Tennessee Valley Woodworkers

Vol. 15/ Issue 5                                                May  2000                                         Editor: Tom Gillard


Meeting Notice:

The next meeting of the TN Valley Woodworkers

Will be held, May 16, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. in the

Duck River Electric Building, Dechard, TN

All interested woodworkers are invited!




Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice


Annual TVWW Picnic- June 24th

DREMC Picnic Grounds


Mark your calendar now and plan to join the whole TVWW membership for fun, friendship and a great picnic on Saturday, June 24th.  The picnic will be held at the park area adjacent to the DREMC facility in Decherd, TN from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM.

The club will provide the beverages and the meat course.  Everyone is asked to bring either a salad, a vegetable dish, bread(s) or a dessert.  Also, since we will have to move extra tables to the park area, it would greatly help if everyone could bring their own lawn or folding chairs.  Finally, if anyone has a croquet set or a horseshoe set, we'd like to borrow them for the picnic.  Please call us, Maurice or Ruth Ryan at 931-962-1555 and let us know.  Also, if you would like to offer to help out, we sure would like to hear from you.


Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice Early Notice




Frequently called Philippine mahogany, this wood isn't mahogany at all. Identifying, classifying, and naming native American hardwoods becomes child’s play compared to the complexity involving what many of us refer to as Philippine mahogany. You see, in the world timber trade, the wood of many species with similar characteristics can sometimes be lumped together and sold under one name. That’s the story behind Philippine mahogany.


         The Philippine Islands, as well as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia, produce a great variety of hardwoods. But the most volume comes from a group of tree species known commercially as Philippine mahogany, due to the appearance of their lumber and the fact that the word mahogany is widely recognized. However, none of these species belong to the family Meliaceae that includes the New World mahoganies of the Swietenia genus, such as Honduras mahogany.


         Generally, the trees that supply the timber for Philippine mahogany lumber and plywood belong to the huge plant family called Dipterocarpaceae. And in that family, the Shorea species has five distinct, commercially important trees named meranti.



Wood identification

         In the Philippines, as well as elsewhere in their range, Shorea trees might be called red or white lauan, tangile, almon, as well as the descriptive  "dark-red meranti" or "light-redmeranti." But it is meranti (Shorea spp.) that makes up the greatest proportion of timber that’s sold as Philippine mahogany. (Note: In botanical science, the letters spp. after the genus name means that several species in that genus share similar appearance and characteristics, e.g. Shorea spp.)


         Meranti traditionally grows in well-drained soils at low altitudes. In ideal conditions, a meranti tree can reach a 200' height and a trunk diameter of 6'. A lumberman’s dream, it will also be branch free for 90'. The bases of some trees feature the vane-like supports called buttresses.


         Light-red and dark-red meranti produce medium-to-coarse textured wood that ranges in color from pale pink to brown and reddish-brown. The grain may be slightly interlocked.


         At about 36 pounds per cubic foot air-dry, meranti is heavier than Honduras mahogany. However, it is not nearly as hard nor as strong, and lacks the durability and stability of a true mahogany. And you may find brittleness in some boards.


Uses in woodworking

Meranti represents a wood of worldwide commercial importance. As veneer, much of it becomes plywood, plywood paneling, cabinets, and hollow-core doors. In lumber form, meranti is worked into light structural framing, moldings and trim, and low-cost furniture. Meranti has little durability in outdoor projects.



Home centers and lumber retailers widely stock meranti plywood in a variety of thicknesses. Already milled, it is available as moldings and other interior trim parts. As lumber, you can buy select and better meranti (sold as Philippine mahogany) in up to 2" thickness for about $2.50 per board foot. Veneer should cost about 25 cents per square foot.


If you have ever machined genuine mahogany, which has been called the wood by which all other woods are measured, meranti will let you down. However, it does not possess any characteristics that could become particularly irritating. Follow these tips for woodworking success.


Machining methods

Medium-to-coarse-grained meranti rips easily, but unless you use a smooth-cutting planer blade, expect to find a rather rough sawn edge of tiny fibers that require sanding to remove.   Plane meranti to thickness by taking shallow cuts to avoid chipping and tearing.  Not as hard as mahogany, and a bit brittle, meranti tends to easily tear out or splinter in jointing. But unlike some types of pine and fir that yield long splinters, those of meranti tend to be short.  Crosscutting with either hand or power tools requires a fence or backing board on the exit side to prevent splintering, known as tearout. This also applies to routing across the grain. Always use sharp bits and blades for the least amount of aggravation.

