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What Are Your LEAST Favorite Woods To Work With?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Stewmc5222, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. I've heard really horrific things about snakewood and some people say that wenge is really splintery, so I was wondering... of all the woods you've come across what are the least pleasant to work?

    from the low and curious end,

  2. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Hi Stew,

    Personnaly, I don't like to work with hard ash (sanding and finishing), purpleheart (I find glueing is sometimes difficult)

    I have no problem with wenge but it has to be premium quality just as ebony. Used with medium or low quality, those woods can be very difficult to work with because they splinter/break easily.

    I love padauk but its dust is pretty nasty, so is spalted maple dust.

    I'm now in love with Limba, really cool to work, very light and resonant :D

    Peace, JP
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Poplar is very stringy and stinky.

    Buckeye burl is stinky, and splits and warps like a bear.

    Spalted maple is very nasty on the lungs, also often punky. I may stop offering spalted maple.

    Wenge and purpleheart always splinter for me. I get the good stuff and it still causes me grief.

    Cocobolo is great stuff, but the dust is overpowering. It also clogs abrasives instantly.

    The only woods I really dread working with are buckeye and spalted maple, though.
  4. very cool, guys. thank you. I am just in awe of luthiery (luthierie?) and those who do it well. it really is a wicked art! I wish I had studied when I was younger and I still think about taking a class, but there are cats making stringed instruments whose work is so impressive that I'd feel like I was insulting them through my efforts. still, I'd love to apprentice with a luthier someday...

    I appreciate the input very much. and I love the word 'punky' to describe a troublesome wood species!

    anyone else?

    from the low end,

  5. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm with Matt and JP on the spalted maple. I've made two basses recently from the same block of spalted maple and it was a nightmare the entire time. On the positive side though:

    Canarywood smells great - like a fruit salad.

    Myrtle smells like bay leaves (because it is) or bacon if you scorch it.
  6. I don't know that I've ever seen canary. is it a light wood? what are its properties sonically and what would you use it for? is it light?

    sorry. didn't mean to get all 'bass player' on you...


    from the depths of low,

  7. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    There won't be any health related up-charges on my bass, right? ;) :) I always wondered what it was like working with spalted maple considering the spalt is a result of fungi running around.
  8. mikgag

    mikgag Guest

    Mar 25, 2002
    The smell of Bocote and Ziricote is awful..........:spit:
  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    No health-related upcharges. You always wear a dust mask when spalted woods are around.

    I guess I don't mind bocote and ziricote too much. Bloodwood is perfumey to the point of being sickening. Muninga (kiiat) is a wretched odor, too.
  10. since you mentioned it, I haven't seen bloodwood in person. compared to redheart, how does it look?

    curiously low,

  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    What's redheart?
  12. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Chakte Kok. It looks neat but apparantly fades easily. I wish I had known that before I bought this large figured board that I'm now afraid to use...it was an impulse buy.
  13. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Nothing wrong with impulse buys. Modulus used to use chakte kok.

    Bloodwood is harder. It has the texture and luster of purpleheart, but [obviously] it's blood red.
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Anyone care to address "dragonwood"??? Bill Conklin told me that something called "dragonwood" is the new darling of their bass tonewoods.

    I looked in my "World of Woods" software and all I can find about it is some junk that looks like grapevines or bonsai tree trunks. I doubt that is what Bill is referring to since, it seems, Conklin is using actual boards of this "dragonwood."

    I'd ask at the MIMF, but everyone there seems to be more interested in how they can make an instrument made from loading-pallet-dumpster-trash. High-end woods seem to be alien there.

    If anyone knows anything about that wood, I'd appreciate any info.
  15. hey all,

    I got to play a couple of the Conklins (including Dickens' new 9!) with the dragonwood bodies. Jauqo II-X calls the wood "pologna", but I know nothing about the speecies. I will say that its tone is bright and focused AND it's about half the weight of swamp ash. it was pretty amazing!

    from the low end,

  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Now we're gettin' somewhere!!!! Thanks very, very, much for those comments, Stew.

    When Bill Conklin says a tonewoods is "the nutz", I sit up and listen. I just wonder if he happened to find a stand of trees through an exotic wood dealer and bought the whole plantation?!?!? I emailed John Turner and "dragonwood" was new news to him.

    It's actually happened before with other luthiers. I had a deal cooking on some quilted cocobolo....Alembic came in 2 hours before I could close a deal on a whole log and bought the entire lot of lumber!
  17. ouch! man, sorry about the loss of that qiulted cocobolo! it sounds like it would have ben gorgeous...


    from the commiserating low end,

  18. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Dragonwood sounds like a made-up, fancy new name to me. People selling goncalo alves on EBay are calling it "tigerwood". It probably sells a lot better.

    One of my local lumber sources had a pallet of what they were calling "shimmerwood". They told me they made it up because they didn't know what it really was. My guess is that it was some kind of lumber most people use for decking, but this stuff was intensely figured. I have a prototype under way with a top of this wood.
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Matt - Would that happen to be Cook Woods??? Those guys are in my wood dictionary as definitions of "sham" and "jive". The colored lighting they use, the oiled-up boards, are just nauseating to me.
  20. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    I've gotten some nice pieces from Cook Woods. That SC6 on my site has a top from them. I definitely think they are a little silly with their names though. And their descriptions are very overrated.

    As to the thread topic:

    Cocobolo makes me crazy. It's expensive to use just because of how much sandpaper you have to go through with it.

    Camphor Burl is VERY strong smelling. I resawed a board the other day and it smelled for three days. And I have pretty good dust collection too. Even after emptying the dust collector out it smelled. Not a bad smell mind you, but a bit overwhelming.

    Spalted maple is a major pain in the ass. It's almost impossible to sand evenly and if you doublstick tape your template it tears it up when you pull the template. I did find a product at Lowes that is called wood stabilizer from Bondo(the company). It actually worked pretty good to harden the spalted maple up a little. I wouldn't use it with an oil finish though.

    Horse Chestnut is also difficult just because it is so soft. If you breathe on it wrong it gets scratched.

    Zebrawood stinks!

    Indian Rosewood makes my allergies go nuts, even with a dust mask.

    Padauk is extremely messy.

    I guess that's all I can think of right now...

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