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Is Crepe Myrtle Good for Carving?

Is Crepe Myrtle Good for Carving

Woodcarving is a wonderful thing to do. It’s a way to make personalized gifts for other people and produce useful objects around your home. So, knowing which woods are optimal for carving is crucial.

But is crepe myrtle good for carving? Yes, it can be. Although considered a softwood, it tends to be on the harder end of things. Therefore, your tools will have to be strong and durable. But, you can make a host of woodcrafts with crepe myrtle. Staffs, walking sticks and canes are some of the most ideal.

However, you can make other things like a bow for archery, tool handles and a host of wooden knickknacks with any type of lathe. It stands to note, though, that because crepe myrtle tends to be sparse, you won’t find a lot of it unless you’ve planted your own mini forest.

What Can You Carve Out of a Crepe Myrtle?

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As long as you have enough wood, you can carve almost anything out of a crepe myrtle. Their height can run as small as three feet to as much as 200 feet high. On average, however, they’re often somewhere between 40 and 60 feet tall. Unfortunately, you cannot buy this, you will have to find it outside.

So, the possibilities are endless depending on the size you have. The only thing limiting you is your own imagination. But, if you’re looking for some inspiration and ideas, consider the following:

  • Bottle Caps
  • Bowls
  • Bracelets
  • Children’s Block Toys
  • Coasters
  • Design Elements for Doors, Tables, Chairs and Bookshelves
  • Dice, Chess Pieces or Checkers Pieces
  • Incense Holder
  • Kitchen Utensils
  • Miniature Sculptures
  • Pieces for a Broken Chair
  • Plant Holders
  • Salt ; Pepper Shakers
  • Stands for Decorations (ie china, plates, fans, baseball cards and etc.)
  • Statuettes
  • Tea Light Candle Holders
  • Vases

To check the current price and availability of Schaaf Wood Carving Tools, click here to view the listing on Amazon.

Is Crepe Myrtle a Good Bow Wood?

While it is indeed very possible to make a bow for archery out of crepe myrtle, you will have to ensure you have the right thickness and length. This means you have to go for a branch that’s very straight naturally and sufficient to the dimensions of the person intended to use the bow.

But, if you do a search on places like YouTube, you will find a plethora of videos with crepe myrtle bows. They come in a host of styles and sizes too: longbows, crossbows, recurves and compounds. You can even make yumis, the exceedingly long traditional Japanese bow.

This is because of the wood’s propensity to curl upon working with it. Such a feature is very beneficial with bows and helps maintain its flexibility for years of use.

Is Crepe Myrtle Good for a Staff?

Staffs, canes and walking sticks are all good options to carve with a crepe myrtle. They are good for beginners to woodworking because there isn’t a lot of bark you have to peel off. Also, the inner and heartwood is moderately coarse, so there won’t be too much sanding either.

You can make them fancy as well. Try affixing gemstones, crystals, beads, ceramics and other little decorative elements to make it really stand out. You could also wrap it in something like leather to make it a practical and long-lasting cane to help someone walk better.

Use a solid preserving oil, like black walnut, to darken the wood and bring out the deeper tones. It helps prolong the life of your carving and protect it from damage. Also, crepe myrtles have characteristic curling that could make for a good shepherd’s or death crook if you were looking to make something original for Halloween.

What Are the Characteristics of Crepe Myrtle in Relationship to Carving?

The best way to understand a tree’s capability in woodcarving is to study its characteristics. Crepe myrtle, known by its scientific name as Lagerstroemia, is native to Southeast Asia and a classic softwood.

Once you strip away the bark, the heartwood will range between a reddish brown to a gold color with a sapwood that’s yellowish gray. The colors will darken upon exposure to light and aging. The grain is gorgeous too, being straight with some interlocking or waves. Such an appearance can give a striking bicolor dimension.

Natural Luster ; Moderate Coarseness

But it has a fantastic natural luster with a moderate coarseness to the texture. This makes carving with it easy and it produces a beautiful finished product. It is a semi-porous material, so using some kind of finishing oil and an oil reapplication on occasion will be necessary if you don’t lacquer it.

Wood Curls Upon Working With It

However, it’s important to note that crepe myrtle is notorious for it’s curling once you begin working with it. So, when you plan out whatever it is you’re going to make, take this factor into account. You can use the curl to work with your project rather than against it.

For instance, if you want to make a bowl, bracelet or bow, you can use the section that curls for the curvature in the item. Also, this curvature can add a 3D effect to whatever it is you’re carving.

Final Thoughts

Crepe myrtle is an excellent wood to use in carvings. You can make almost anything with it and it will look beautiful. It’s range of color and straight grain makes it excellent for a host of objects like mini planters, staffs, dice, bows for archery, children’s toys and so much more.

Because it’s relatively tough for a softwood, crepe myrtle is an excellent choice for those new to woodworking. But, you have to plan for the massive curling factor that will occur once you start working it down. So, use this curling to the advantage of your project.

Regardless, there’s not a lot of bark you have to remove. Yet, you should ensure your tools will be strong enough. Also, use something to finish off the wood after you sand it down. You can use a thick preservative oil, like black walnut, or a nice, solid lacquer.

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