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Camphor Wood - how to eliminate odor

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  • Camphor Wood - how to eliminate odor

    my neighbor has a camphor tree that will be trimmed back soon.
    some of the limbs are maybe 8" in diameter and I was thinking of
    harvesting some of it for tool handle turnings and whatnot.
    I am not overly fond of the camphor "odor" . . . so my question is:
    in a finished product, does this smell go away after it is dried and varnished ???
    and - how bad is the stink while doing the actual turning.
    I will probably cut the wood into 12-14" chunks and seal the ends
    and store in my very warm metal tool shed to cure.
    and if the odor is so bad that I can not work with it, I will pass it on
    to whoever wants to pay postage and be done with it.
    it is the type of camphor tree that has the little black very obnoxious berries.

    Edit: saw some videos on the good ole YouTube that sort of answered my questions.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZrLmdB6Fp4
    every fiber in my body CRINGED while watching this video having flashbacks
    of my recent injury - - - I can not imagine that hunk of wood hitting me in the face !!
    Last edited by J.H.Smith; 12-02-2017, 05:30 PM. Reason: found the answer on youtube

  • #2
    Hi Johnny,
    I like camphor wood, including the aroma, and I turn a fair amount of it (its a very forgiving wood), but it can be managed after the work is completed by sealing/finishing.

    However, during the turning process, your whole shop will smell of it. It'll get on your clothes and shoes (via the shavings), and you'll smell of it. If you have some way to ventilate the area around your lathe to outside the shop, it may help a little, but its the shavings that propagate the smell, and if you use a dust collector at the lathe, that is pretty much an air pump to further disperse the aroma into the shop and hold it there until you empty the collector. The smell in the shop does go away in about a week.

    Try a piece and see if you can work with it. I prefer ash for tool handles if you have a local source, but the camphor will work, its just a little softer and would likely dent a little more if whacked or dropped. In the sizes you describe, small bowls or a lidded canister/box is nice. If you then decide its too much to bother with, let me know how much you can get in a flat rate box or two.
    Bill in Buena Park

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    • #3
      Bill - the shavings, dust and vacuum discharge never occurred to me - much less the "aroma" getting stuck in my clothes.

      I am going to pass on the idea of ever turning camphor - - - will get in touch with you when cutting of the tree begins.
      do you want treated ends ? or is that something you would like to do yourself.
      I can arrange it to where I cut the tree in the morning and a box can go in the mail that afternoon.

      Johnny in Central Florida
      Where the Palm Trees meet the Ocean

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