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Western Larch

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Machining methods

Machining methods

Larch is a softwood, yet it is about the hardest of all softwoods. That characteristic means you can successfully work it with hand or power tools, if you keep all tool cutting edges sharp.

  • Like many other softwoods, the resin or pitch in larch will build up on your saw blade. To avoid the burning and blade wander that accompany this buildup, always use a Teflon-coated blade or every so often stop and clean the blade with steel wool dampened with acetone.
  • Larch's straight grain, plus its hardness, gives it a tendency to splinter. A backing board reduces this when you rout cross-grain.
  • The hardness of larch requires drilling pilot holes for all nails and screws before assembly.
  • Except for the very highest appearance grades, larch boards will contain small, tight knots. These tend to blunt cutting edges, so use only carbide-tipped cutters and blades. You'll also want to seal the knots with shellac before applying a clear finish to prevent bleed-through.
  • The resin in larch reacts unfavorably with paint, unless you first seal the wood with diluted shellac or conditioner. Stain and clear finishes work well.

Continued on page 6:  Carving comments


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