turned cherry wood bowl

Spalted Iron Wood Clasp

This clasp is made of iron wood. Note that there is a bit more yellow in the color compared with the previous spalted maple clasp.

Every part of the world has a tree that it calls iron wood. This particular tree is American hornbeam. It is a relative of the beech tree and has a smooth, gray bark like the beech. However, it does not grow very large and the trunk is more irregular than the round trunk of the beech.

There is an interesting story about the wood in this picture. I was visiting my brother-in-law, Dr. Jim Krag, and his wife, Linda (of Knit Denise fame). They live in a lovely rural community called Batesville, outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jim, knowing of my interest in wood asked if I wanted any ironwood. I never, or almost never, refuse wood. So he went to fetch a saw. What he brought with him was not much of a saw in my opinion but then Jim is not a woodworker.

We went for a lovely walk and soon came upon an ironwood tree. I did the best I could with the saw but could not cut the tree down. Jim tried, and soon was as tired as I was, with no more to show for his effort. We finally gave up and continued our walk.

Soon we were down by a creek with high banks. As we rounded a curve there was an ironwood tree that had been freshly felled by beavers that live on the creek. They had eaten all the small branches that had fallen in the water and left the trunk for me on high ground. I simply put it over my shoulder and continued on the walk.

When we arrived back at the house I cut it into lengths that would fit in the car and took it home. Most of it I worked up fairly promptly, but I put aside a smaller piece and forgot about it.

Years later I found that piece and ripped it on my band saw. I was amazed to see the beautiful pattern the spalting had produced.

Since the diameter of the piece was small I could not think of a use for it just then, but was confident that an idea would come to me. I almost never discard a piece of wood.

When I started making these clasps I realized that the spalted iron wood was just the right size and it has become a real treasure. Now it is bringing pleasure to the many who wear or see these clasps worn.