Apiary Studio
Posted on January 3, 2017 by Hans on Craft & Construction, Experimentation, Gardening

Black Locust

We finally had an opportunity to specify and utilize black locust on one of our projects. We’ve been itching to use this sustainable and locally-sourced material for many years. Black Locust is a native North American tree that grows like a weed, colonizing disturbed site with abandon. A common tree along agricultural wind breaks, successional forest edges and urban areas, black locust is a fast-growing tree in the legume family that fixes nitrogen, repairing depleted and unhealthy soils. It produces large, purple flower panicles in the late Spring, which bees love and provide a great source of honey during that time of year. Additionally, Black Locust is one of our hardest, densest and heaviest woods that is incredibly rot-resistant. Able to withstand decomposition even when Placed in the soil as a fence post, it will stand for decades. When freshly milled, Black Locust has a bright yellow color, which fades to a silver/gray when exposed to UV rays over time. The wood does not require any treatment to withstand rotting, but it is recommended to apply a wax-sealer to the exposed ends of the wood in order to prevent further water-absorption, desiccation, twisting and checking. Although the wood is fairly stable, it is brittle and will warp slightly in some instances, making it best-suited for rougher and more rustic carpentry applications. The density of the wood requires that all screws be pre-drilled, adding a fair amount of labor to the installation process. However, once the Locust structure has been erected, it will remain standing for decades.

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We specified this material to be used in several carpentry applications on our Carroll Gardens project, including for the back yard perimeter fence, a wooden deck, vine-trellis and waste-storage bin. Check out some of the construction progress images on the project.

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