Full Chisel Blog

June 3, 2013

First time working Cypress

One would think that having done woodworking for over 40 years I would have worked this wood before, but this is the first opportunity to work this particular species of wood.  I got some scrap pieces from a friend, I had told him I had not used the wood before so he gave me some cut off from a bathroom counter top he is making.

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Needing a new home for my soft Arkansas sharpening stone, I decided to make it from cypress as my others were made of pine.  Having worked a lot of pine, I thought that cypress would behave in a similar manner.  Much to my surprise it worked more like poplar than pine, with little end grain collapse of the softer spring wood.  I liked how it cut under a chisel, the router plane made smooth work of the inside mortise and it stood up well under a hand plane.

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In making the box I noticed that the stone was not symmetrical, one end was slightly wider than the other.  I fit it tight in the bottom but had to make the top a bit loose in order to fit on the stone in either direction.

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On the bottom of the sharpening stone box I used a long fine cut headless brad, pounded it in then cut it off with pliers to form small points to prevent it from slipping when in use.

I will not put a finish on the cypress and as you know I never use lubrication when I am sharpening only when I am cleaning the stone.

I generally keep my shavings separate and put them in my compost pile, however not the cypress, it won’t decompose.



  1. On Halloween 2011 you wrote… “I will mention my unusual method of sharpening on an oil/water stone in the near future.” Has this happened yet?

    Comment by Brock — June 3, 2013 @ 8:16 am

  2. Brock,
    It has Not happened yet and I don’t know why? I will do a post about this, I have mentioned it on other forums and just forgot to do it on my blog. Thanks for the heads up.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — June 3, 2013 @ 8:53 am

  3. Steve,

    Being from the South, I’ve worked quite a bit of cypress, unless your source is of some very old growth trees, this most certainly will decompose. The cypress of today is much more prone to decay than the old growth first cut variety. The trees have grown much quicker. But perhaps it’s true that it won’t decompose as fast as some varieties.

    I’m curious about two things. Why no finish on your stone box? And also, why don’t you lubricate when sharpening? This seems against the grain of what most teach. I’m asking to learn, not as criticism.

    And I wrote you a week or so ago about a rugged finish you would suggest for this very wood. You gave me some suggestions, but now that you have worked some, if your opinion has changed at all, please update me.



    Comment by pete van der Lugt — June 3, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

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