Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

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Luehdorf
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Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Luehdorf »

I have recently moved to Panama, and I am building my collection here again. A few weeks ago I wanted to order my favourite museum grade boxes from Germany, from Entomologie Meier, just to find out that they closed their business. But I do have some good carpenters here in Panama, and I will just have them re-build new boxes according to the German example. Now my questions is, out of the many choices of wood here in the tropics which one is best to use? Would teak or a sort of mahogany work? What is better and what is best? Any experience so far?
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Chuck »

Whichever you pick, if you plan to go back to Germany (or elsewhere) with those boxes, make sure they're a common wood, not prohibited from export or international trade.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by nomihoudai »

I'm with Chuck on this one.
Lepidoptera distribution maps: lepimap.click
Luehdorf
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Luehdorf »

Thanks guys for that reminder. I was thinking about using probably teak from sustainable plantations, it’s also quite affordable and the other hardwoods are probably too difficult to work with something like Ipe.
Is there any other problems with teak? Oils or something else in the wood that could be detrimental for specimens?
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by adamcotton »

Teak wood must be absolutely dry before making the boxes, otherwise the wood will split. Normally it must be professionally dried, and after that it will be safe to use to store specimens. Note it is very heavy.

I actually think you don't need to use hardwood. I will ask what type of wood those superb Japanese insect boxes are made from, maybe that will be a guide.

Adam.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Chuck »

Teak is also becoming quite rare and expensive in the world market. While not controlled by CITES, it is under the watchful eye of authorities since it's often labeled as coming from a legal source, but is not. I'd avoid Teak for that reason alone; and what Adam said. LOL I saw a gorgeous and expensive teak desk set imported from Philippines; when it dried out it cracked all over.

Soft woods have a lot of controls concerning import, at least into USA and China. I would suspect same into Europe. There's a perception on the part of authorities that soft woods are prone to infestations. All soft woods coming into USA have to be fumigated at the source and inspected on arrival.

So a "harder wood" that's not Teak or Mahogany is probably best.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

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adamcotton wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 8:31 am Teak wood must be absolutely dry before making the boxes, otherwise the wood will split. Normally it must be professionally dried, and after that it will be safe to use to store specimens. Note it is very heavy.

I actually think you don't need to use hardwood. I will ask what type of wood those superb Japanese insect boxes are made from, maybe that will be a guide.

Adam.
That would be great to know for sure! I think my German ones are made from maple wood. And they are amazing.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

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Chuck wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 11:57 am Teak is also becoming quite rare and expensive in the world market. While not controlled by CITES, it is under the watchful eye of authorities since it's often labeled as coming from a legal source, but is not. I'd avoid Teak for that reason alone; and what Adam said. LOL I saw a gorgeous and expensive teak desk set imported from Philippines; when it dried out it cracked all over.

Soft woods have a lot of controls concerning import, at least into USA and China. I would suspect same into Europe. There's a perception on the part of authorities that soft woods are prone to infestations. All soft woods coming into USA have to be fumigated at the source and inspected on arrival.

So a "harder wood" that's not Teak or Mahogany is probably best.
Thanks for the advice, I am pretty sure that the local Panamanian carpenters don’t dry the wood properly. The level of professionalism in general is super low here. So I really want to make sure that my insect boxes will be fine. Perhaps I should import some Canadian maple just to be safe.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Chuck »

Wait until you see the price of maple right now. I’d say do use a local wood, but take your time and investigate the right one.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Luehdorf »

Chuck wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 10:17 am Wait until you see the price of maple right now. I’d say do use a local wood, but take your time and investigate the right one.
Good point, let’s hope in a few months prices for raw materials go down again. I’ll investigate and share my findings here for sure. It’s gonna probably take even more time to get the insect boxes to the perfect German quality that I am used to, if possible at all.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Jshuey »

Luehdorf wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 2:07 am
Thanks for the advice, I am pretty sure that the local Panamanian carpenters don’t dry the wood properly. The level of professionalism in general is super low here. So I really want to make sure that my insect boxes will be fine. Perhaps I should import some Canadian maple just to be safe.
Find a place that makes "nice" things. Like desks, 6-panel doors, dressers and such. They have to dry their wood reasonably well to make such products.


At that point - I'd just look for a nice, straight-grained wood to work with. Lots of eucalyptus is grown in Central America specifically for wood working - and that would be a great wood to use.

John
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benihikage92
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by benihikage92 »

adamcotton wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 8:31 am Teak wood must be absolutely dry before making the boxes, otherwise the wood will split. Normally it must be professionally dried, and after that it will be safe to use to store specimens. Note it is very heavy.

I actually think you don't need to use hardwood. I will ask what type of wood those superb Japanese insect boxes are made from, maybe that will be a guide.

Adam.
The most expensive type of Japanese insect boxes are made from a kind of Magnolia, Japanese Whitebark Magnolia (Magnolia obovata, some people think that Magnolia hypoleuca should be used). Poplar is also used for cheaper boxes.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by adamcotton »

benihikage92,

Thank you, I didn't get an answer about this from my friend yet.

Adam.
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by 58chevy »

I have a few of the Japanese boxes. They are excellent. The seals are airtight, so much so that dermestids & humidity can't get in. They are also very lightweight. I would like to order more of them, but I don't have a resource. Anybody else have one?
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by Kirkwilliams »

Mahogany (Swietenia sp) is incredibly form stable and resistent to pests and easy to work with. I have several solid mahogany British cabinets whose drawers are just as tight as the Meier drawers yet they are 120 years old. I also use Meier ( pity they folded shop)
I would suggest having a look for old mahogany in Panama. This is an eco friendly approach and you get well cured wood. Perhaps even an old solid mahogany bar counter or panelling. Regards
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Re: Which tropical hardwood is best for insect boxes?

Post by adamcotton »

58chevy wrote: Thu Jun 09, 2022 4:52 pm I have a few of the Japanese boxes. They are excellent. The seals are airtight, so much so that dermestids & humidity can't get in. They are also very lightweight. I would like to order more of them, but I don't have a resource. Anybody else have one?
I checked Roppon Ashi and they don't list any of these. Perhaps they are difficult to export due to the glass top.

Also I suspect that our Japanese members may not have appreciated the complex English request for information about a supplier, otherwise they might have replied. On the other hand, it is possible that very few Japanese suppliers want to export these due to high costs.

Adam.
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