The term lacewood has long been applied to the quartersawn wood of American sycamore, London plane, and most specifically Australian silky oak (the scientific name given above). The first two are related, while the third is not a true oak at all. Sycamore, also called buttonwood (its seeds were used by early settlers as crude buttons), has held only a minor role in domestic woodworking, even though it grows over much of the eastern half of the United States.
A reputation for significant shrinkage and warping is one reason for its infrequent use, but this is only deserved by plain sawn sycamore. Quartersawn stock offers average to good stability. Generally good working properties are typical with lacewood, but be sure to use very sharp cutting edges to minimize binding. To really highlight the figure, try finishing lacewood with a few coats of oil and then follow with a coat of wax. When ordering any of these species, make sure the wood has been quartersawn, or you won't be getting lacewood.
Sycamore should only be used indoors since the wood has little decay resistance. London plane has similar properties, but it is slightly darker and heavier than sycamore. Australian silky oak is a considerably more expensive version of lacewood, with a dramatic appearance, and is probably best saved for small projects, or as an accent wood on larger pieces.
Wood grain images provided by HobbitHouseInc.com