Building my first guitar...with third-world (exotic?) lumber!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by CairnsMitre, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. CairnsMitre

    CairnsMitre TDPRI Member

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    SHORT VERSION:
    --------------------
    1) Is it safe to use lumber that's been dried/seasoned for use for furniture?
    [bonus] 2) Is there a comprehensive database/list of Janka hardnesses for lumber that can be found in SE Asia?


    LONG VERSION:

    Hi!

    I am about to purchase lumber for building my first guitar;
    but I live in a country where no-one sells lumber specifically for guitar building - because we don't have a guitar building industry at all (not even one-man custom shops)!

    However, furniture making with solid woods is a huge business here;
    and there's abundant supply of stuff like of rosewood (or atleast its close cousin, sissoo), mango wood, jackfruit wood, ironwood, teak - and a whole host of other lumber that I'm not sure what the English names would be.

    I don't have any means of drying any lumber I obtain myself - so the only way for me to obtain dried lumber is to first pick my slabs at the sawmill, and then ask them to season it for me.
    Problem is: I believe that the only form of seasoning that they may know of is for furniture making purposes only.

    So my question is: would lumber that is dried this way be usable for guitar building?
     
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  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You want wood that is dry. The rule of thumb is to let it dry for a year for each 1" of thickness. Around here, Hardwoods are sold by lumber yards or stores. You can use the wood for whatever you like. The boards are sometimes surfaced or not. You can turn them into furniture or guitars. The end product is up to you.

    Our wood is dried to a moisture content a bit lower than air drying, depending on locale. What you need to consider is the weight of the end product. Being in a humid area is another concern. I would consult a furniture maker for some advise and see if they could sell you some that is already dry.


    Oily woods may need to be wiped with Acetone to remove some of the oil before you glue them together too.


    https://www.bellforestproducts.com/info/janka-hardness/

    This list is by the latin name:

    https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fpl_rp643.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  3. Jmwright777

    Jmwright777 TDPRI Member

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    Drying wood is drying wood. The concepts of furniture makings is very similar to instrument building. Woodworkers don't want their projects to become warped or twisted after a few months or years because the wood was not done moving or drying out. If your are is full of furniture makes then honestly the best/cheapest place to start would be going to those businesses and see what they do with their off-cuts. You could very easily get some amazing pieces from their crap that you could make into a guitar or atleast have practice pieces so you can learn how the wood works and how your tools fair with them. Just my 2 cents though.
     
  4. CairnsMitre

    CairnsMitre TDPRI Member

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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I have found this to be helpful

    http://www.wood-database.com/wood-finder/?fwp_paged=4

    My humble opinion is that the specie of wood isn't all that important for a solid body electric guitar. I use various mahoganies for most of mine, and mahogany is a pretty standard furniture wood. The necks are the most critical part and a good stable wood like mahogany or similar would be my choice there too.
     
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  6. CairnsMitre

    CairnsMitre TDPRI Member

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    I visited individual pages on that site, but never used the search system.
    However, the search system seems CLUNKY AS HELL!

    And yea, neck stability was what I was concerned about. Was planning to go for a rosewood neck, back and fingerboard, with either a rosewood, or a similarly priced (but prettier!) lumber for the top.
     
  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    General rule of building guitars: the first half dozen should be from cheap scrap wood to make sure you have your techniques and tools figured out. Then do your fancy wood guitar. Usually people learn the junk wood guitar plays surprisingly well and they don't need to spend on the exotics. Saves demand on those exotic forests too.

    Looks like you are planning an acoustic build. The braces are critical. Top just needs to be uniformly thin enough. Back and sides don't need fancy wood because your body is wrapped around them. Research the top braces and proceed cautiously there.

    Good luck!
    And post pictures as you do the build.

    .
     
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I guess I have found it useful. Mahogany (usually Honduran) is sort of the go-to wood for necks for everything except Fender style guitars - I use it for them too. It is very stable, very workable and looks good. Rosewoods (EIR, Mad, and of course the wonderful Brazilian) are a little more problematic in the US altho a recent CITES change will make them less of a problem for finished instruments. I use a lot of rosewood for both guitar bodies (I build mostly acoustics) and for almost all of my fretboards. I did use one rosewood neck and thought it was fine but I really prefer good old Swietenia macrophylla.

    If the previous post is correct that you are building an acoustic then a lot of things change. You want the highest stiffness you can get which usually means one of the spruce family, possibly cedar or redwood. Mahogany is an acceptable top wood, as is koa, but I would not consider rosewood for a top. For backs and sides of an acoustic you need to consider bendibility as well as appearance - but there are lots of good candidates for an acoustic.

    I'll add that if you are thinking of an acoustic then dryness becomes very important - after my wood has been dried I try to keep it at 45% RH for a significant length of time before I build and I try to keep my shop at close to that RH.
     
  9. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've build 4 guitars out of Malaysian Rubberwood dinette chair seat pans for the bodies. They all worked good and have a bright tone to them and wouldn't have any issues using that wood again.

    Oily woods used for furniture have been dried out a good bit already and probably won't need much more drying if any. IMO

    Just be careful of what wood you choose for the neck, don't want anything too soft.
     
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  10. Hobs

    Hobs Tele-Meister

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    I think a lot of your local wood will make some fine guitars! You should certainly have some good neck woods, with the Dalbergia and Diospyros.

    I would to see some pictures of your guitar!
     
  11. CairnsMitre

    CairnsMitre TDPRI Member

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    thank you for all the information, guys!

    I am not interested in building acoustics - not only do I not play them, but I also think that building acoustics would be FAR too complicated for someone like me.

    will be posting pictures in this thread as I progress.
     
  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    One last piece of information - I happened to be rereading an interview with Ken Warmoth and he was describing the way they condition woods for necks and bodies. They have their own kilns and they take the wood down to 6.5 percent moisture content and hold it there (in the kiln) for a week. They then sticker it in their warehouse for six months, he says a year is better for tropical exotics, and let it stabilize.

    I store my wood in a root cellar in my basement that stays at about 45% RH - I don't know what the moisture content of the wood is.
     
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