Sunday, April 06, 2008

Panga panga!

We have been planning for some time to add a half-step between our kitchen and our laundry room; the existing step is a bit steep for some of us and adding a half-step in between would make it much less jarring, especially for those of us with back trouble. Our basic plan has been to build it out of wood, because that's what we build most everything out of around here. We have a good supply of cedar 2x4s and 4x4s, which will be fine for the base, but we need something harder for the tread as cedar does not wear all that well. Separately, we also have in mind to replace our "patio" (currently a 13 foot circle of outdoor carpet over dirt) with some sort of irregular stone.

So, our plan for yesterday was to go out to Schaumburg (yes, that's "foamy city", not "foamy mountain", which would be Schaumberg) for the FCC amateur radio licensing exams, then stop by Schwake Stone in Des Plaines to price stone for the patio. We decided to add to this a stop at "any place along the way that sells hardwood". That meant Rockler, which is conveniently located in Schaumburg off Golf Road. However, Rockler didn't really have anything we wanted, and what they did have was more expensive than we wanted to pay. After going by Schwake and getting pricing information for the patio (it'll cost about $1000, which is a lot but not really a lot) we realized that our favorite hardwood lumberyard, Owl Lumber in Des Plaines, was directly on the way home. So we ran over there on the way home, planning to buy some white oak to use as the tread.

When we got there they had a cart full of a hard, dark wood resembling wenge called "panga panga", priced at about $3.50 a boardfoot. This made it quite a bit cheaper than white oak, and we loved how it looked, so we bought enough for this project and some extra for whatever came to mind. The wood is quite hard, with lots of resin pockets and giant bucketloads of splinters. (This stuff is not to be handled without gloves.) Upon getting home and doing a bit of reading on the Internet, we realized that this was the ideal wood for the computer desk that we're planning, so we went bought and bought a bunch more of it. All in all we got $1000 worth of really nice panga panga for about $300. I can't wait to see how this stuff turns.

The only downside to all this is that I have a bazillion panga panga splinters in my fingers from handling the wood without gloves.

Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia has no article about panga panga. There's probably an article about the tree from which panga panga comes from, but I don't know what tree that it is, and neither does (apparently) Wikipedia. But Wikipedia's coverage of woodworking topics is weak at best.