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Where To Find Bookmatched Tops

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Yeah, sometimes that stuff comes in waves. Are you set on a thickness yet? I know they will run much more if you are looking for thick carveable tops, but sometimes you can find the thinner stuff for a good price. If you haven't checked local supplies yet, it would be worth a look. 2 of the 3 places around me have some decent figured maple, nothing like you see in the 5A stuff, but certain pieces are plenty good enough for me. I have seen some insane flamed Koa that I would love to buy, but I don't have that kinda money,lol. I always like it when other members sell stuff also, I do that when I can, but its not always possible. Keep trying, I'll check some of my old bookmarked ebay stores and see if I can find anything to link. Good luck.

Yeah, I looked at some old bookmarks and stores and only found one that had any nice stuff out of the ones I used to look at. Problem is none of these will be bookmatched, so you would have to get it cut and I believe most is just curl no quilt. Anyhow you can look, most of it looks decent. Curly maple link. Just find a wider piece like 7"+ of 4/4, 5/4 and find someone that will resaw for you. I haven't looked in a while, so I'm sure there are better places, but I always think this stores pieces look nice, strictly curl usually though. Its probably not what you are looking for, but it never hurts to look, you also might be able to find a single piece top on that site occasionally, which might look kinda cool. Anyhow, sorry and good luck. Good luck.

Edited by jmrentis
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Yeah those second two have some tops. I don't think I have ever checked international sites, some nice pieces. I got vedder in my list, bell forest products and antlersexpress, which randomly have cool pieces of different woods including maple. I have local source now, so I don't check the sites I like I used to. If you ever want to buy some pup rings guilford guitar works make some nice ones with many different woods, worth a look if you don't want to make them. Those are also ebay stores. Thanks for those link WezV. J

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Grading has really become fuzzy on electrics. A bit of color, a bit of hit and miss figure, grain orientaion that is less than optimal for a given figure really are not a big deal if it looks great to you. Prices for high figure Maple have not dropped, but you can certainly get a much better price buying "good looking" over "technically high grade".

If you look at 3D Hardwoods you will see high grading standards, proper grain orientaion, and the bits that have color or flaws tend to get sold off on Ebay for "bargain prices"(not really bargain, but appropriate for the grade). Chuck's pricing is very good on his high grade stock(and his grading is ROCK SOLID on the high grade stock). You wind up paying for expert cutting, stocking, drying, but will recieve consistently amazing product.

Ebay is chock full of hit and miss dealers that may or may not know how to grade for instruments(standards vary with lack of knowledge), which can lead to great deals or sub grade(flawed, green, warped, figure over estimated). If the dealer is knowledgable they will charge accordingly, and if the dealers pricing scale is good for the grades you will do well buying from them all the time. If you buy from a dealer that is knowledgable in other areas(such as turning, carving, furnature, cabnets, trinkets or boxes) you will recieve pricing based on and graded by that area of wood working and you will recieve wood dried and cared for accordingly. Resawing your own sets saves you money because you are using your time and equipment instead of theirs(which involves a element of risk in terms of loss). To me it makes good sense to re-saw for myself(I process to my spec). If you hand select "lumber" you can also find the rare jems that are going to make high grade sets, but you spend your time finding them(which is again just a different way of paying, personally I think a fun thing to do).

When you are buying any wood. Keep these things in mind. Always calculate the board footage, and figure out how much you are paying per. bd. ft. If the wood is processed evaluate the value of the service(cut sets is worth something, surfacing has a value, level of drying has a value). When evaluating the price per. board foot. Look at how well dried the wood is. Drying is expensive when you want fully stabalized wood, and "green" wood should be discounted heavily. Figured wood grading is a difficult thing to grade, and can increase the cost radically depending on grade. Generally we use nothing less than 3A(based on a 5A scale with the addition of Master grade). 3A should have hit and miss figure on one side. 4A should have good full figure on one side. 5A should have good figure across the board and throughout the full thickness(this is an awsome rare grade). Master Grade is the exceptionally rare FULL(100%), exceptionally even and strong figure throughout the full thickness of the board. On Maples color is a significant grading factor. Even color is what we grade on. In the 3A you can have some strong variation and staining, in the 4A you should expect a little variation, in the 5A you should have very very minor variation, and in the master grade it should be absolutely even coloration. Common lumber pricing for figured Maple(flamed or curly, add 15-20% for quilted) in the 3A to 4A mixed lot lumber is around $7 bd. ft. (select* which is all 4A would rune between $10-$12 bd. ft.). 5A is generally sold at a premium(per. board basis), and will be marked up 2 to 3 times standard 4A pricing($20-36 bd. ft). Master Grade is a rare exception and pricing can range upwards of twice 5A levels. Note that for higher grades curly or flamed should be closer to quarter sawn vertical grain, and Quilted should be well flat sawn. This should make it pretty clear that over grading is something a seller may be very tempted to do, but a knowledgable reputable dealer will grade to err to the lower grade to preserve their reputation.

So what does that mean as far as pricing for a 1/4" flamed Maple drop top. It requires about 1.2 bd. ft for a large set. Resawing the set is worth about $5, and surface sanding about $5. Assuming this set is well dried(if not, cut the valuation by 30-50% and surfacing is not recommended till it is stable). Assuming the set has 4A figure(fine for a surface drop top, as you are less likely to sand through the figure) and we value it at $10 bd. ft. The wood is worth $10, if cut is worth $15, if cut and surfaced is worth $20. If this is a 5A set it is worth(cut and sanded)$40-$60. If it is the rare "master" grade, it could Range upwards of $80-$120. Always evaluate this way, don't get caught by dealers that "wing" a number at a set.

If you get into the carved top sets. Remember, you should never by less than 5A if you want reliable figure after you have carved the set. A similar example for a carved top set. 3/4"-1" thick will require 2.5 bd ft. of lumber. The cut and sand are the same. Thicker material may hold a 10% upchage on the lumber(just as a note). So we value our machining at $10, and our lumber at $55-$100(5A with 10% added for thickness). So we should expect to pay $65 to $110 for this set(note you MUST be able to view back and front of these sets to confirm 5A grade). Same set in a master grade $130-$220.

You can take any of those examples and adjust grading due to color. Carved tops with color that you find acceptable, yet bring a full figured board down to a 4A grade can be real bargains. Same applies with drop tops if the color appeals to you. Evaluate your dealers based on this and look at there board foot pricing. It will tell you how good the price they charge is. Also use this to evaluate how consistent their grading is(beware of dealers that appear to grade 4A and 5A as the same or especially if they lean high with grading).

When dealing with 1/8" or thin sets. Remember the machining may be as much or more than the wood. It can be a good way to get into higher grade thin tops, but is less of a bargain on lower grade sets.

Don't confuse spalted coloring and staining(one hurts value one adds a bit).

Peace, and good luck hunting!,Rich

P.S. it is a good idea to try to evaluate shipping when you are pricing. Dealers will not drop their price generally because of shipping costs, or because they are dealing online. Adding $10 to a 4A drop top for shipping will be pretty expensive(shipping costs as much as the wood itself is worth).

Edited by fryovanni
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