December 8, 2021

Carving Petrified Wood

What is petrified wood?

Petrified Wood is a fossil in which the organic remains are replaced by minerals when turning to stone. The process takes time and results in a Quartz Chalcedony mineralization. There are special conditions to be met for the fallen petrified wood to be transformed into petrified wood.

 The fallen trees are buried in a zero oxygen environment known as an anaerobic environment. It preserves the original tree structure and appearance and gives the wood access to mineral-rich water flowing through the wood. 

That is how it replaces the organic tree structure with inorganic stone. The result was petrified wood. The process takes place in less than one thousand years. Exotic minerals allow the rare red and green hues seen in more rare specimens. Some users call the petrified wood a stone. 

Petrified wood is a unique geological formation that revolves around a tree and turns it into stone. It is a stone with a preserved natural wooden texture that does not come with organic wood material such as cellulose and lignin. These are now silica minerals and sometimes by calcite, pyrite, or native copper.

Types of Petrified Wood

Although there is no strict classification of petrified wood,  attempts to classify the wood based on the type of plant. However, not all petrified wood holds the features of the initial plant. Petrified wood separates according to its color and mineral composition.

Types of petrified wood based on color

Quartz 

It is the most available mineral on Earth’s surface composed of  SiO2. 

Chalcedony 

It is a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz. That means it is impossible to observe crystal grains with the naked eye.

Agate 

It is a type of chalcedony, but what separates the two is the layered texture.

Opal

It is a mineraloid. It has the same chemical composition as quartz, but a different crystal structure. Opal displays color flashes inside the stone known as the opalescence effect.

Types of petrified wood based on structure and texture

Homogeneous Type

The homogeneous type is a simple wood type with a uniform ring color. It is light-colored and composed.

Spotted Type

The spotted type is a highly decorative one. This structure is a combination of opal and chalcedony. 

Jet-like petrified wood

This type of petrified wood shows clear lines. Sometimes it forms wavy patterns. 

Concentric Texture

The concentric texture of petrified wood comes with various color layers. The bands are saturated by multiple minerals. That is how it comes in different colors. Opal and chalcedony layers change several times to develop a concentric texture.

Lens-shaped or Peanut Texture

Lens-shaped is a type of petrified wood formed by filling the cavities of wood with other minerals. Cavities are holes bored by actual clams. It results in a black and white pattern of petrified wood development.

Can you carve petrified wood?

Yes, you can carve Petrified Wood, although it is hard to carve. Proper tools like a diamond grinding wheel make the process bearable. You can shape your petrified wood into slabs to make your projects using the original wood structure and its mineral alteration. You may need to obtain a wet saw with a larger blade radius to cut larger pieces of petrified wood.

Can you drill into petrified wood?

Using specialized drills and techniques makes it possible to drill into hard material such as petrified wood. Cool the stone and prevent dust from forming. Drilling petrified wood is hard. Remember to go slow and get the up and down action to run the machine. Do not force the cutting. If you do, the project dulls the bit much quicker

Tools to use

Use a wet saw that accommodates the size and thickness of your petrified wood log. You can also use motorized saws or large-scale rock cutters fitted with diamond blade saws. Position your wet saw to accommodate the heavy load of petrified wood.

Selecting the right piece of wood

The value of petrified wood is by several factors, including size, and natural beauty. Familiarize yourself with these factors before you get one to ensure you choose a valuable piece for beautiful projects.

Size

Consider size before you select a piece of wood. The size determines the price of petrified wood. Small pieces of petrified wood are popular and have been mass-produced and polished without expertise. In contrast, large specimens are rarer and more valuable. 

They are prized by collectors, who use them as wall mounts and tables. You also find them displayed in universities and museums worldwide. Visit a showroom with a wide variety of sizes to choose from. 

Polish

Petrified wood is valued according to how it has been polished. Petrified wood that has been expertly polished is worth more. Some manufacturers do all the cutting and polishing in-house. The stone is sometimes produced in a mirror-like finish.

Color

The color and patterns of petrified wood determine the value of your wood. What makes the color in petrified wood are the minerals it was buried in during the prehistoric age. The more colorful it is, the more it is worth. 

Growth Ring

Wood from Oregon and Washington shows the annual ring structure of the original tree clearly. That is an eye-catching feature that adds warmth and interest to the user. Petrified wood from Arizona is easy to identify. It comes with bright reds, blues, yellows, and pink colors for its own unique and valuable character.

Location

Petrified wood is in many parts of the world.  However, there are parts where beautiful petrified wood comes from. These include Arizona, Washington State, and Oregon. That is also where the specimens used by museums and collectors come from.

Some Basic Rules in Carving

  • When you carve, you sit.
  • Carve away from the body.
  • Keep an arm’s length away. 
  • Use a sharp blade. 
  • Open one tool at a time. 
  • Do not carve a living tree.

Is petrified wood worth something?

The worth of petrified wood is by quality and size. Small samples of low-quality petrified wood may not be worth anything, while a high-quality petrified wood log sells for several dollars. Large items manufactured out of polished petrified wood, such as tabletops, sell for thousands of dollars. 

Is petrified wood easy to break?

Petrified wood is more like a stone. It is not easy to break, but the process can be bearable if you use proper tools and techniques.  

Where to sell petrified wood

You can sell small pieces as a hobby, art shows, and community events, but for larger quantities, you may join a club or organization that deals with petrified wood. Online sales also pay. You sell online either by creating a website or an auction website. Form a specialized internet auction. eBay is also a powerful website. Other items you can make include Carved Wooden Owls.

How to tell how old petrified wood is

Relative Dating

It involves determining the age of the sedimentary rocks in which a fossil is buried. You should have a knowledge of the geology of the area in which the fossils are found, to use this method. 

Biostratigraphy

It dates the age of other known organisms fossilized within the same layer. These known fossils are known as index fossils.

Radiometric Dating

It works by calculating the percentages of radioactive elements.

David D. Hughes
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