Typical of locusts, the Black Locust tree has a pretty invasive reputation. Its tendency to grow aggressively has made this tree more dreaded than loved by most homeowners.
But does that mean the Black Locust wood is entirely useless? If not, what is Black Locust wood good for?
Black Locust is incredibly hard and dense, making it fitting for hardwood applications like flooring, furniture, boat building, and veneer. Its uncommon durability and resistance to rot and insect attacks enable this wood to thrive in outdoor applications like fencing posts and railroad ties. Interestingly, this wood doesn’t cost much (compared to other hardwoods) and is readily available and eco-friendly.
The Black Locust wood is an exciting choice for artisans looking for strength but on a budget. To better analyze the applicability of this wood, let us explore some of its characteristics like strength, grain, toxicity, and longevity.
What is Black Locust wood made from?
Black Locust wood is derived from the Black Locust tree. Scientifically known as Robinia pseudoacacia, the Black Locust tree originates from the Appalachian Mountain range.
Over the years, the Black Locust has spread through Southern Canada even as far as Europe and Asia. Such expansion can be traced to the Black Locust’s ruggedness and rare capacity to adapt to different soil types and microclimates.
Physically, the Black Locust tree commonly grows up to 100 feet but rarely below 40 feet. Its radius can be anywhere from one to two feet.
There are extraordinary circumstances where a Black Locust tree can grow as tall as 171m and as wide as 2.5 feet in radius.
How strong is Black Locust Wood?
The Black Locust is a really tough guy – with such remarkable strength being transferred to its lumber. This wood boasts a hardness value of 1700 lbf on the Janka scale.
Its density is no less attractive, running up to 700 kg/m3. You would labor to break the Black Locust wood’s fiber by hand.
These strengths make the Black Locust suitable for woodworking applications requiring high levels of tolerance and resilience.
What does Black Locust wood look like?
Black Locust is quite attractive, with its color ranging from chocolate brown to greenish-yellow. This is usually when the wood is fresh.
As it ages, it darkens to a deeper tone of brown, typically with a reddish tinge. It shares some resemblance – in color and grain – with Honey Locust.
This wood seldom has knots. It is rare to see wood as strong as the Black Locust yet with a lesser frequency of blemishes.
Craftsmen channel the aesthetic capacities of Black Locust wood in producing premium finishes, commonly in cabinetry and furniture. We will learn more about this down this guide.
What is the grain of Black Locust wood?
The Black Locust has a distinctly straight grain. The texture comes moderately coarse.
The end grain has an exciting combination. It has a ring-porous pore arrangement.
Black Locust’s end grain is filled with tyloses. Tyloses are basically outgrowths springing out on secondary heartwood – precisely on the xylem vessels’ parenchyma cells. The spacing is regular with clearly identifiable growth rings.
How well does Black of Locust wood last?
What if we told you that the Black of Locust wood could last up to 100 years without rotting?
Yes, this wood is esteemed for its rare durability, holding up against outdoor weather elements and rot and insects.
This explains why Black Locust wood is commonly preferred for outdoor construction projects.
Is Black Locust tree toxic?
Black Locust is not poisonous.
Nonetheless, there have been cases where interaction with Black Locust has caused skin irritation and eye itching. Cases of nausea have also been reported, however rarer.
Can you use Black Locust wood for firewood?
Absolutely YES! Black Locust is a fantastic choice for your fireplace or as a fuel source.
A cord of seasoned Black Locust wood can produce heat up to 29.3 million BTUs! Unbelievable, isn’t it?
But the Black Locust does more than just heat. Compared to the notorious likes of Maple and pine that load your space with smoke fumes, Black locust wood gives you a clean burn, producing minimal smoke content.
The smell is also worth commending. The odor Black Locust emits while burning is generally mild.
If you have burned wood with obnoxious odors like Buckeye, you will appreciate how modestly Black locust smells when used as firewood.
Spark management is another advantage the Black Locust wood has. You would risk an explosion if you were unfortunate enough to attempt lighting a wood like Catalpa.
It is less dangerous with Black locust wood. When ignited, there are far fewer sparks, making it safer for use as firewood.
How workable is Black Locust wood?
Well, our workability ratings for Black Locust wood alternate between positive and negative.
Let us start with the positives.
You can’t help admire how readily Black Locust wood responds to steam bending and lathe turning. It also tales finishes (and glues) exceptionally.
Over to the negatives.
Black Locust wood’s extreme density makes it a war trying to machine it. It can also blunt your cutting edges.
Woodworkers commonly complain of Black Locust wood’s tendency to split when being worked on. Nevertheless, the good news is that you can correct this handicap by applying a stabilizer or sealant.
A good choice of a stabilizer will go a long way in preventing shrinkages and drying up. By buffering the Black Locust’s internal wood content from exterior conditions like air, the internal moisture of your Black Locust wouldn’t rapidly evaporate.
This procedure can be monumental in avoiding cracks and splits when working on Black Locust wood.
How much does Black Locust wood cost?
Let us start by saying there is no universal price for Black locust wood. As you would expect, this wood’s price varies with the location you are buying it and the seller.
If you buy Black Locust wood from areas where it grows naturally, like the Appalachian Mountain, you can get it for cheap.
In the Eastern regions of the United States, Black Locust wood sells for almost the same price as White Oak.
But in areas where the Black Locust tree is not native, you anticipate paying a fortune.
What can you use Black Locust wood for?
Woodworkers love black Locust wood. It is expansively deployed across niches like flooring, furniture making, veneer, boat building, and even mine timbers.
Because Black locust wood is very resistant to insects and rot, engineers readily choose it for construction projects where they need materials of sustainable structural integrity.
Therefore, you often see such engineers leveraging Black Locust wood in rail ties and building boats.
Black Locust is also popularly used in making decks. This is because this wood, aside from lasting long, minimally slips.
Aside from the resilience, the aesthetic awe of Black Locust wood makes it a choice material for building luxurious furniture pieces. When used, it gives such furniture pieces a rich golden hue that beautifully darkens as it ages.