Working with Lyptus

Cabinetmakers share experiences working with the tropical hardwood Lyptus. July 22, 2005

Does anyone have experience working with the tropical hardwood lyptus? My supplier is advocating this as a possible replacement for cherry in cabinets (both the hardwood and the plywood). Lyptus seems pretty dense and heavy, and that it might be hard on tooling. Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
My supplier told me that milling lyptus is about the same as hard maple and a bit tougher on your tooling. But I have yet to use lyptus, so I really don't know. Your supplier should be able to give you a copy of a Weyerhaeuser publication titled "Technical Recommendations for Milling, Gluing and Finishing of Lyptus."

From contributor G:
We have run a full kitchen in lyptus, and have been extremely pleased. It is heavy, but machines amazingly well. I would say it machines easier than hard maple. It also takes a stain extremely well, sands fairly easily, and has great yield (clear, long, and wide). The only negative I've found is that the guys in the shop complain about small splinters when handling.

From contributor J:
We did a lyptus job, and I will never work with it again. We had to replace 6 of 10 doors. We had a lot of moisture problems. It also was quite hard on the tooling.

From contributor D:
I have found lyptus to be stringy and tooled edges were not crisp. I would stick with cherry every time. By the way, some people (like me) are allergic to it. I had to get a cortisone shot after working with it.

From contributor F:
We built a hutch and library in lyptus, but for crown molding bought mahogany from the local molding store. It was hard to tell the difference between lyptus and mahogany after staining and finishing. Lyptus is a good substitute for mahogany, but not for cherry. As everyone says, stains great, looks great, it’s hard on tools, stringy, tough, and looks a lot like mahogany.

From contributor M:
I'm completing a bedroom set with lyptus, and I love it. Yes, the splinters will get your hands. But finished product (after machining and sanding) is not that way. It machines well for me. If you finish (clear lacquer for me) right after sanding, it will be a light salmon color. I recommend allowing some oxidation, even a little sunlight, after sanding before finishing to get a nice brownish-red, cherry color. Stains go on the lyptus well also.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor B:
I am currently building a boat using lyptus for components. I would normally use ash, white oak, or mahogany. For the transom it is ideal. For long structural members, its straight grain is an asset. It steam bends very well and holds its shape nicely. It is heavy and hard on hand tool blades. The sawdust is nasty; respiratory and eye protection is essential. It finishes beautifully however. For now I think its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.