neck material...Iron Wood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Randyt, Mar 27, 2014.


  1. Randyt

    Randyt

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Barrie, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Adult Pampers
    Hey guys...just a quick question, I have been in the Arboriculture field for a long time, and I always wondered why more builders don't use Iron wood...this variety is extremely dense and even chainsaws have difficult times felling these trees

    any ideas?
  2. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    There are several species of ironwood. Some ebonies, for example, are ironwoods.

    Some of them are so oily that they can't be glued. Lignum vitae might be strong enough to serve as underwater bearings in the Panama Canal lock gates, but trying to use it in luthiery is like trying to glue a stick of butter to a board. I suppose if you had a piece big enough, you could make a one-piece body out of it.

    But that brings us to another problem: All that density equals a lot of weight. Necks need to be strong and straight and stiff, but they also need to be light in weight, relative to the body, in order for the bass to be comfortable to wear and play.

    Also, my (limited) understanding of is that it is dimensionally unstable. Not good.
  3. tjclem

    tjclem

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    ^ sounds like wonderful stuff. :D :bag:
  4. Randyt

    Randyt

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Barrie, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Adult Pampers
    I have used the iron wood for many years in regards to axe handles, chisel handles , shovel handles etc...did not find it oily at all...I will agree...extremely heavy yet unbelievably stable...I have left my axes out over the winter and through the 4 seasons with no warping.
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Other than the weight issue, the fact that chainsaws can't get through it is probably a reason luthiers don't want to deal with it. Think about it.
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I had a lignum vitae pen blank that I used to make a nut. The stuff was so hard that it broke a few teeth off of my razor saw. It was also very oily, but that make it great for a nut, as it is self lubricating.
  8. Randyt

    Randyt

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Barrie, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Adult Pampers
    whoa...so it does have a use:bag:
  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2002
    Location:
    Maryland
    Disclosures:
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironwood

    Pretty much anywhere a wood grows that is harder than the others, there's a species the locals call "iron wood". That list is not complete, but scan it and you will see some that you might find on an instrument. Olea (olive), Tabebuia (ipe), lignum vitae as others have noted, makes a nice nut.

    Not sure what you have up in Canadia. Hornbeam maybe? Hophornbeam? Does it look good?
  10. KramerDon

    KramerDon

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Location:
    Southwestern Michigan
    I'm in Michigan possibly with the same species as you in Canada.What I know here as ironwood looks very similar to beech with the same"elephant skin"bark.I've never seen very large trees of it tho.What I've got on my property are small undercanopy trees about the size of redbud and dogwood.Just curious if that's what you are familiar with as ironwood?
  11. Randyt

    Randyt

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Barrie, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Adult Pampers
  12. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    I believe the original Chapman Sticks were made of "ironwood" ...no idea what they actually used, but those early wood Sticks wound up being more stable tuning-wise than the subsequent polycarbonate models!
  13. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2002
    Location:
    Maryland
    Disclosures:
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
  14. KramerDon

    KramerDon

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Location:
    Southwestern Michigan
    Thanks for the link,Here what I've been told is ironwood has a smooth bark,the leaves look similar but I've also never seen one more than 3"-4"inches in diameter.I've also never noticed fruit/seeds like those,must be something else.Very interesting!!!
  15. tjclem

    tjclem

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I use lignum vitae as guides for my bandsaw blades
  16. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "PAO FERRO" actually translate to "iron wood" in Portuguese?

    Pao ferro is used in a LOT of basses. Fender and Musicman frequently use it.
  17. neckdive

    neckdive

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Last year, I made 3 Jazz necks out of Ipe. The first one was an Ipe neck and Ipe fingerboard glued together. The second one was a one piece Ipe made from a 5/4 board. It turned out ok but I made the neck too skinny at the nut; 1 3/8 I think.

    The one pictured here is my main fretless player with an Ipe neck and jet black Gaboon ebony fingerboard. I had saved the Ipe from a decking project about 8 years ago and I bought the ebony lumber at a local lumber yard. After planing, the two species glued perfectly with no leeching. I sanded it down to 1500 grit and finished it with boiled linseed oil on both. The finish on the Ipe is glassy smooth and the tone with TI flats is wonderful.

    I plan to make a few more this summer.

    ImageUploadedByTalkBass1397008244.847859.jpg

    ImageUploadedByTalkBass1397008298.016308.jpg
  18. ddhm

    ddhm

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Location:
    Memphis Tn USA
    It's true... The 1st Sticks were all Ironwood. The polycarbs were TERRIBLE with tuning stability. Imagine heating polycarb under stage lights.

    The 1st sticks didn't even have a truss rod I think.
  19. Randyt

    Randyt

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    Barrie, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Adult Pampers
    Theres gotta be someone out there that will take the plunge (challenge) and build an Iron wood (Hop-Hornbeam) neck...come on!!,...you know you want to!!!..do it in the name of science.


    LOL
  20. PazzoBasso

    PazzoBasso

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Location:
    Great White North
    Wal necks were traditionally maple, mukalungu and hornbeam laminates, but the supply of English Hornbeam ran dry around the year 2000...

    Not sure what happened to the mukalungu, but current Wal necks are Canadian Rock Maple & Brazilian Mahogany.

    The English Hornbeam looks a lot like maple & the necks are super stable (the laminations might also be a key factor in stability)
  21. neckdive

    neckdive

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    I did which is why I posted the 2 photos above of the neck made of Ipe and Ebony. The combination is wonderful and not as heavy as you might think in jazz bass form.

    Ipe is one of the Ironwoods with a janka hardness value of 3342. Hophornbeam has a janka value of only 1860
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironwood

    Janka Hardness scale
    http://ejmas.com/tin/2009tin/tinart_goldstein_0904.html

Share This Page