I know there are some lovely Aussie timbers that have good colour and finish reanlly smooth.
Sorry if this is
I'm part way through making a replacement mantel shelf for our living room fireplace. Softwood didn't seem right and I couldn't afford Timber Yard prices for hard wood. Then I remembered that we had a stack of five railway sleepers propping up part of the back garden garden.
They had previously been part of the base for my workshop, first in Essex and then in Southampton. When I moved the workshop here to East Hampshire we put it on a concrete base.
I bought them from a Garden Centre at Rayleigh, in Essex, and before that they had done who knows how many years service on the London Underground. They are Jarrah wood, from Australia. For those who haven't met Jarrah, it's a teak substitute, very long-lasting in damp situations and has vibration damping properties. It is a rich red in colour.
I've recounted all this history as evidence of Jarrah's durability!
We picked the best-looking one of the five and carefully removed any nails and embedded grit. Then my lovely but shy assistant and I cut it into boards, cutting first from top and faces with the electric hand saw and then removing the remaining material from between those two cuts using the 10" table saw (carefully, with the riving knife temporarily removed). The first table saw pass was hard work as we were man-handling the whole weight but it got easier as each succeeding slice was removed. A friend with a pro wood-working business kindly helped me by putting the boards through his big planer-thicknesser and matching the mating edges of the best two boards. Then we biscuit jointed them together, trimmed to length and worked a moulding on the front edge and the two ends.
All that was done before I joined Mad Modders and so I didn't take any photos. I'll try to take some when I perform the next stages of that project.
The job has been stalled for a while, I just need to glue two brackets to the underside of the shelf, finish sand it and then apply some hard wax. It remains to be seen how smooth a finish I can achieve.
Mick, please forgive me for hi-jacking your thread - maybe I should have posted this under 'New from Old'!!