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Wood Source

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by GotTheSilver, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver TDPRI Member

    17
    Jan 4, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Hi all,

    I recently completed my first ever guitar build as part of a class where all materials were provided. I will start a separate thread on that guitar soon.

    I am planning my next guitar, which I would like to be a Les Paul Special style guitar. What are some good sources for obtaining wood? I want to get a Honduran Mahogany neck blank and body blank. There seems to be a lot of question around real Honduran mahogany. Do you know of somewhere I can order a neck blank and body blank and be sure it is what I think it is? Also, I really would like a light weight body. Do any sellers provide the weight of the specific piece of wood you are buying?

    Thanks,
    John
     

  2. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    44
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    I have sourced wood from Keim Lumber in Ohio, and have gotten details like weight from the guys before ordering.

    Look up a wood source thread by RogerC. He recently sourced swamp ash from a place, and it seemed like a good source...probably closer to you as well.

    EDIT - Here is the link to the thread by Roger. It is guitarwoodexperts out of Oregon. I think I've also sourced some stuff out of Bell Forest Products out of Ishpeming, MI.

    I am far from being "in-the-know" on anything guitar, though...wait for some experts to weigh in before you run with anything I have mentioned! Or at least wait to hear from someone in your neck of the woods.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017

  3. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    17
    405
    Nov 25, 2016
    Brookfield, WI
    Gilmer Hardwoods has great Honduran Mahogany body blanks :)
     

  4. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    There might be a good hardwood supplier in your area. Maybe check with a cabinet making shop or custom moulding mill. Actually our local lumber yard sells mahogany but not thick enough. On Long Island we're lucky enough to have Roberts Plywood, which is a huge warehouse and candy store for wood junkies. They would call the Honduran mahog "genuine mahogany" and it comes from somewhere in Central or South America, not necessarily Honduras.
    Swietenia macrophylla = "genuine" or Honduran mahogany
     

  5. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    17
    405
    Nov 25, 2016
    Brookfield, WI
    +1 on what Vizcaster said. In fact, before the 1940s, what came to mind when you mentioned the word mahogany, at least to cabinet makers and fine woodworkers, was Cuban Mahogany (Swietenia Mahogani). That species has long since disappeared from the commercial market though, and is still very rare. The two species are so similar that I doubt there is much difference in terms of lumber to begin with anyway.
     

  6. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver TDPRI Member

    17
    Jan 4, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Thanks for the replies! This is very helpful.

    MM73 - Thanks for the link to RogerC's thread. I read through that thread and have taken a quick look at guitarwoodexperts.com. Looks like a great site!

    Another question - Is there anything I need to be mindful of if I go to a local lumber yard? For example, would the wood be dried appropriately for guitar building?
     

  7. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    17
    405
    Nov 25, 2016
    Brookfield, WI
    Is it a lumberyard as in a construction lumber or woodworking lumber. If it is the latter of the two, you should be pretty good, most of the stuff is kiln dried. I haven't heard of kiln dried wood being a problem with solid body electrics but if it were an acoustic instrument of any kind I have heard on multiple occasions that for those, air dried wood is better. When looking for suitable guitar wood, look at the end grain, there is nothing wrong with flatsawn, but in bodies for example, quartersawn is more sought after. As for the neck, if it is a bolt on fender style, quartersawn hard maple can be quite risky, depending on how old the maple tree was and how well it grew, sometimes quartersawn maple can be too stiff for a neck, but hey, who am I to judge, early esquires had no truss rod either :). other than that, just look for straight grained wood with no visible flaws (if a clean look is what your going for, but I have seen some people do some cool stuff with voids and knot holes) and usually you want to avoid knots (though many early pine fenders had knots that were drilled out and plugged with straight pine). I am still working on my first build, which has a deadline, but I would let wood season for a few months before starting. Sorry if I am lecturing on stuff you may already know, but I felt like passing on any info that might be helpful.
     

