Has anyone done any work with ebony? After speaking with Hearnes Hardwoods it sounds like it's very hard on tooling. I would like to hear some firsthand accounts of this if anyone has the experience.
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor T:
The entire scope of my knowledge: it seems to machine similarly to most hardwoods and it splits easily (that's why it comes dipped in wax). It's very expensive. I've only used it for splines and plugs for furniture, and what I've used has been gaboon ebony.
Price is topping $100 per board foot. Also, even at that price, a lot that is sold has terrible cracks running through it rendering it absolutely unsound, so it really needs to be bought by the piece, with photos and from a reliable source. Drying is extremely difficult so most sold is of highly variable moisture content and the wood is subject to cracking in service if not fully dry before using.
Wipe joints and glue only with epoxy (for solids). If you need to do end grain to end grain or end grain to grainwise don't expect to get away with biscuits; you will need tenons or mechanicals. The first I did I glued stock side to side with yellow glue in several places to obtain the needed widths and shapes. All of the joints failed. The best finish is sanding to high number, oil, wax and buff. I have had luck with McFadden vinyl sealer under their nitrocellulose guitar finish. Not hard to work with except slight brittleness. Not rough on tooling. I have never tried to carve it, but I believe that would not be easy.