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Need Help Identifying Wood


Rista
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I'm having real problems finding rosewood or ebony for my fingerboards here where I live. So, the other day my friend gave me a 4 meters long piece of some darkish and heavy wood that's supposedly been sitting in his attic (I think that's the word) for years but we don't know what kind of wood is it. I like the looks of it but I'm not sure whether it would make a good fingerboard. Anyway, I've made a few blanks out of it. Here are some pictures:

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008901134523410.JPG

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008911134523532.JPG

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008931134523645.JPG

The wood is very heavy and seems very strong. It's a tiny bit darker and less reddish in person. Perhaps it's just my monitor. Also, that "white stuff" isn't as pronounced. I've tried searching for pictures of exotic woods and couldn't find anything that looks even close. Does anyone by any chance know what wood could this be and would it be a good choice for fingerboards? Thanks.

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I'm having real problems finding rosewood or ebony for my fingerboards here where I live. So, the other day my friend gave me a 4 meters long piece of some darkish and heavy wood that's supposedly been sitting in his attic (I think that's the word) for years but we don't know what kind of wood is it. I like the looks of it but I'm not sure whether it would make a good fingerboard. Anyway, I've made a few blanks out of it. Here are some pictures:

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008901134523410.JPG

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008911134523532.JPG

http://img15.imgspot.com/u/05/346/20/DSC008931134523645.JPG

The wood is very heavy and seems very strong. It's a tiny bit darker and less reddish in person. Perhaps it's just my monitor. Also, that "white stuff" isn't as pronounced. I've tried searching for pictures of exotic woods and couldn't find anything that looks even close. Does anyone by any chance know what wood could this be and would it be a good choice for fingerboards? Thanks.

well, i'm pretty sure that it's not rosewood. could be purple heart but i don't think so. i'll do a little search and see if i can get closer.

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The closest thing that I have worked with that looks close to that is Cocobolo, but it didn't have near that many "channels" in it and it didn't get near that dark until several months after I had milled it. Safe to say it ain't maple but beyond that....

Nate Robinson

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Looks like Kwila to me, possibly known at "merbau" round your way, a local xylophone maker uses it as a substitute for hondurus rosewood. Should work fine as a fretboard, you may want to fill the grain, but I personally wouldn't bother.

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Looks like Kwila to me, possibly known at "merbau" round your way, a local xylophone maker uses it as a substitute for hondurus rosewood. Should work fine as a fretboard, you may want to fill the grain, but I personally wouldn't bother.

I think Alex's guess is pretty good(I 2nd. his vote for Merbau). It is really hard to say with the color being off and the surface is so shiny it's hard to see grain.

Peace,Rich

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It doesnt really look like Merbau to me. I have a bit of Merbau, its a lot more red in color and has small black grain all through out it. Plus it has no where near as many little channels as that. I could be wrong though...haha wouldnt be the first time.

it just looks like some Mahogany to me...I have some really old mahagony that is about that dark in my garage.

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If no one minds, I'll take a stab at it (or not?)

The open and interlocking grain looks a lot like Purpleheart to me. The chattered machine marks that I see in the piece with the reflections shows to me it's pretty hard. Most of the PH I've worked with has been fairly snipey.

But the color… I've seen purpleheart this color, but it had not been exposed to much light at all, and it was somewhat red (like these pieces) rather than purple. The fact that it was in his attic could support that theory, but it would also have to rely on the possibility that it didn't see much light during the time after it was milled to when it was stored away.

I'd have to see a close-up of the end grain and some better pics to be sure. There's lots of other woods it could be. Purpleheart was just the first thing that came to mind. It certainly could be something else. :D There's another wood that I'm thinking of that might be a possibility, but the name eludes me.

Edited by HVX
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If that's isn't kwila or merbau(I believe the 2 are the same species from different places, but are slightly different, due to growing conditions) then its gotta be some kind of hybrid. Keep in mind, kwila can go a from a nice red/brown to a dirty grey colour when exposed to the outside weather, it all depends on how its led its journey from tree to attic. I've got nice bits in my ceiling that look EXACTLY like your pieces, my deck is dirty grey, and my outside table and chairs(which are keep under waterproof proof covers) are a nice rich brown.

Edit: Kwila is from Papua New Guinea, Merbau from malaysia, and Vesi from fiji, they are the same thing, but due to varying conditions in each country will look a little different(as I said above). That piece I'm 99% sure is "Kwila". Anyone that wants to disagree with me, can, infact please do, I like being proved wrong. But if thats not kwila,

there are a lot of idiots out there who on many occasions have sold me something else.

