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Goncalo Alves

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Machining methods

Machining methods

Both species of goncalo alves, because they are hard, heavy, and dense, require power tools for successful working. The wood takes a toll on cutting edges, too, so use carbide-tipped blades and cutters. Then, remember these helpful tips:

  • Feed this dense wood slowly into the planer. If you find that your stock has interlocked grain, feed it at a slight angle of about 15. If any tearout occurs, take a shallower cut.
  • Goncalo alves' density also means that you should rip it with a rip-profile blade that has no more than 28 teeth. This allows sawdust to clear and avoids burning from heat buildup.
  • Crosscut wood with lots of figure with the help of a backing board to prevent tearout.
  • In jointing, take shallow passes of 1/32" to reduce tearout.
  • At the drill press, a slower rpm (about 250) won't burn this hard wood. In deep drilling, back the bit out once in awhile to clear it.
  • You'll get the best results in routing goncalo alves if you use bits with ballbearing pilots. Combine this with a consistent feed rate and you'll avoid burning.
  • Due to the extreme hardness of this wood, you won't want to skip any grits in sanding or you'll leave scratches. Also avoid cross-grain sanding. You'll find that a cabinet scraper may give better results than sanding.
  • Be sure to lubricate screws.
  • In gluing goncalo alves, first wipe the wood in the joints with a solvent to clear natural extractives. Then, because its density resists glue absorption, use an adhesive with a longer open time, such as woodworker's white glue. Put on a light coat, briefly join the pieces, then pull them apart and let the glue set up a bit before reassembling the wood.
  • Although goncalo alves takes a high luster from simple polishing, you'll want to give it a clear finish to show off its beauty.

Continued on page 6:  Carving comments


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