Anyone Work With Osage?

Mikey NY

I have a large Osage tree on my property. Have a few good limbs on the ground. I may make some outdoor furniture from it. I have read it is quite a hardy wood. I may also make some other small things like cutting boards and stuff, assuming it is food safe. Anybody here have any experience working with it. ?

Scott Kocher

Re: Anyone work with Osage ?

:wave: hi mike I have never made any thing from it . but it is a pretty wood . if I'm not mistaking it might be tough to work with . I think it is a little stringy. it might make good deck boards for a engine cart . keep us posted on what u make with it
that's my thought :salute:

Bruce B.

New member
re: Anyone work with Osage ?

I did a quick search and found this:

"The heavy, close-grained yellow-orange wood is dense and prized for tool handles, treenails, fence posts, and other applications requiring a strong dimensionally-stable wood that withstands rot. Although its wood is commonly knotty and twisted, straight-grained Osage orange timber makes good bows, as once used by Native Americans. (In Arkansas, in the early 19th century, a good Osage bow was worth a horse and a blanket.) Additionally, a yellow-orange dye can be extracted from the wood, which can be used as a substitute for fustic and aniline dyes.

"When dried, the wood has the highest BTU content of any commonly available North American wood, and burns long and hot.

"Unlike many woods, Osage orange wood is durable, making good durable fence posts. They are generally set up green because the dried wood is too hard to reliably accept the staples used to attach the fencing to the posts. Palmer and Fowler's Fieldbook of Natural History (2nd edition), rates Osage orange wood as being at least twice as hard and strong as white oak.

"The Osage orange is commonly used as a tree row windbreak in prairie states, which gives it one of its colloquial names, "hedge apple". The sharp-thorned trees were also planted as cattle-deterring hedges before the introduction of barbed wire and afterward became an important source of fence posts."

Sounds like it'd be a good idea to make sure your woodworking tools are freshly sharpened before starting your project(s).

Be sure to post some pictures of your handiwork!

slip knot

Re: Anyone work with Osage?

Is the osage the same as our local Bois D Arc or bodark trees. if so then yes it makes for some really nice wood. I used them for fenceposts for years. once they've dried out you'll play hell cutting them with a chainsaw. once you get them down to manageable sizes the normal woodworking tools handle them fine. I rough square them on a band saw then true them up on the table saw. Everything I've done has been sold to knife and pen makers as blanks. I'm not much of a woodworker.


Re: Anyone work with Osage?

I know it’s a very hard wood when dry. Around this area they are known as monkey ball trees.
at the seniors center a man turned a bowel with it. I have seen some wood carvings done but it can turn darker. I do not know how stable it is or if a project may crack if not properly dried,

Glenn Ayers

Couple months ago a buddy gave me a couple Orange logs. Both about 20" - 24" ... one was about 9' long & the other about 7' long.
He was cutting up a bunch of nice straight Orange for firewood :eek:
My neighbor has a bandsaw mill & I had him saw it. Gave it to my step-dad ... cause he makes some pretty cool wood stuff.
He's made about 50 of these Canes & sold them. This one is Slippery Elm / Piss Elm .
He made one out of Orange a couple weeks ago ... but I didn't get a pic of it when I was down there for Christmas.
He's also made some really nice porch swings.


Over time (30 years), it will take on a deep brown-orange color if it had 3 coats of poly. finish put on it.---I have cut and used it some.--Looking at an arrow straight tree probably 50 feet tall and 15 to 20 inches in diameter, no branches for 30 feet.--Never saw one that straight before!, AND it's in MY fence row! LOL!!! --- Hope to get it down and cut into lumber in the spring.
Takes sharp tools and move fast with light cuts, or you will burn the wood beyond use!
I use all kinds of wood for my woodworking stuff! thanks; sonny


Just to follow up on what slipknot said... Bodark is a corruption of the French Bois d' Arc meaning "wood of the bow". The choice wood of the natives for making bows.

Joe B

Mikey NY

I was thinking about making a few small things like tool handles, and maybe turn a piece on the lathe for a bowl or some candlestick holders. There is some on the ground from a good size fallen limb, been there a while, no bark left on it. I bet that stuff is pretty well petrified hard. :bonk:
Many years ago I made a gavel for our blacksmith club from local materials. The cross peen hammer head was walnut, the handle was buckeye and the sounding board was lathe turned osage orange about 3" in diameter and 2" tall. Start with sharp tools and plan on sharpening them during the process.



We use it for fence posts, and to heat with in eastern Kansas. Hedge (as we call it here) has more btu/ft3 than anything that grows in the region, and even green, emits and extremely potent, almost volatile blaze.

I have a friend that is a luthier (musical instrument builder) who asked me to pick a straight one in the wild and bring it to the mill, where he had it slabbed, etc. His intention was to build part of a mandolin from it. He thought it would be neat to build an instrument, at least in part of native wood.

He studied up on working with it, kiln dried it, and did some practice runs. He is an accomplished, experienced builder, and is extremely meticulous in his demeanor, needless to say. It produced beautiful, eye-catching results.

Sadly, several months after he completed a fine looking mando with the neck and back made from hedge, it split. In disgust he removed it and resorted to traditional materials.

If you're interested in visiting with him, PM me and I'll gladly send you his number. He would be able to shed some light on the nuances of working with hedge, and has some experience with smaller parts built of it.

Best to all in '18.


25 years ago the Kansas City Star newspaper had an article on a guy that harvested it in eastern Kansas. He was grinding it to dust and shipping it to California where it was used for yellow dye. He was shipping it by the truckload and said he got $90 a pound but he wouldn't reveal his buyer.

On my farm I have hedge fence posts well over 100 years old and still in use. Its very dry out there and upper part of the post deteriorates but the part in the ground is still fine.

Mikey NY

I've also got some hackberry here. I have only burned it in the wood stove in the past. It looks like it may have some nice grain to turn on the lathe. After this cold weather breaks I hope to finish my barn and start collecting some wood from the trees here.


That hackberry is some mean stuff. I tried sawing a small log in our miniature sawmill. Log had sat a month or so since cutting. Made two passes and that was enough. Harder than ironwood or as hard.

slip knot

Back in 98 we sold a piece of property for a water plant. The civil contractor was told to grind everything and scatter the grindings on part of the site. He was burning up grinders faster than Vermeer could deliver them. He finally asked us what was up with those old black fencepost.:bonk:

I told him we would take all those posts if he would deliver them to our shop. Free firewood. We had a big pipe stove nd would use a jackstand to hold up the free end while we burned the other end. 2 post lasted all day and they brought 100s of post. we were set for years.:D

I've still got a few of those old posts, you hit them with a hammer and they still ring solid.
I have a few hackberry logs to try cutting, don't intend to make a practice of it, just a couple boards to see what it looks like.
My uncle one time, told me that the big mauls used by the carnivals were made from hackberry.---I think they turned the head then shrunk the steel band on to keep from splitting . It is very dense, making it heavy and long lasting.---It don't split real easy, so should dry down fairly stable, I would think! thanks; sonny


We have a lot of hedge trees here. They were, and still are, the preferred fence post because they just don't rot. I burn hedge for heat. I think if you try to make furniture with it you will find it will split badly within just a few years. When it is dry it is hard as iron.

If you cut a hedge tree down in the fall milk will literally run out of the cuts. After it dries good it splits very easily.