Monday, 31 January 2011

Jellutong wood - Good or Bad?

After calling a number of wood mechants I still couldn't find a local source of Lime wood. The only other option I found is Jellutong which lucky one of the timber suppliers R.A. Bamptons in Southampton had in stock. Jellutong is a very nice carving wood similuar to Lime but the only issue is that it's harvested from rainforests where deforestation for timber is endangering a number of animal habitats in the process. It is one of the reasons why our workshop do not stock it anymore because of environmental issues.

'Jellutong grows in Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and southern Thailand. Along with balsa it is technically a hardwood with many similar properties such as the low density, straight grain and fine texture mean it is easy to work with.

In addition, jelutong can be tapped for latex and from the 1920s through the 1960s, jelutong latex was an important source of chewing gum. Sawdust from this species has been known to cause allergic dermatitis (inflammation, itchy rashes or irritation).

Jelutong has been traditionally overharvested, and is a threatened species in many areas. However, due to its quick growth, hardy survival, and strong replanting efforts, its extinction is unlikely. It is a protected species in parts of Malaysia and Thailand.'

As the extract says above Jellutong can cause some irritation to the skin. After working two weeks with it I have found the backs of my hands and fingers have become slightly irritated and itchy from the saw dust when carving. Washing my hands regularly and keeping them moisturized have now stop any irritation after working.

My personal views on Jellutong are at first I was just really glad I had found a local source of good carving wood after failing to find Lime. I'm It is a real joy to carve in and I believe I wouldn't have gotten the same results have not used in traditional wood and craft skills. But after reading up on Jellutong and its environment effects it leaves me with mixed feelings. I maybe low on morals but I want to use the best materials possible to bring my personal models to their full potential regardless of where they come from or how they are made. From a clients point of view though they may feel differently about the issues and I obviously would respect that and go about the project in a different manager. 

Wikipedia (2011) Dyera costulata - Jellutong [Online]. Availble from: [Accessed: 31 January 2011]

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