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Homemade Lumber


Masina
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Has anyone had experience making their own lumber (out of logs) for tonewood. I just thought that for guitar building, only relatively small pieces are needed, therefore the size of the logs might be managable.

I've heard about making a jig for a chainsaw. Has anyone done anything like this?

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Has anyone had experience making their own lumber (out of logs) for tonewood. I just thought that for guitar building, only relatively small pieces are needed, therefore the size of the logs might be managable.

I've heard about making a jig for a chainsaw. Has anyone done anything like this?

Yes, and No. I am not running a mill and processing logs, but yes I have processed a fair bit of raw wood. We have a couple members that do have small mills though, and hopefully they will add some feedback for you. As far as guitar building requiring relatively small logs. Many parts may be small, but the desirable log size is actually quite large because of what we look for in the wood. As an example, the smallest diameter tree you would want to attempt to make soundboards out of would be at least 28". The larger the diameter the easier it ill be to meet the min. size requirements and maintain a grain orientation that we look for. You can buy chainsaw jigs for milling wood(give it a look up on the web, you will find them). Chainsaws waste a LOT of material though. You also have to consider drying, storage, equipment to take ruff milled wood to dimensioned lumber after drying, and so forth. Anywhoo.. I will stop and let the guys with mills add to this.

Peace,Rich

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I don't think that's a really good idea. Considering the fact that wood has to dry for a while before it's stable and usable for guitar making. Humidity level in logs is high, even if it has been logged a while ago. You can build yourself a kiln dryer or something similar, but again, you'll have to wait. Unless you plan to make a hell lot of instruments, or maybe sell wood, I don't think it's beneficial.

At first, I was buying ready to use wood from a lumber yard. It was planed on all sides, dried to a good humidity level. Problem is that you pay the big price for a 'ready' board.

So I bought a 12" planer, a hand planer and a table saw. I can now buy dried rough boards, which are very cheap, and do whatever I want with it. I usually pay 5$ for 8/4 12"X12" African Mahogany. Maple is in the same price range.

To get good quartersawn, or sap wood, you will need some big logs, which are hard to work because of the size. And don't forget you will loose lots of wood. Also, how can you know the lumber is not rotten inside, or bad quality? You never know 'til you cut it. You better go in a good lumber yard, and pick a good looking rough piece. Lumber yards don't care about bad logs, because they have tons and tons of them.

Edited by MescaBug
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Quite. We want quartered wood, preferably wide quartered wood, so we need the huge trees, pretty much.

If you're asking 'can you make a jig for a chainsaw', and have no experience handling/milling with a big, long chainsaw, this is a surefire way to get yourself maimed. If you're looking to save money, think again. You'll want at least a chainsaw, probably a protable mill of some sort (for said chainsaw, possibly), a wide planer, lots of space to store cuts of wood, a fairly large bandsaw, thickness sander (probably), and lots of patience. And that's if you've got the right contacts for getting at the wood, are prepared for a lot of waste, etc. Even milling from kiln-dried boards can be a crap shoot in terms of getting the right material.

I mean, sounds fun and all, but if you're interested in getting big boards on the cheap with a little risk, go contact local tree processing guys or local sawmills, and get the wood from them. It'll be green, but cheaper than getting it from a hardwood lumber place. Thing is, buy a large enough amount from a lumber place (kilnd dried stuff), and they'll usually cut you a pretty good deal; last time I bought white Limba and African Mahogany, I ended up paying the equivalent of about 20-30 bucks (in Europe, with 20% sales tax and all that) for dead-on quartered (for 2-piece bodies, flatsawn for the 1-piece bodies), dry, ready to mill and use rough 8/4 stock, enough for both body and neck on any type of electric (set neck, neck through or bolt-on), with a lot of 'scrap' that will keep me in linings and blocks for acoustic guitars for a long, long, long time.

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I am sure you will elaborate on why your are interested in doing this (I am assuming you have logs, or property with trees that you are either falling or have had). A suggestion though, if you are looking for great ways to track down wood to dry and prepair. Look around for local "urban tree reclamation" mills. It is becoming a popular trend, and a great thing to support. These fellas have small mills, and some form of small kiln. They offer locally recovered trees from building sites or trees that had to be removed for one reason or the other. Also look for people with portable mills that take wood in payment for services. They will generally sell this wood at very reasonable prices through local ads and what have you. If you can find out where the small fixed mills in your area are. They will also offer fresh cut or partially dry timber for very reasonable prices. The greener the wood the cheaper it will be, but that is because there are losses and expenses assosciated with drying. Buying this way you can focus your efforts on the "processing" part of turning wood into usable parts for instruments. If you need to tool up for this, look to your local craigs list and such for used tools. A med. large bandsaw (size will dictate your capacity), a 6-12" planer (wider is really handy), a wide sander is a plus for tops, fretboards, and other parts(drum, dual drum, or wide belt- wide belt having the greatest capacity). Keep it in the back of your mind that owning equipment sized large enough will not be cost effective if you are just using it for your own personal parts(way overkill). If you want to sell parts then you can actually make use of the capacity, but don't even think about selling till you learn about how to deal with wood, and what to look for in instrument grade material. I say that because you will either lose your rear end with losses, or you will sell wood that is not actually proper instrument grade wood for more than you should and burn people.

