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I'm Off To Stock Up On Lumber At The Sawmill!

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Primarily, I want to stock up on the usual purpleheart, mahogany, maple, ash, alder, ebony, etc. plus some interesting random veneers for pinstriping. Additionally, the sawmill stocks the following woods (I've removed a few "non-guitar woods" although some may remain) which I'm wanting to bolster my main stock with:


ASH English /European /American / Figured /Olive


BOX Castelo/European

CEDAR Lebanon

CHERRY American /English /European


CHESTNUT Horse (Burry)











MAHOGANY Swietenia Macrophylla from Central America (certified sustainable)

MAPLE Canadian hard /Birdseye

OAK American White / English / European /Brown /Bog /Burry /Quarter sawn/ Rippled /Beams

OSAGE Orange


PEAR Steamed/unsteamed



PLANE Plain/Lacewood



ROBINIA (False Acacia)

ROSEWOOD Indian /Mexican /Papua New Guinea /Sonokeling




TULIP North American /English

WALNUT American black /English /French /Squares


...now, which other listed woods would work well being incorporated into bass neck, bodies or conversely which ones wouldn't? I primarily want to aim towards making more solidbody basses with neck laminations for overall stability, but I'd like to work with more natural woods as I'm oiling rather than spray finishing. One wood I'd be interested in incorporating is hornbeam for example, given that it is said to have a nice bright hard rock maple sound with huge stiffness. Comparisons between certain woods in certain applications (laminations, fingerboards, bodies etc) would be cool. Lignum Vitae sounds like it would work nicely as a fingerboard wood, being "self-oiling" - any thoughts? I've highlighted the woods I'm really interested in and would love to hear more ideas, feedback and experience regarding their usage. Most of the instruments I'm working on use purpleheart or ebony as neck laminations, although walnut is on the cards for future projects. Any practical differences between English and US walnut in this application?

I'm off this Saturday and I'm planning on making a bit of a stockpile :-D

I hope this can turn into a good discussion thread on the lesser used woods!

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You plan to stockpile all those woods? Does your saw mill stock all of these, and are these woods stabalized or is this an actual mill? I ask because some of these woods are very expensive and are not easy to stabalize (Snakewood, Pink Ivory, African Blackwood, Thuya Burl....). I would also focus on good cuts. I will buy good cuts when I find them, but it takes time to run across those pieces at a reasonable price. If you buy wood that is not stabalized be sure the price is adjusted acordingly(you will have losses).

You can integrate most any of those woods into Bass necks and bodies in one fasion or another(accent/asthetic some structural). You would do well to read up on the structural properties, gluing charictoristics, drying properties, finishing properties of these woods before spending too much money. As an example; You mention Lignum Vitae because it is a very oily wood ("self oiling"). That is a difficult wood to glue because it is very oily. Very oily woods tend to dampen vibration(which is a good thing if you want it to). Most Rosewoods tend to be a bit oily and thus dampen some, they also tend to be very dense and have a high stiffness(which improves transfer of vibration). Straighter grained woods tend to transmit vibration very well(but tend to not look very interesting). Burls do not transmit vibration well because of the grain or lack there of (but look very cool). Some woods are better suited for different tasks you just need to look at the properties and use acordingly.


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To a degree Rich - I'm planning on keeping the "standard" woods into two stages. Some in bulk, stabilising for a few months which has been stored outside air drying in rough edge, then tidied and stored indoors. This will form "future stock" of body blanks etc. Just ash, mahogany, alder etc. I'll also buy some well dried gear for almost immediate use (after moisture testing, acclimitising).

The exotics such as purpleheart, ebony etc. are all stabilised and pretty much ready to use although I'll hang fire to make sure, rather than regret it later :-D The mill takes wood from rough through to four-side planed so most of the work and time has been spent and done.

I would like to try some lignum vitae and I'm aware of glueing issues but a good extraction clean with acetone and roughing against the grain should make this easier I guess. I was thinking of a fretless board despite it being stupendously heavy (Matt will probably make a nine-string neck out of it now...heh!) because it's very tough. In light of that, it may well make for some good neck laminations if you can get the rest of the neck to stay stuck to it :-D

Things like pink ebony would just make my wife sick as pink isn't allowed in this house. As far as exotics go, I'd rather get a fair amount of nice stuff to make fingerboards (cocobolo deathwood, rosewood, ebony and whatever else takes my fancy) plus some burl for decoratives. These are all kept in a nice dry environment and are good to go.

Really, I'm more interested in what "other" woods would be good to add into the stockpile for constructional use. If nothing takes my fancy, I'll just return home with a metric shedload of simple body woods.

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What on earth is deathwood?
I googled it and didn't get anything. All the pictures I found were pictures of trees with angry faces on them

I think you'll find he's referring to cocobolo as deathwood - it's the wood that most people have allergic reactions to, some people who use it for a while get so sensitised to it that they can't use it any more, as it is just that nasty to work with
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Exactamundo! I love the look, but I don't think I'm experienced enough at this stage to work it in full confidence I'm not causing myself harm.

Thanks for the list Digi! I'll be sure to make a shortlist of what I'm considering and post it for final thoughts before Saturday.

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Leadwood is also known as Black Ironwood, and is the heaviest wood native to the Americas. Whether it's workable or not remains to be seen. I'll be picking up some black walnut and hornbeam for neck laminates for sure. I think I'll stick to "standard" woods for the majority, pick up some nicer small pieces for fingerboards/laminates and consider some of the more exotic veneers for other work. Some burl would be interesting if there's any good stuff in stock.

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Take a look at this link.Click

You will find several PDF's one per. chapter of a great handbook for reference. It covers just about every topic you could think of (mechanical properties, fastening, finishing, transmition of energy, and on and on.). It is a great resourse and I highly recommend saving a copy. The US forrestry service also has a web site and data bases of test results, Identification database and so forth that is very extensive.


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Thanks Rich - that's definitely a tome and a half. Something I found in there which may be very relevant to us guitar builders is this passage on adhesives. It would be well worth experimenting on oily wood such as Lignum Vitae to see whether it is indeed a very difficult wood to glue.


A simple water test can reveal much about the state of inactivation of a wood surface and how difficult it may be to wet and bond with adhesive. As a first test, place a small drop of water on the surface and observe how it spreads and absorbs. If the drop remains a bead and does not begin to spread within 30 s, the surface is resistant to adhesive wetting

(Fig. 9–1). Another water drop test can be used to estimate the degree of surface inactivation of veneer. Place a drop of water in an area on the earlywood of a flat-grain surface that does not have checks or splits in the area of the drop. Good wettability is indicated if the drop is absorbed within 20 min. If the drop has spread out but some water still remains on the surface after 40 min, then bonding problems are

likely to occur. If after 40 min the water drop still retains much of its original shape with little spreading, then bonding problems from surface inactivation is a certainty.

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