Today on woods for carving we have cypress! hmm… is cypress good for carving? how about whittling, can we use our whittling knives on cypress and produce something decent?
Cypress Bald of biological name Taxodium distichum is normally found In wet regions and swamps. Bald cypress lumber is truly at home in the water. In fact, it is often used on bridges and docks.
Cypress is a softwood that grows quickly it’s common in marsh areas and has secured its place in the construction industry. But is it as popular among woodcarvers?
Cypress is a good wood for carving that cuts with the right amount of ease. Cypress knees are also very popular with carvers and whittlers alike. Cypress wood may vary widely with some being very hard and can be frustrating to carve with knives. Some other types are so soft but will splinter easily.
So for someone that has some cypress logs or a cypress knee what should they know before starting?
Is cypress good for carving – The good the bad and the ugly
The durability of cypress wood
Cypress although coniferous (softwood) has qualities of deciduous (hardwood) woods. Just like Cedar cypress wood produces oils. These oils known as cypressene make the wood water-resistant and very durable.
Such qualities are admired by any woodcarver. Carvings are artworks and good works need to be created with quality material. Cypress in this case makes up for some good carving material.
It is worth noting, that the cypressene oils are released as the tree ages. Therefore, wood from a young cypress tree may not have enough of these oils yet. That’s why you will hear seasoned woodworkers say the cypress today is not as good as that of a few decades ago. If it is harvested too young the quality and durability may not compare.
What about Leyland cypress? Can you carve leylandii
Cypress is soft to moderately hard
Cypress Janka’s rating is around 510 making it not so hard to even whittle. Keep your tools sharp and your cypress will not put a lot of resistance. However, this comes at a compromise to how much detail it can hold.
Cypress will decently hold grain but nothing too thinly fancy. For whittlers, it is perfect for giving just the right amount that is desired in this minimalistic craft.
If you’re wondering if you can whittle cypress, worry not for it can be whittled. Though, there may be variance in hardness depending on age and conditions of growth for every cypress wood. Still, with the hardness it’s just the added chore and patience otherwise, it will still respond to whittling.
Cypress: A cheap way to enjoy whittling
There’s no doubt that basswood is our favorite wood for carving but it may not be locally available. Basswood is also expensive, if you’re starting out you may want a cheaper option.
For most places, cypress will be the cheapest yet whittling-friendly wood available. With a few bucks, you can get a few cypress blocks or cypress knees from your local lumberyard and you’re good for a long time.
What are Cypress’s knees?
Cypress trees grow in swamp areas. Marshlands and swamps have very loose soil, to gain stability the root systems of cypress trees developed some burl that grows above the swamp water and mad. These raised limbs are what we refer to as cypress knees.
Can you carve a cypress knee?
Cypress’s knees are usually hard as they dry. The knees are solid just like the cypress wood prompting the question, can they be carved?
Cypress knee can be carved. In fact, they have been carved for many years. Their shape is of interest to whittlers and carvers interested in wood spirits, gnomes, and figurines.
wrapping up: how carvable is cypress
Cypress is quite carvable and many artists will only carve cypress as a preference. So to answer is cypress good for carving we have looked at all the fancy reasons that make cypress desirable to whittlers and cavers alike. If you have some cypress don’t waste any more time! jump in and start having fun carving.
check out more woods for carving
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