: This may be the story you were talking about:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28591998.../#.TsfwOFZgXk8

    And this blog about it, with the quote "you gave me a sample of a material that doesn't exist"
    http://forestpolicy.posterous.com/ne...lding-a-wooden
    That's it, Kevin. I didn't realize it made the national news. I had read it in the local paper.

    I haven't heard a follow up, but I presume they used ipe.

    It's a shame it didn't work out. Would have been great PR for locust.

    You'd think with a huge job like that the mill would have made sure they gave them the best.
    Perhaps that was the best they could do.
    Last edited by S.Joisey; 11-19-2011 at 02:01 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    On thing I can tell you about it...


    Is that when I cut that sucker down in my backyard, let it dry out, and stocked the fire with it, it burned really well...


    Garbage tree that reminds me of bamboo. Grows everywhere, once it's taken hold.
    Chuck

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Quote Originally Posted by always-learning View Post
    On thing I can tell you about it...


    Is that when I cut that sucker down in my backyard, let it dry out, and stocked the fire with it, it burned really well...


    Garbage tree that reminds me of bamboo. Grows everywhere, once it's taken hold.
    Geeeez, Burns really well, grows like weeds, produces heat btu output comparable to anthracite coal, maybe a partial answer to the high price of oil. Oh, by the way, it produces very little smoke so even you left coasters can maybe get a reprieve from the fireplace ban and stoke up the firebox!!!!
    "ALS IK KAN" - Stickley

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Maybe you're right. Pull the engine out of your car, put in a wood boiler and a steam engine, tow a trailer with dried locust rounds behind you.
    Bailer Hill Construction, Inc. - Friday Harbor, WA
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    If used as a fence post, make sure to put it in the ground 'upside down', they tend to reroot easily.
    Portland Renovations, Inc.
    www.portlandrenovations.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Besides great firewood and fenceposts I have used black locust for replacement girts in timberframe barns, as well as porch posts on rustic cabin projects. I don't know about further east but here in the Ohio river valley they usually get a fungus that doesn't kill the tree for a long time but degrades them as a saw log.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchman View Post
    If used as a fence post, make sure to put it in the ground 'upside down', they tend to reroot easily.
    Seriously?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Black Locust?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchman View Post
    If used as a fence post, make sure to put it in the ground 'upside down', they tend to reroot easily.

    That would make a stronger fence post, right? I've heard this before and thought it would be great to have a post take root. It typically goes in upside down because it is narrower at the top. From experience Black Locust will last longer than pressure treated lumber below grade.
    Ain't too Proud to Learn

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