Wood Getting, Splitting, Sawing And Curing.
To be able to use wood in your local is convenient and economical, it can give you control of your wood supply, and is easier than you think. A piece of bass wood destined for your fireplace or stove can be glue blocks, liners, an end block or the white wood in your rosette. That piece of maple next to the basswood could be a three-piece guitar back, a bridge, fingerboard, pegs etc. Stain or dye to change color, or does the maple show curly grain and would make a violin neck, back, sides, bridge and pegs use your imagination and you will be in control. You will also free yourself of the worry of ruining a piece of wood you spent next months money for. If a disaster occurs grab another piece of wood and go forward. Those living in the cities where wood is scarce can resort to old furniture, building demolition sites, lumberyards etc. If you can get wood in the log, cut it in two foot lengths for guitar backs and thirty four inches for sides. Spit it in half and then in quarters which you then level with ax and plane. Then take it to a cabinet shop, school or friend to saw about three sixteenths inch thick for back and sides, as the wood is green, paint the ends with melted paraffin---CAUTION melt in a pan of water no fires please--- paint about one half inch up. Stack the wood in a dry place with strips of wood in between to allow air circulation no direct sunlight. If in a hurry, hang over a stove or radiator to cure faster. As you saw from the quarter mark the pieces that lay next to each other it will make it easier to match grain and color. The old rule of thumb to dry one year one inch and another year in a control room at about 45% humidity and to assemble at 45%. When bending sides they are soaked but they dry in the heat of the bending iron. Favorite North American Woods- Number one is black cherry (Prunus Serotona) used for furniture and firewood it is beautiful and works well. It grows to be a large tree, on the quarter it makes stable neck wood, backs, sides, bridges, fingerboards, and pegs. Takes stain well. Use Analine stains, as oil stains will muddy the wood. A mixture of Lye and water will go light to chocolate depending on solution strength and time. Please practice on a scrap piece of wood before using it on an instrument. Maple-black Maple is very hard and occasionally has curl and birds eye. Holds up well for necks if cut on the corner, but is heavy. Good for back side's etc. Walnut is a good guitar wood, but has an open grain and requires filling. White Oak cut on the quarter is attractive for backs and sides. Do not use for necks it is a free bending wood. White Oak can be fumed with ammonia; shades from golden to brown can be achieved. Do fuming outdoors in a cardboard box. Put ammonia in a saucer, close the box- DO NOT BREATHE FUMES- Peek in to check color-practice on scrap. Cherry called, Cerezo in Spanish, and is widely used in Central and South America for guitarrones, guitars, quartros, tiples, charangas, violins, harps etc. Cuban Cedar (Cedro de Cuba) a light strong aromatic wood easily carved is the traditional neck wood of Spanish luthiers and is my favorite neck wood.
Top woods are softwoods-Spruce, Pine, Fir, Larch, Red Cedar. Cedar had become very popular. These woods in North America are to be found in lumberyards, building demolition sites, width and quarter grain must be looked for. Most lumberyard personnel do not know what quarter grain is. Eastern Red Spruce is great wood. Occasionally European woods can be found here. Norway Spruce (Picea Abies) was planted very early in the U.S. and is a good top wood. The Guild of American Luthiers publication has numerous advertisements for wood---Mail them at 8222 South Park Ave., Tacoma, Wa. 984081.