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Spotlight On Mesquite

A challenging wood that’s worth the extra work.

Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

Ask any East Coast woodworker about their experience with mesquite (Prosopis julifora), and it’s likely to involve a grill and a choice cut of meat. On the other hand, furnituremakers and turners throughout the Southwest know that within this small, twisted, thorny tree lies more than a potential pile of chips.

Mesquite’s multi-chromatic heartwood—often accentuated with dramatic figure resulting from its harsh growing environment—puts this wood on par with the most coveted exotics. However, such beauty doesn’t come without a fight, as the hardness and interlocking grain of this “Texas Ironwood” will put your hand tools and machinery to the test. In addition, the tree’s diminutive size and low yield of usable stock hinders its use in large projects. That said, if you’re up to its challenges, mesquite can add a bold new flavor to your woodworking. Read on to learn how to select the best stock and make the most of it in your shop.

Where the wood comes from

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April-May 2017

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