On the scroll saw or with a jigsaw, avoid ragged cuts by sawing with a fine-toothed blade.

Meranti, unlike some tropical woods (teak, for instance), does not contain extractives or traces of silica, so all types of woodworking glues work well. Screws (pre-drill for these) and nails hold well in meranti. Although this tropical wood accepts all types of stains and finishes, you should fill its open grain to obtain the smoothest, most attractive surface. Meranti holds paint well, too, but either fill first or use a good primer coat over its open grain.


Carving cautions

Makers of classical furniture loved genuine mahogany because it could be carved in intricate detail. Not so with meranti. Chipping, occasional brittleness and its open grain defeat attempts at fine detail that you might want to create.   To avoid chipping, power carvers should use the less aggressive bits when working meranti.

Turning tips

Round down meranti with a 3/4" gouge and a lathe speed no faster than 1,000rpm to reduce chipping the wood.  The open grain of meranti tends to collect finishing material if you apply it while the wood is spinning. The result is a wrinkled surface. You’ll have better luck turning off the lathe to finish.




Any exceptions—and special tips pertaining to this issue's featured wood species—appear under other headings on this page.


For stability in use, always work wood with a maximum moisture content of 8 percent. Feed straight-grained wood into planer knives at a 90° angle. To avoid tearing, feed figured or twisted grain at a slight angle (about 15°), and take shallow cuts of about 1/32".  For clean cuts, rip with a rip-profile blade having 24-32 teeth. Smooth crosscuts require at least a 40-tooth saw blade. Avoid using twist drills. They tend to wander in the wood and cause breakout. Use brad-point bits and a backing board under the workpiece to reduce wood tearout.

Drill pilot holes for screws.

Rout with sharp, preferably carbide-tipped, bits and take shallow passes to avoid burning the wood.

Carving hardwoods means fairly shallow gouge bevels—15° to 20°—and shallow cuts.





The Safety Corner

Compiled by Maurice Ryan


"What you wear to work can keep you safe- OR NOT"


When woodworking, the real fashion fad, the "in" thing is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and effective practices and standards, compliments of the American Furniture Manufactures Association (AFMA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  In fact, PPE is the last line of defense against injury or catastrophe.

            Eyes are easily hurt and often impossible to repair.  Safety glasses with side shields (NOT the slip-on kind) will protect against flying dust, wood chips and thrown staples.  They do not protect against large or high speed flying objects, or corrosive or toxic fumes, sprays and splashes.  Also, they do not protect against optical radiation from lasers and welders.  Using approved protective eyewear that is properly fitted (even over prescription glasses) and properly cared for can and will save your eyesight.  An alternative is the use of a face shield, which can protect against larger and /or faster flying objects.  However, there is still little protection against fumes, sprays, etc., or welder and laser light rays.  Sound is airborne energy that strikes and moves the tissues and bones of the inner ear, which in turn stimulates the auditory nerve.  These bones and tissues are tough but the more they are stimulated, the faster they thicken and wear, and the nerve " fibers" die out.  Indeed, exposure of the unprotected ear to very loud sounds can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage.  Furthermore, even short exposure to loud sounds can all up to the same amount of damage over time.  Therefore, protective earplugs should always be worn in any area where noise levels equal or exceed 85 dB (decibels).  There are many kinds of earplugs, such as those with or without neck cords, or made of gum, foam and/or soft plastic.  To properly insert any one of them, reach over the top of your head, grip and lift the top of your ear to open the ear canal and insert the plug with your other hand.  When you let go, the canal closes on the plug to form a perfect fit.  The remove the plug, jiggle it to release the air pressure and gently work it out of the ear canal.  Do not jerk the plug out of the ear or you might damage the eardrum.  Also, keep the plugs clean to prevent ear infections and discard them if they are no longer soft and pliable.  Earmuffs also can be used effectively and both earmuffs and earplugs can be used together to provide maximum protection in areas of very high noise level.

Modern Woodworking Jan, 2000 page 26&27




Sears lathe duplicator.  Complete unit for turning more than one of the same part.  Already assembled.  Call Tom Gillard to see it.  393-0525  $95.00



The Fine Arts Show is being held in Tullahoma on the 27th & 28th of May.  My son Russell Brown will be participating this year with his segmented bowls and decorative vases.
Thanks Manuel


Saw Blade Sharpening Service and new blade purchasing through the Leitz Company.   Drop off sights are located at:


Dixie Woodworks: 394-2832

Branching Out: 393-0525