The Banksia Nut
The banksia nut is a strange looking nut with a number of holes which makes for very interesting projects. Some people just slice them up to use for drinks mat coasters. When turning the banksia nut try to find a large nut with small holes as the needles fall out. Be aware that the small red hairs can cause respirotory problems so wear your breathing gear as the dust is also toxic. I would recomment increasing the speed of the lathe to around 2500 rpm, take light cuts and make sure you are using sharp tools.
Before turning a banksia nut I would always give it a quick brush off with a soft wire brush, this removes any of the loose material without damaging the nuts surface. To sumarise Banksia nuts are hard and solid and are easy to turn, but they do create a large amount of dust and flying seeds. They can vary in their size from 4 inches long up to to about 10 inches long in length, and they be between 3 and 6 inches in diameter.
Where would you find a Banksia Nut
The Banksia is native to South West Western Australia and can sometimes be known as Banksia Grandis, Bull Banksia, Giant Banksia or Mangite. The banksia grows in woody shrubs and tree forms with the tree generally growing to a height of between 5 and 10 metres, however some trees have been known to grow as tall as 30 metres. Named after Joseph Banks a member of Captain Cooks crew and taking part in Captain Cooks first great voyage. Banks has approximately 80 species of plants bearing his name. The banksia are easily recognised by their characteristic flower spikes and fruiting "cones" and heads.The flowers are heavy producers of nectar. Each shrub or tree produces plenty of flowers, few turning into fruit which develops into the pods. The large "cones" or seed pods of Banksia grandis are the only part of the tree to interest the woodturner as the wood of the Banksia family warps badly on drying. Affectionally refered to as a Banksia Nut or Banksia Cone.