Australian Pine Live Edge Mirror

On one of our many boating trips to a favorite nearby beach we stumbled upon an Australian Pine rolling in the surf.  As it was a hazard to navigation, I pulled it out of the surf and dragged it up on the beach.  It was pretty large, roughly 25 feet long.  This was back in April 2019.  Australian Pine (also known as She Oak)  look like a pine tree and grows along the shores of the intercoastal waterways in Florida.  They are considered an invasive species.   They have long needles and  are incredibly hard (2,920N on the Janka scale). It is the hardest wood I have ever worked.  

Normally when I am at parks, I treat the wood as off limits, but in this case it was [A] from an invasive species and [B] was only in the park because I dragged it ashore. So I felt ok about dragging it home.  The problem????  I could barely move it.  I needed a saw.  Next weekend we came back with a saw.  My son cut off an end and declared it his.  I cut off a 6 foot section and declared it mine.  The dockhand, when we returned must have thought we were a little goofy unloading wood from the boat.

Anyway… a month later my son wanted to make his mom a coat rack with the wood for her birthday.  So here is the story of the build from May of 2019.

We sketched out what a live-edge mirror frame would look like and went from there.  I used a wire brush on the outside to remove what I thought was all the sand.  Then I used my bandsaw to cut the wood into 4 small slabs.  Wow was I wrong.  It was loaded with sand.  The teeth on the bandsaw were sparking as I was making the cuts and by the time we were done, the teeth on the sawblade were almost gone.  Free wood just became very costly as I needed a new bandsaw blade.

No plane was going to touch this wood as the sand would have ruined my blades. So I decided to fight sand with sand.  I used my Makita belt sander  to flatten the slabs.  The bench dogs keep the belt sander from ejecting them off the end of the sawbench.

Eventually they were in pretty good shape but they had some voids and punky sections that needed some help that only epoxy could give.

We used Amazing Clear Cast with some Pearl Ex emerald pigment to fill in the voids.

One of the sections was split pretty bad, so I used a clamp to hold it together while the epoxy cured.

 

More sanding cleaned up the over-pour.

This design called for three blacksmithed coat hooks, so we fired up the forge.  Unfortunately I have no photos of the blacksmithing.  Striking while the iron is hot, does not lend itself to taking photos.  Also trying to hold the camera while also holding the iron tongs while my son swings the hammer is a recipe for someone to get hurt.

The wood was joined together with half-lap joints.  I had a straight cutting bit for my router that was in pretty bad shape, so I used that to cut the half-laps and rout out the recess for the mirror.  This worked pretty well, but again the sand rendered the bit useless by the time I was done.

To attach the three hooks we used clenched nails because they were strong, and fit the style of the blacksmithed hooks pretty well.  Here is my son drilling the holes for the clenched nails.  The hooks are in the lower left corner of the photo, and the cheap Walmart mirror that would provide the glass is in the background over his right shoulder.

In most pine, the nails would have clenched just fine.  This pine is so hard, I had to use a small gouge to remove some wood to create a space for the nail to bend into.

Here you can see the routed recess for the mirror glass, as well as the key hole style brass used to hang the mirror securely on the wall.

For  a finish we just used some Zinsser shellac spray to make it a quick finish as we were trying to get it done in time for being a birthday gift.  

 

I like the pinkish hue of the Australian Pine as it looks a bit like red cedar but is so much more dense.

The iron hooks definitely look hand made. … mainly because we are not very consistent in our blacksmithing yet…. still working on improving our skills.

 

I like the character of the wood, the live edges, the color variations and the epoxy. 

 

 

In hindsight I should have made the dimensions a wee bit smaller as the mirror is a tight fit into this spot.  

The mirror is a great place to hand a purse or jacket, and is  also a great reminder of a fun day on the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

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