Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Bois d' arc?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by count_funkula, Dec 21, 2004.


  1. Anyone ever thought of using bois d' arc (I pronounce it Bodark) in an instrument? We also call them "Horse Apple Trees" because of these nasty green fruit things that grow on them. There's tons of it growing in east texas. The wood is hard as a rock and has really cool looking yellow streaks running through it. Seems like it would make a really nice body.

    I don't know anything about the properties of the wood. I just know I've tried cutting one down with an axe and it feels like hitting concrete with an aluminium baseball bat.
     
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    It's also known as Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera. I think some luthiers have used it before.

    From http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/maclura.html :
    While that tech sheet is lacking dry strength numbers, it does note that it is very strong - perhaps strong enough for neck use.

    Note also there is a mention of dermatitus due to sap contact.
     
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
  5. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I think it's, as PJ called it (Osage orange), a popular wood for making archery bows. Hence the name bois d' arc. I've been looking for some.
     
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Dang. you've got me curious on this... I've just found a site that says "It is known for its ... stability in changing atmospheric conditions." Go figure.
     
  7. Very interesting. Thanks for all the info.

    That first link said it is considered to be the most durable wood in North America.

    I have seen some beautiful pieces just from cutting down the trees. Seemed only logical that some one would build something with it.

    As far as stability goes, a good bow has to be able to take years of abuse. Constant bending and releasing.

    Those trees are dispised around here. Those big "horse apples" fall off every year and rot under the Texas sun. They stink and attract a lot of flies. The're very hard to kill to. You can cut them down and burn the stump and next year the thing will start growing back. Covered in thorns too.

    I wonder if Gallery Hardwoods has any?
     
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Are the fruits of those like a green baseball, with a wormy, brain-like skin texture?
     
  9. Yea, but I've seen them get twice as large as a softball. They do look kind of like a brain. They ooze a sticky white substance too.

    As kids we found all sorts of uses for them. You could roll them under passing cars, hit them with baseball bats, shoot them with shotguns, throw them in people's swimming pools, stick fireworks in them, build catapults and use them for ammo, throw them at cows, etc......... I could go on.......
     
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The stuff is hard to find clear and in sizes suitable for guitarmaking. At least up north it is. But it seems a little knotty/cracky.
     
  11. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I believe there is an ergo electric upright out there somewhere made completely of osage, fretboard and all.
    The guy at my local sawmill says he sold a piece to a guy to use as a guitar neck, but never heard how it turned out.

    I have a piece lying around that i'm thinking about making a bridge and nut out of. It is very heavy and very hard. I hear it can be hard to work with because of it's fibrous texture, but i can't validate that. In my own experience it's hard to get it dried with out it developing cracks.

    You can also throw the "oranges" under your house and let them decay, they naturally repel insects and vermin.
     
  12. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I grew up in Northern Arkansas and we have Bodark wood....everywhere! As soon as you cut one, it is a sappy yellow wood, but you need to let it dry out and harden. I would even say, put it outside in the elements to dry. It turns dark brown and I am sure it is the most difficult wood to shape. I would compare it to Teak wood in hardness. I am sure it would probably be better as neck "stiffeners" and will never ever rot. maybe someone could cut one fresh and shape it, then let it dry? maybe this is the secret to a good Bois D' Arc neck. (Note to FBB Custom: There are sizes suitable in north arkansas for guitar making, just never been an interest in this wood. If there wereor is, I have the contacts, and the sawmills to make a little money!) I have seen some trees get to 3 feet wide, but it is a big tree.
    Rob
     
  13. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    Just got some osage orange last night. Heavy stuff. What it lacks in grain figuring it makes up for in the rich yellowey, orange color. I'm looking foward to working with it.
     
  14. Cool! Let us know how it turns out. What are you going to do with it?
     
  15. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Hey, why not post some pics of the raw wood, as I have never really seen it. I wonder what kiln drying would do to it...
     
  16. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I'm using it for a top. I've got everything glued up. I'll probably cut the body out tomorrow. I'll post a pic if everything turns out good. That orange color is wild!
     
  17. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I always thought if it was still a real yellow color it is still green and not dried out. Most of the bowdark turns a dark brown when you dry it out. I don't know maybe i'm wrong.
     
  18. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    The piece I bought is supposed to be kiln dried. It didn't feel like green wood when I was working with it. It may very well turn dark. There was a thread here a while back that mentioned a wood that turned dark on the surface and if you wanted to see the color again all you had to do was lightly sand it. I can't remember what kind of wood it was. That won't be a possibility with the bass I'm building. Everything will be buried under a bunch of coats of clear.
     
  19. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Yeah it will darken. You can still get that brighter color by sanding it even after it's dry, but it will just fade again.
     
  20. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Hey Bud, what ever happened with this? The two basses I've seen from you had different tops.

    ??