The Seduction of Sycamore
Sycamore trees lined the tree lawns along my street in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. One year their bark began to shed excessively, and I wondered if they were diseased, like the elm trees in neighboring Shaker Heights, which were ravaged by the elm beetle. I was relieved to discover that excessive bark shedding is common for the sycamore tree, as the bark is rigid and is incapable of stretching in proportion to the growth of the tree. Little did I know that the sycamore would provide beautiful wood for my future woodworking projects ( I was not even woodworking in Ohio).
While attending Santa Fe Community College, engrossed in its excellent woodworking program, one of my instructors brought in some sycamore for me. Since sycamore is not a stable wood for making furniture, it is most often used for veneering, as it displays an interesting grain pattern known as ray fleck, which is often prominent in quarter sawn oak and beech.
Quarter sawn lumber is wood that is cut radially into 4 quarters, hence the word “quarter sawn.” Quarter sawn wood is often used in drawers, as it expands and contracts at approximately half the rate of flat sawn wood, the most inexpensive way for a sawyer to mill lumber.
I have introduced sycamore into my woodworking, as it offers a beautiful contrast to walnut. I have used it in my custom wood jewelry boxes, custom tea boxes, custom wood cremation urns and table tops. Please peruse my website to witness some examples of sycamore.