  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Most any wood that is dry and without defects will yield a decent guitar body. Most of the popular styles today after 50-60 years are steeped in tradition and many people don't want to deviate from unless they want to for many reasons :). Leo Fender used Alder and Swamp Ash primarily. Orville Gibson used Honduran Mahogany and hard maple. You'll find most people building clones of those guitars stay within those boundaries. That leaves plenty of different species to experiment with if you are up for it. You'll want dry wood, whether kiln or really dried air dried, but in the gulf region, you'll find that you want to let the wood acclimate to the conditions before you use it. You will find that flatsawn lumber is more prevalent at most any lumber dealer. I've had good success buying mahogany on ebay in smaller sizes. Tropical American, Traditional, or Genuine mahogany will get you in the ball park as opposed to African, Sapele, or other mahogany substitutes. I've made guitars out of poplar, basswood, maple, walnut, willow, mahogany, and pine, mostly due to their availability around here. You probably will find that alder is more common out west as well as other species. Wood density is a factor to consider. If the body weighs a ton, it may be fatiguing to play. If the body is too light is could be neck heavy. Most tele bodies that people seem to desire are a couple oz less than 4 lb. With light density woods you also will find that you get dents more easily. Expect to pay 50 dollars + for a tropical American body blank. With the difficulty in getting those mahoganies, I think you'll have a harder time finding something light weight unless you want to really pay for it. . Even Gibson has resorted to weigh reduction cavities and they buy a lot of it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017

  9. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    44
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    I'm already tapped out on what I have to offer.

    I think Adirondak is a collector of exotic woods and loiterer at fine lumber shops. Check in with him.
    I know there are others, but he has a running thread on NWD (new wood day)...so his name is fresh in my head.
     

  10. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Holic Ad Free + Supporter

    655
    Jun 17, 2008
    omaha
    You might try precision guitars or warmoth or some other guitar parts company. They would understand what you were talking about when you ask for lightweight wood suitable for a guitar like you want. I'm sure you'd probably pay a premium, but I'm assuming if you want Honduran Mahogany that is lightweight you are prepared for that in any case. I bet most lumberyards/wood suppliers aren't going to weigh their 8/4 slabs for you unless they are already specializing in wood for instruments in which case you'd be paying a premium anyway. Spanish cedar is mahogany like and very light I hear.
     

  11. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

    Mar 9, 2012
    New York
    Now loiterer is a strong word :) :lol:
     

  12. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    44
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    Now I remember...you were with him!!!
     

  13. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    I'm building a Thinline with Honduran mahogany I got from guitarwoodexperts.com mentioned above and it's a beautiful one piece blank. They are a great company to deal with. I can't get it anymore from them because of cross border shipping and CITES. Sure wish I could get more because my next one will be an LP Special DC. Hard to get a one piece blank like that here in Canada.
     

  14. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire Ad Free + Supporter

    Oct 24, 2009
    Long Island NY
    I'll admit it . Mark is correct , I do loiter at fine wood shops , or any wood shop within a 100 mile radius .:D
    I have found that you are much better off money wise if you can at least get your body and neck blanks from a local source if possible rather than pay for shipping. Shipping is getting to be crazy money nowadays . Wood dealers don't advertise much , you may be surprise what you find once you start searching for them that is within driving distance . If you have to order and get shipped a few sources mentioned in this thread are good ones , Keim Lumber particularly , I bought some blanks from them a few years back and they were prime .

    Well , there was a lot of slow wandering around last time I was at Condon's . :eek::D


    Hmmm , partners in crime :D:lol:
     
    Barncaster likes this.

  15. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

    Mar 9, 2012
    New York
    YES :) it involved:
    - analyzing the local market place
    - exchange of expert opinion (nerding)
    - engaging in advanced customer relationship management (they, the friendly lumber yard sales support team, even took a group selfie of us since neither of us had a long enoung selfie stick)
    - jump started the local economy (we both bought some pieces of wood)

    That aint no loitering, is it??? :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  16. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    The woodworker I bought my bandsaw from told me about this place, http://armstrongmillworks.com/woodtypes.aspx and I keep intending to make a trip up there to check it out but using reclaimed and local woods so far (having a while ago convinced myself that wood only changes the appearance not tone of a guitar and I have to get better at the finishing skills before I get into fancy looking lumber). I watch the local Home Depot and Lowes for flamed maple mixed in the lot, but they only get maple shipments in the fall.

