I have been given some oak wood that is very dense and almost as hard to saw as steel. It wears out saws, saw blades, and router bits as if they were wood and the material was steel – not vice versa. It seems to me that the older wood gets, the harder it is to cut, saw and chisel. Is that your experience?
Michael Dresdner: Interesting observation, but I must admit not one that I have experienced, with the singular exception of petrified wood, a very different situation. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of wood get weaker over time, mostly due to rot, bugs, breakdown due to sunlight and oxygen, and fatigue from stresses.
I do agree that one often comes across particular pieces of wood that show characteristics beyond the norm for the species. Usually, I regard these the same way as I regard Tour de France star Lance Armstrong – a normal member of our species with abnormal abilities.
Rick White: Definitely, if you’ve got old-growth, it does seem like it gets brittle or more hard. In trees from old-growth cuttings, if you look at them, the grain is much tighter – not as open – and the pores are nice and tight. You can tell it’s a slower growing (and harder) tree.