|Posted by PC on November 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM|
The Background of the Sinker Cyprus wood used in this Top
The Disk of these Pirouette SpinTops™ is made from a tree called Chinaberry. The tree is in the Mahogany family and it NOT liked by people that have it growing in their property. But Wood Turners love it because it has very rich dark tan colors and a lot of shimmer in the wood usually found in Walnut and other fine hard woods.
The Chinaberry tree is native originally to northern India, the Himalayas, China, Indochina, Southeast Asia and Australia. It was first introduced into the southern regions of the United States around 1830. It grows as far north as New York State, but floureshes south of Virginia.
This piece comes from the south eastern region of Louisiana, in St. Helena Parish. The Chinaberry tree was cut down during construction of a house, but it was not wasted. A large beautiful dining room table was crafted from the tree and several pieces found their way to my workshop where I fashioned them into the Toy Tops you see before you.
The stem, launching handle and ‘pull’ come from the waters of Lake Mary, Mississippi. The wood type is referred to by the locals, as ‘Sinker Cypress’. This tree was originally cut down in the 1850’s around the Homochitto River (pronounced "ho-muh-CHIT-uh").
The loggers would fell the trees straight into the water where they would be formed into a large floating mat. When the mat was a big as possible, the loggers moved it downriver to the mill. Along the way a few of these huge cypress trees sank to the bottom of the river. There they lay, unnoticed for more than 125 years.
This piece used in the making of this Top was removed in the mid-70’s by a 33 year old man and his 12 year old son. The log took several days to rise from the grip of the river bottom. It was hot, tiresome work, but once it rose, it was hulled to his land. When they pulled the old log from the river, they counted the rings to determine the age of the tree when it was felled. It was over 150 years old. It was then cut up into 2" thick boards, stacked with spacers between the boards and covered under tin roofing material. This is where it stayed for 2-3 years until fully dried. Air-drying takes about one year per inch of thickness.
Sinker Cypress logs can bring in $15,000 to $20,000 a piece depending on diameter and quality of the wood.
If you do the math, the tree was cut down at 150 years old. It lay on the river bottom for about 125 years. It was pulled up from there around 1975 which is about 40+ years ago. This makes the wood around 315 years old. The date of the beginning of this trees start is aproximately 1702 AD.