Ipe is a hardwood that is dense and very hard, making it highly suited for outdoor decking, flooring, and furniture. Nonetheless, working with Ipe demands some caution and peculiar techniques.
Precautions you should take
When working with Ipe, take the required safety precautions as you would do when handling any other hardwoods. When producing a lot of sawdust, dust particles dispersed by ipe boards can irritate the respiratory system. The wood is highly dense and has the potential to damage tool blades and cutters; therefore, one should protect their tools.
Selection of timber
Inspect visually before you buy or use it to check for defects, cracks, twisting, or warping in boards. Opt for Ipe wood Florida with straight, tight grains. The rich brown color of Ipe will have some natural variation from board to board, which is normal. Decking and flooring sold as Ipe usually come in with a smooth sanded face and grooved edge for quick installation. On the other hand, Furniture or woodworking projects are best accomplished using rough-sawn boards that you plan and mill yourself.
Cutting and machining
Due to its extreme density and hardness, cutting and machining can be difficult when dealing with Ipe. When cross-cutting Ipe lumber on a table or miter saw, use sharp carbide-tipped blades only. To avoid kickback, don’t hurry up pushing material through the cut. The feed rate will be slow. Thicknessing Ipe or jointing on a surface planer or jointer will require minor cuts of equal depth, feeding slowly due to its density. Thus, don’t force the cutter head, leading to surface burn marks or scoring.
Drilling and fastening
Standard twist drill bits bore very slowly into Ipe, and it could be difficult to drill into. Securely clamp boards down and drill slowly with light pressure. Also, countersinking holes for screws calls for specialty carbide-tipped bit use. Stainless steel deck screws are recommended for best corrosion resistance when constructing outdoor projects using Ipe. It is essential to pre-drill pilot holes before inserting screws into the wood so that it does not split along the grain.
Precautions while using outdoors
One of Ipe’s best qualities is that it naturally abhors rot, insect damage, and weather changes. However, broad or rapid moisture level changes can still cause expansion, contraction, warping, or checking, especially on large planks. To mitigate these problems, acclimatize Ipe to local humidity and stabilize its moisture content before installation. Regular use of brightener solution or light sanding rejuvenates color and texture and opens pores that allow too much moisture over time.
Working with durable exotic IPE wood requires more care and adjustment than typical softwoods. But this extra effort would be justified once installed considering its exceptional longevity and resilience, doing beautiful finished projects that could last decades with proper care and maintenance.