I am a Missouri farmer for 39 years. The winter killed most all of my beautiful 35-40' crepe myrtle. What apparently hard wood! I wonder if anyone has any experience with it? How does it work? Does it have value? Suggestions?
If its anything like the Myrtlewood in Oregon it is sought after for turning quality and making furniture. I thought it was quite rare only growing in Oregon and Israel so this must be a similar species.
Lester, Welcome to the Router Forums! I have done a good bit of work with Crepe Myrtle. It is an amazingly hard wood! I have worked with many species and of the ones I have worked with, it is undoubtably the hardest. I live in Auburn, GA, which for us was an 18 mile move from Lawrenceville, GA - which is called "Crepe Myrtle City".
Crepe Myrtle's are an amazingly drought-tolerant tree and many parts of Georgia are decorated with them - and many also "volunteer" as a result of the ornamental plantings. Because of their drought resistance - they are especially popular in and around parking lots - where there is often minimal rain-runoff. They bloom (here) in several colors - usually a color unique to a specific tree, but occasionally one will have blooms of two colors on the same tree.
I see Crepe Myrtle grown in two manners:
(#1) is my favorite. Just leave it alone and let it grow into a beautiful and magnificent tree. Eventually some of the extremely thin bark will begin falling-away and this simply adds to the character. These are the trees where the best "lumber" will be found.
(#2) is very common, but "tacky" in my opinion! Many people and landscapers cannot leave them alone and cut them back annually - this causes a "concentration of blooms" closer to ground level. It also causes the tree to appear like an arthritic spider.
The only way I have been able to work the wood is when it is green. "Green" crepe myrtle is still quite dry and still extremely dense and hard wood. Once it has air-dried for a few months - it is next-to-impossible to work with.
Predrilling holes is necessary for screws, nails or bolts. I imagine glues would work, because there is zero oily feel to the dried wood. MicroPlane makes a rotary cutter that works when chucked into a drill press - for smoothing edges. Without the very best of drill bits - it burns when drilled. Rip cuts and crosscuts must be done with a good safety plan because it will stall most saws. It dulls blades very quickly!
If you will cut it with a very sharp chainsaw into 4- foot pieces. Stack it somewhere standing on ends for a few months - you will have some beautiful logs for rustic furniture, or in my case - I use it in reptile cages.
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