Working with Balau Wood

A dense, durable tropical hardwood that is rough on blades, Balau is good for outdoor features such as decks. April 4, 2011

Question
I need to make some posts and hand railing out of mangaris to match the decking material. Does anyone know the milling/working properties of this wood?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor E:
From a Google search: The wood is brittle and often splinters when it is cut down. The wood is also incredibly hard and contains silica, making cutting it down a difficult process. With the decline of more accessible hard woods however, tualangs are being cut down for timber, and are being sold under the name of mangaris wood. The tualang is protected under Sarawak's Wildlife Protection Bill of 1990.



From contributor J:
I really like mangaris. It's not at all difficult to work, cuts and planes well (using proper carbide blades) and is very stable due to its interlocked grain. Mangaris is a trade name, the wood species is actually balau.


From contributor G:
Red Balau Family: Dipterocarpaceae

Distribution : Distribution: West Malaysia, Borneo , Indonesia and Philippines.

General Description : A hard, heavy, and very dense heartwood with interlocking grains. Moderately slight and even texture.

Color : Purple-red to dark red-brown

Weight: Average 850 kg/m 3 (53 lb/ft 3)

Specific Gravity : .93.

Mechanical Properties : Bending strength High Crushing strength High

Resistance to shock loads High Stiffness High Steam bending classification Moderate

Seasoning : The timber dries very slowly with considerable degrade in thicker sizes, but distortion is not serious. Checking and splitting may be severe and existing shakes are liable to extend. Boards should be partially air dried before kilning. Movement is medium in service.

Working Properties : The wood is moderately difficult to work with machines as the interlocking grain and toughness has a blunting effect on tools. Owing to the high density of the timber, the cutting angle should be reduced to 20 degrees when planning. It is unsuitable for nailing or screwing, gluing results are a variable and it is rarely necessary to stain the wood. It can be polished satisfactorily.

Durability : Very durable. Extremely resistant from insect attack, fungal attack, and preservation treatment.

Uses: Heavy construction work Bridges Wharf construction Sleepers Boats Etc.