Author Topic: 18th/19th Century Arbor Wood  (Read 11890 times)

Wayne Adams

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18th/19th Century Arbor Wood
« on: January 02, 2007, 02:38:28 PM »
I have never known the particulars of the wooden arbors of the old wood movements (S. Thomas, E. Terry, etc.).
Can anyone tell me what wood was used?   I have been repairing them for 20+/- years now and have never known exactly what wood these arbors are made of.  They seem to have little grain, very low warpage, reasonable temp/humidity stability, and show signs of exceptional machinability.  Some research has suggested rhododendrum(sp) but isn't that a flower?

Offline Reid Heilig

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wood for wooden arbors
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 08:22:55 AM »
According to George Bruno the wood was Kalmia Laurel which is a form of Rhododendrum. In the South were this is not readily obtainable dogwood is an excellant substitute and holly is very good. I have used both. Reid Heilig

Wayne Adams

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18th/19th Century Arbor Wood
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2007, 03:56:27 AM »
Thank you, Reid.  Finally I know.  I have access to some Holly and will give it a try.

Offline Reid Heilig

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Wooden Arbors
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2007, 06:04:13 AM »
Wayne, holly is very good but not as good as dogwood in my experience. I have had excellant results drying both by gathering them this time of the year. debarking the wood, cut it into two foot lenghts, coat the ends with two heavy coats of carpenters' wood glue but allow the first coat to dry before adding the second, suspend by string or cord with the uppermost end to the bottom(very important according to old European treatise on drying wood) in unheated basement and allow to dry. This has really given me some unbelievable drying results. I have dried dogwood and holly up tp six inches in diameter with just fantastic results. Holly grown in a swampy area is best for some reasons. There are some who make their wheels from these woods because the quarter sawn black cherry almost never has tight growth rings any more. I can do things to holly and dogwood that would snap the teeth off black cherry and never lose a tooth or leaf for that matter. Reid

Wayne Adams

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18th/19th Century Arbor Wood
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2007, 02:03:15 PM »
Very useful information, Reid.  I have some Holly saved from a tree we had to remove from our yard about 3 years ago.  I'll give it the drying treatment under my house (crawlspace).  Its dry as a bone down there and, in the meantime, I will be gone on vacation for about 3 months.  Thanks again.

Offline clockguy2

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18th/19th Century Arbor Wood
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2007, 01:19:22 PM »
I've heard that Some used apple or pear wood for arbors. Here in the south,
Bradford Flowering pear was over used as a landscape tree for the last 20 years or so. Now many people are cutting them down and stacking the logs by the road. I get em when I spot em and seal the end grain to minimize checking while it seasons in my garage.  
~Bryan Smith

Offline Reid Heilig

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Re: 18th/19th Century Arbor Wood
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2008, 11:39:59 AM »
Byran, I very much would like to hear of your experience in drying and using this bradford pear wood. Regular fruiting pear has been an excellant wood in centuries past but I was not sure if this bradford pear was as good. By the way the bradford pear has become considered an invasive tree in North Carolina due to the birds carring the seed everywhere and its ease in germinating and crowding out native understory trees plus it has a type of thorn that is so strong that it will puncture leather riding chaps. I look forward to what your experience is with this wood. Reid