Plum any good for making pistol grips?

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Quarterbore

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Mar 9, 2008
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We just had a thunderstorm roll through and it took out a plum tree that I had planted when our younger daughter was born (she is 17 now). I don’t have a chainsaw as my father has a bunch and I normally just borrow one but this was small enough I chopped it up with an axe.

In the process I got so see some very interesting color from purple, red and oranges to yellow and the figure looks pretty good too.

I know it has to dry so I can use a bow saw and get a couple good slabs. I also recall reading to paint the ends so that they don’t crack/split.

Before I go through the effort and stick a couple chunks in our climate controlled basement is it worth doing or is plum not worth the effort? Thinking for revolvers or possibly 1911.

Thanks in advance.

Edit to fix my spelling of plum
 

woodsy

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Seymour, CT
Considering the characteristics of most fruit trees, I would expect that plum (without the "b") would be at least acceptable for grips (speaking from many decades as a furniture-maker). However, the wood MUST be fully dried to prevent any future "movement" (from drying, etc.). A basement would be among the worst places to "age" the wood. Said wood should reach about 4-8 % humidity before being worked on. That won't happen in any basement outside of New Mexico, etc. in less than a year. Plus, it should be "quartersawn" if at all possible.
 

Quarterbore

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OK, so where is the best place to dry it? An attic that is likely 120-degrees most days this summer, a garage that is probably 85 to 90-deg, or under a bed in the house in the AC at say 73-deg?

I have a bandsaw and the pieces are no more than say 8-inches diameter so I can cut this any way that is needed. For grips I don’t need huge slabs but matching them up to each other could be the trickier consideration when cutting.

I got the limbs knocked off the main trunk and dragged it to the back yard so I can figure out my next move. I’ve also read I can turn it into wood chips for smoking meat so may save some for that too.

Never tried this before so need to let Google help me figure some of it out.
 

woodsy

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The drying of wood (commercially) is quite involved and employs thousands of people who do nothing but that all the time. Nowadays most wood is kiln-dried, essentially in a large oven with close control of the temperature and humidity and constant ventilation/circulation. You only have a small amount of wood so you cannot do that, unless you can find a kiln operator in PA who would include your wood in their process while doing their hardwoods. The wood should be ripped to near the final thickness first, no matter what. You can paint stripes onto the ends of the logs before you rip them, so that you can match them up later after they are dry. Then rip them to perhaps 1" thick, and separate the layers into a stack with some cheapo pine strips to keep an air gap between layers. Make the drying slow at first. If the wood is subjected to violent changes in temp it will try to twist and warp. Your suggestion of under a bed with A/C would be good, for about three months. Then you could go into the attic while approaching winter, when the attic temp won't get so hot. Keep it there about three months. After all that the attic temp might rise up enough in the spring, when the wood will be much more able to withstand the increased temps. If possible you could use an accurate scale and measure the rate of change in a small sample piece you are drying with the rest. You would see the weight falling quickly at first, then slowing down over time. When the weight stops dropping you would be just about done. I am doing that with some black birch I have which mother nature gave me last year. Alternatively you could get an el cheapo moisture meter from a supplier of woodworking tools and try for a final range of 7-10% moisture level. Wishing you luck and envious that you can use some of that plum as wood chips.
 

woodperson

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Sep 27, 2004
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Knoxville, TN
Yes, plum is a good wood for grips and other decorative objects. And if you can get the stump and rootball it can be real nice. Just coat the ends or your rough cut pieces with wax or latex paint and keep them in a dry area with some airflow. I really like to turn plum on my lathe. Now having said all that I still prefer walnut for grips. But that is just me. I have a walnut fixation in general.
 

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