Bubinga...Sweet or Stinky?


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This is from comments on a viewer project page, Earls Blanket Chest.http://thewoodwhisperer.com/earls-blanket-chest/

Johan Jacobs commented that he'd worked with bubinga and that it had a sweet smell when being worked. My experience was just the opposite on a piece I had worked with. It was a piece of 2 X 2 turning stock that was wax sealed and a bit wet inside. When drilling it it smelled very foul similar to cow manure. It was very strong and filled my shop and lingered for several hours. The odor also had gone upstairs and my wife complained about it. Other pieces weren't as strong as this one but still had anything but a sweet smell.

I was just wanting to hear other woodworker's experiences with bubinga. I also wanted to move the discussion here instead of it being in the comments on a viewer project page.

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Guest Screamer

Thanks for starting this topic Larry.

I watch one of Marc's videos were he constructed a beautiful gadget station using bubinga. Maybe he can commented what his experience with bubinga was.

Do all of the bubinga wood you worked with had that foul smelling, or was it just that one with the wax on?

Johan

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Guest Screamer

Hi. I've done some research and come up with this.

When bubinga is wet is stink. When it is dry it does not.

He are some links.

Check the fact sheet of bubinga under "odor"

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/bubinga.htm

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/bubinga/bubinga%20fact%20sheet.htm

And this:

http://www.woodworkerssource.com/show_tree_wood.php?wood=Guibourtia tessmannii

By freshly cut, I think he mean it is still green.

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I got some from a hardwood flooring sample. It stinks like open sewage when heated up during working. Tried to use a forstner bit on it and started it smoking right away stopped and sought other means to make my holes routing had same effect. Brace and bit reduced the way the smell spread through the shop but still had the odor and it was so hard that it took a long time to work it by hand. Wound up back at the drill press reduced the bit speed to lowest setting for best results and waited until no one was around to endure the stench. Still have a piece or two of it and it will be dry now so will try to drill a small hole and see what happens. That kind of smell made me very cautious of what I did around others with it knowing that sometimes these things can be quite toxic. I figure the wood was cut and treated on all sides for flooring while the wood was still a little moist. The covering would have kept the moisture in it. My shop is fairly moist so it may still do the same.

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I got some from a hardwood flooring sample. It stinks like open sewage when heated up during working. Tried to use a forstner bit on it and started it smoking right away stopped and sought other means to make my holes routing had same effect. Brace and bit reduced the way the smell spread through the shop but still had the odor and it was so hard that it took a long time to work it by hand. Wound up back at the drill press reduced the bit speed to lowest setting for best results and waited until no one was around to endure the stench. Still have a piece or two of it and it will be dry now so will try to drill a small hole and see what happens. That kind of smell made me very cautious of what I did around others with it knowing that sometimes these things can be quite toxic. I figure the wood was cut and treated on all sides for flooring while the wood was still a little moist. The covering would have kept the moisture in it. My shop is fairly moist so it may still do the same.

If the flooring came from a reputable company, the wood should have been properly dried. Perhaps you're smelling the finish?

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If the flooring came from a reputable company, the wood should have been properly dried. Perhaps you're smelling the finish?

Finish was removed just raw wood. I have asked around about it and no one had this experience around here but not many around here could afford this type of wood. The only reason I got it was it was part of a sample board for a showroom that had went to a different line of flooring. The wood had some type of finish around it on all sides the back was sprayed with something lightly. I just know for sure of the odor not why and moisture is speculation for sure. Considering the flooring was being sold as solid walnut I suspect the company was not entirely reputable. The top was definitely colored like walnut and the color of the light spray on the back was brownish colored. I noticed a lot of the samples I had were miss labeled another example of walnut is more like Asian oak only with a darker coloring. If the flooring were made over seas this might explain some of the mislabeling.

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Thanks for starting this topic Larry.

I watch one of Marc's videos were he constructed a beautiful gadget station using bubinga. Maybe he can commented what his experience with bubinga was.

Do all of the bubinga wood you worked with had that foul smelling, or was it just that one with the wax on?

Johan

I've smelled the bad smell on other pieces, but not as bad as that one. It was a little wet, but not as much as some I've worked with... more oily than wet, I'd say. What I was doing at the time was drilling out a 1-1/4" hole using a forstner bit. That was when the stink was the worst, but I've also smelled the same smell when turning some pens with bubinga. Perhaps it has to do with where it grew. I remember a piece of poplar I had one time that had a lot of purple in it and it also smelled like a cow patty. Then a bit later I was out at my cousin's farm and there was a large poplar growing near the pond where I was fishing where cows grazed and pooped and that made me wonder if being in that environment could impart some elements into the wood that caused the smell. That just made me wonder about the bubinga also, if some in one area could pick up smells that it didn't get in another area.

That's just some mental meanderings that have no basis in research or anything, just wondering. I do still have some of that one piece so I'll have to dig it out and turn something and see if it still has that smell.

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Hi. I've done some research and come up with this.

When bubinga is wet is stink. When it is dry it does not.

He are some links.

Check the fact sheet of bubinga under "odor"

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/bubinga.htm

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/bubinga/bubinga%20fact%20sheet.htm

And this:

http://www.woodworkerssource.com/show_tree_wood.php?wood=Guibourtia tessmannii

By freshly cut, I think he mean it is still green.

Thanks for posting the links. They're good to have.

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