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Taiwanese Pecky Hinoki Table

Discussion in 'Woodworkers' Completed Projects' started by Byron Barker, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Byron Barker

    Byron Barker Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    For starters, I didn't make this and don't really feel the guy did a great job with his design or joints. Now that that is over, I wanted to share this table I saw for sale today and explain why it is special. Taiwanese logging is completely outlawed (and I do mean everything) due to the Japanese over harvesting Hinoki, yew and incense cedar trees during their occupation of the island. They forced local aboriginal groups to harvest some pretty incredibly large old growth trees high in the mountains and then build rail lines to haul the trees out. The wood is second to none for building purposes and was highly commodified by the Japanese and later of course the Taiwanese government. Needless to say, you won't be finding any freshly cut slabs of Hinoki. What you will find are old house beams from the Japanese era when they colonialized the East Coast of the Island (where I live). So, many of the old houses that are getting torn down now for more modern concrete monstrosities are all Hinoki or Incense Cedar. Since the wood that was used was coming from trees that were typically well over a thousand years old, most of the beams have those black veins present of wood that got infected in older trees and subsequently rotted away around good wood. The cool thing about these beams is you can send them through a planner just one or two times and suddenly you have amazing smelling and looking wood with very little effort. I thought you guys might like to see it. I guess it is similar to pecky cypress you'd have in America. Bet Hinoki smells a lot better though. Like freshly squeezed oranges. If you want any more info, let me know and I can send you some. Enjoy.

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  2. Nature Man

    Nature Man Member Full Member

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    When the older homes are razed is it possible to scavenge the wood and repurpose it? Chuck
     
  3. Byron Barker

    Byron Barker Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Yes, it is trendy right now for bars and salons in Taiwan to use the wood for walls and window frames as well as tables and even lamps. I wouldn't try using it for something structural because you just don't know what that rot did to the interior of the beam. Sometimes you'll have a vein going clean through a beam. Looks really nice, but at that point, I wouldn't trust it to hold up my roof!
     
  4. Mr. Peet

    Mr. Peet Member Full Member

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    Byron,

    At one time the Japanese hoarded Hinoki for caskets. I remember in the 90's they were using our Port-Orfort Cedar as a substitute. Remind me, what species of Incense cedar you were speaking of.
     
  5. Byron Barker

    Byron Barker Member Full Member Thread Starter

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    Peet, Taiwanese incense cedar is Calocedrus formosana. It is considered to actually be a slightly higher grade wood than Hinoki, probably because there is significantly less of it. There is very little of it growing wild although many people will cultivate it. I actually made a bow out of that a few years back. Very good wood with a sort of sandal wood scent. The Chinese and Japanese also liked to harvest a species of Fir they called "coffin tree"....for obvious reasons. I imagine Hinoki was reserved for wealthy people. Interestingly, the Ming Chinese also over harvested Camphor and Cow Camphor that are on the island for building temples on the Mainland. The cow camphor (Cinnamomum kanehirae) never really recovered well since it is such a slow grower as compared to common camphor and has issues propagating. It is one of the most expensive woods to buy in Taiwan if you can find it. Its like camphor x10. Almost makes you nauseous working it the fumes are so strong coming out of it once cut. The largest population of common camphor on the planet is now Taiwan. It is all over the place. It has deep roots, so it is good for landslide protection. Taiwan is so mountainous and has such heavy rains from time to time that this is a desirable trait in a tree. There is nothing like walking down a camphor lined street in the heat of summer. Smells awesome.
     
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  6. barry richardson

    barry richardson Moderator Staff Member Global Moderator Full Member

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    Really enjoy the info Byron, thanks for posting!
     
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