Pear wood is a high quality wood used for carving and to make small ornamental items. Although there are 20 different types of pear tree, this kind of wood usually comes from the common pear tree and the Swiss pear tree. It has a different appearance to other types of wood as the grain is more subtle. Pear wood is usually a distinctive mixture of brown and pink, but planks can contain colour shifts to a more purple or orange pink colour.
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Use sharpened tools. Although it has a fine, smooth texture that makes it a perfect carving wood, pear wood is a very hard material, and while it does not contain much interlocking grain, you will need a sharp hand plane to take shavings from it. When working with pear wood, remember to sharpen your tools regularly, otherwise carving the wood will take more effort and could result in uneven surfaces.
Create small items. Pear trees are small and the timber can be expensive. Planks longer than 3 meters and wider than about 0.7 meters are unusual, so you should only use pear wood for smaller items, such as boxes and chairs.
Use the whole trunk. According to furniture maker David Savage, pear wood is unusual as the sap wood (the wood at the edge of the trunk) is very similar to the heart wood (the wood at the centre of the trunk). Therefore, you can use wood from all parts of a pear tree trunk without affecting the aesthetics of your piece.
Dry the wood carefully. If you need to dry your pear wood before using it, ensure you place enough weight on top of the wood as it can twist during the drying process. Layer the wood in between sticks so that air can reach it, but then place two or three tons of timber on top of the drying stack to weigh the wood down and prevent it from changing shape.
Alter the colour of the wood using steaming or alcohol. Steaming the wood during the drying process darkens the pink colour and finishing the wood in alcohol will also produce a darker hue. Steaming also kills any insects inside the pear tree that might damage the wood while it is drying.
Tips and warnings
- Varnish the finished pear wood piece to protect the surface from scratches and marks.
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