Peace,Rich

P.S. MescaBug- The humidity level is in the air around the wood, moisture content is what is in the wood. Sap wood is the bit on the outside of the tree(generally less stable and somewhat problematic), Heartwood is the inner part that you want well quartered. I understood what you are saying, and it makes good sense to me. Personally 2S2 or ruff is good, you have to be a little careful at times with the ruff as it is a little more difficult to clearly see it (nothing a little pocket plane can't cure though :D ).

Edited by fryovanni
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Thanks for the input guys!

I'm interested in the idea because I do have some small logs lying around, and thought it would be nice to make something right from the start. I've sourced a sawmill near to me that could do the work, so if the wood is suitable, I'll do this.

The logs are roughly 6" diameter - is that too small for fingerboards, for example?

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6" is too small for anything but firewood. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is true. It just isn't old enough to have developed good stable heartwood. What kind of wood are we talking about, here?

I currently mill and dry all the wood myself for all my woodworking projects, but I have been at it for several years now, and am still learning. There's a lot more to it than one might think.

As stated before, even tough the pieces you end up using are small, they need to come from logs big enough to contain enough good, mature wood to get them from. Keep in mind that the middle 4 inches or so of the log is not suitable for instrument use. You really need logs bigger than 12" diameter ( small end ) and 16"+ is preferable. ( this is not figuring for the wide quartered stock mentioned earlier. )

You can buy attachments for a chainsaw to mill lumber, but as stated, if you don't have chainsaw experience, it can be quite dangerous. You also need a big saw to do it. Ripping a log from end to end with a chainsaw takes much more power than crosscutting. A 65cc saw is the smallest you will want to use, and that will be really pushing it's limits. most homeowner types are around 45cc or so. I started out with a jig I built for my Stihl 090, 137cc. It worked but it was loud, slow, and hard work.

And, yes it wastes a good bit of wood- 3/8" kerf, compared to the 1/16" kerf that my Woodmizer bandmill takes out.

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Ah, fair enough. The wood in question was holly, so I doubt that I'd be ably to get anything 12" diameter or more.

I was simply intrigued by what holly would be like as a fingerboard. I figured it would feel a bit like ebony, as it is so hard.

Edited by Masina
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Ya, It's kinda hard to come across holly in any decent size. You might actually get some decent fingerboard stock out of it, though. Do you have a bandsaw and a jointer? If so, you can try cutting a 2 foot section, straight and clear ( no knots ) coat the ends with wax or latex paint, square it up on the jointer, and take a 1" slice off each face on the bandsaw. Stack them on a flat surface with strips of wood between them for airflow, and see what happens. It will probably twist a bit, but so does ebony. When it dries out, you can true it up again and resaw it. It's certainly worth a shot, and would be good experience.

You could also take it to someone with a bandsawmill, but if you do, remember that small, short logs are a pain in the butt to saw on one.

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If your just looking at slicing up a little 6" diameter bit of wood. I wouldn't take that to a mill, your in small bandsaw territory. I run 10-12" thick stock on my bandsaw. Using my tables I can pull a reference edge(trim to get a good reference edge) on a 12-14" diameter log(bucked to about 24-26") and it is back in capacity for regular resawing(although it is a bit weighty). For larger Spruce I want split wood anyway, so you want to buck a log to 26-28" in length and split it to bolts, and again your back in bandsaw range. Now If you want 8-10' lumber take it to a mill, or if you have an 16"+ diameter hardwood log have the mill come to you or haul it to them.

Peace,Rich

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I was simply intrigued by what holly would be like as a fingerboard.

I'll let ya know one day. :D I just made a holly fretboard for a shortscale bass (30") but have decided not to use it for this particular project. I have some purpleheart for that.

New%20guitar.jpg

I was given a 10" dia log, roughly 3 ft. long about 3 yrs ago. I contacted a local guy who owned a "Woodmizer", basically a large portable bandsaw, and he managed to quartersaw it for me into 2" X 4" sizes for making necks. Cost was about 30 bucks but well worth the money to get it done right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think thats called a branch, not lumber LOL. I vote for a nice warn fire.

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