Edited by Mr Alex
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Looks quite a bit like the (aged) merbau I've seen at the lumber yard, which hasn't been terribly dramatic looking. Something in that family, anyway. Looks absolutely nothing like any rosewood I've ever seen.

Rista: EIR fingerboards are dirt cheap, and ebony's not hugely expensive, if you just want the blanks. Particularly ebony you'll want to have sitting on a shelf for as long as possible (takes a long, long time to stabilize/dry properly). If you've got a credit card (although I believe they'll even do bank transfer payments) buy yourself a small bundle from Madinter.com or Maderasbarber.com in Spain. Depending on grade, Ebony runs between 5 and 15 euros, EIR tops out at around 4 euros, and particularly Maderas Barber has a decent selection of other species as well.

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Thanks for all replies. I just searched for pictures of Kwila, Merbau and other woods mentioned, and they do look very similar to this wood although none of them has as many little channels. I don't want to take chances and use some "unknown" wood for my fingerboard so I took mattia's advice and went to order some EIR blanks from madinter.com. I couldn't believe how cheap they were but... the minimum order is 20€ and they ask 60€ for shipping costs. With taxes, it's going to cost me more than 100€ for six fingerboard blanks which is a bit too much for me since I'm on a budget and I don't really need six fingerboards :D

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Thanks for all replies. I just searched for pictures of Kwila, Merbau and other woods mentioned, and they do look very similar to this wood although none of them has as many little channels. I don't want to take chances and use some "unknown" wood for my fingerboard so I took mattia's advice and went to order some EIR blanks from madinter.com. I couldn't believe how cheap they were but... the minimum order is 20€ and they ask 60€ for shipping costs. With taxes, it's going to cost me more than 100€ for six fingerboard blanks which is a bit too much for me since I'm on a budget and I don't really need six fingerboards  :D

Yikes...60 euros? 40 euros shipping paid for a good 20 fingerboards, pair of guitar sides, several fingerboards and a boatload of headplate veneers. Shoot me a PM with your address if you haven't ordered yet, I'll see if I can ship you a fingerboard or two (if you want them). You can pay me with PayPal. Need the address to check shipping costs, like.

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Granted, but he said 'I've just cut some into blanks' so I'd expect them too be a bit more vivid.  Still, the pores look right to me.

True. I've got some stuff that goes dark brownish-red, but is very, very red when freshly cut.

Simple test for padauk: what does it smell like? Padauk is the most cloyingly sweet smelling wood I know. Cotton candy, only sweeter.

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More like limburger, hehe. The smell isn't strong and is pretty much gone now but it isn't really pleasing.

Hehehe...not Padauk. You could describe it as many things, but limburger cheese ain't one of them. Y'know, at least it's not Shedua (or Amazaque, Ovangkol, whatever you want to call it). That stuff smells nasty. Like feet. Or possibly A$$.

oh, and you've got a reply.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just throwing in my 2 cents on this, which may not be helpful in the least.

I've got two or three pieces of what I think is the same kind of wood myself. I salvaged mine from a shipping pallet that was partly made from it.

The pieces I have are very heavy and waxey. The weight seems to be similar to hard maple, rosewood or purpleheart. I have no clue as to what it is. It does seem to be hard enough to use for a fretboard and that's what I'm planning to use it for. I live in east Tennessee and that's where I found the pallet. I don't know how likely it would be to have a shipping pallet made partly from an imported wood. It would seem unlikely to me, but I can't claim to know anything about the pallet making industry. As best I can recall, the remainder of the pallet was of something common, poplar, pine or soft maple. I salvaged the wood something like 3-5 years ago.

Good to know I'm not the only one scratching his head about this stuff.

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I was re-reading the thread and wanted to add this:

I have some small pieces of padauk and purpleheart and the wood isn't like either of those two. In surface appearance, it's similar to walnut, but much heavier than any piece of walnut I've come across. Not that I've seen huge amounts of walnut, but I mention that for what it's worth.

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I think I've found it. I was reading a thread at another site and someone mentioned a wood called meranti. I Googled some images and found this:

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/meranti.htm

If you scroll about a 1/3 of the way down the page, there's some pictures showing the whitish waxey substance that appears on the boards that Rista and I have. The variation is called Dark Red Meranti.

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