    OP: check out the Ruokangas video build series, I linked one of the last ones that compares the playing but go all the way back to the first one, I'd also recommend the Crimson Guitar 24hour build series, and search out the one where a guy does a full walnut or chestnut guitar in a shed in the North Carolina hills with a router box and simple tools.

    Ruokangas used Spanish Cedar (different than American Cedar) but compares to an actual 59 LP which is where you are headed if seeking specialty woods. Rockler retail stores carry some specialty lumber if you have a store nearby (or order online). Don't forget that the style of truss rod you use will change the weight, tuner types, pickups, and if you use a wrap bridge or stop bar tail piece too. You can find images of LP chambering patterns online if the blank weight doesn't fit your target density. If spending on the wood in the search for tone don't be afraid of buying a bag of pots and caps and measuring their actual values as they have a wide range of normal variation, pickups have wide variation too but never described in technical specs only measurements, and putting them in the finished guitar.

    Something I learned from PRS guitars factory tours ... When making the big cuts on the neck, especially carving out the section for the neck carve area where you leave the headstock and tail blocks, let the plank sit for a few days before doing the next big cut and you'll keep better accuracy of the finished neck plus it will be less likely to warp on you later. Same thing after gluing and subsequent cuts.

     

  17. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    44
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    I've been to Armstrong Millworks a number of times. They are a short drive north of me. I used to source them for poplar trim for home projects - huge selection of trim profiles.
    Anyway, the guys at Armstrong are great to work with. Despite all the contractors coming in with big orders, they spent a lot of time with me when I was digging deeper into woodwork. I try to get as much as I can from them, but its been limited to maple neck blanks and walnut cutoffs. I'm not setup to joint or plane yet, so the added setup costs keep the internet a lower cost option...even with shipping. I tried to get swamp ash and ebony from them, but had to source through the 'net. I think they may carry some exotics like ebony to sell on consignment from time to time. They only carried white ash.
     

  18. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Local lumber yards might have something appropriate for a cerpenter who needs to patch some woodwork, but they seldom have what woodworkers need.

    If you find a hardwood supplier, you should expect to buy rough-sawn lumber that is not yet dimensioned. 4/4 (four-quarter) stock is still just about 1' thick, and by the time you joint, rip, and plane it yourself you'll wind up with something 0.75" thick or so. Which means you pretty much need a jointer, planer, and table saw to get the stock into useable shape. And the time investment, and someplace to put all the shavings and sawdust.

    On the other hand if you buy something meant to be used as a guitar body blank it will only need a little bit of truing up that you can probably do with a hand plane before you feed it to the bandsaw.
     

  19. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver TDPRI Member

    17
    Jan 4, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Thanks, all! There is a lot of really helpful information in this thread. Based on the feedback, I think I will stick with buying a prepared body blank from one of the websites provided, and hold off on trying to source wood locally until I know more about it. Plus, I don't have a planer, jointer or table saw yet, so that will make things much easier.

    I also did not realize that I needed to allow the wood time to acclimate before I start cutting into it. Thanks for this tip! It probably saved me a lot of heartache!

    Marn99 - I am new to this and buying wood for the first time. No worries about lecturing me on things I already know, as all of this is new to me!

    Jvin248 - thanks for the heads up on the videos. I will be watching those!

    Oh, and I look forward to loitering at lumber yards some day! :cool:
     
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  20. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    The idea behind letting wood acclimate won't make a difference with a thick wide body blank. The idea with long, thin boards like neck blanks is that the internal tension in them will cause some warping as you make your first cuts (one side wants to pull one way, one side wants to pull another way, if you rip them down the middle they'll warp in their own directions because they're no longer held together). So you make a rough cut and let it sit to see what happens, then refine the shape. It has more to do with releasing the internal tension than it does with drying out.
     

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